diamond geezer

 Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Like you, perhaps, I've been doing some tidying up and clearing out while I've been stuck at home.

It's given me the chance to reconnect with my London 2012 souvenir gift selection, and to reflect on how much it's undoubtedly worth.

No home should be without a London 2012 tea cosy, featuring the iconic logo and a Union Jack design in blue. It was manufactured in County Down, Northern Ireland, by Ulster Weavers. It's well padded, so at a pinch could double up as a cosy hat. I've upturned mine and keep my smaller Olympic souvenirs inside.

The Union Flag Map Tea Towel (022UNM) is probably my favourite London 2012 souvenir. The design is gorgeous, again courtesy of Ulster Weavers, and it's practical too. I own two, one for regular use and one for keeps. I actually bought a third to give as a gift to our landlady in Reykjavik when we holidayed in Iceland in 2011 - she loved it too.

These gymbags were commonplace in 2012, an ideal lightweight backpack for carrying supplies around the Park between events, or for everyday use out on the street. They were manufactured in China, but under licence to adidas in the Netherlands. The red Paralympic bag is rarer than the blue standard version, and I'm not sure how many were ever used for gymming. Usefully they're only printed on one side, so I've successfully used them several times in public since by facing the logo towards my back.

These London 2012 socks (size 6-11) are quite the dapper choice.
For that lockdown game of patience, London 2012 playing cards can't be beaten.
My glass London 2012 paperweight is an object of rare beauty.
Top right, yes, those are Police Officer Mandeville Assorted Magic Face Towels.
My 1:64 scale die-cast black cab is #23 in the Destination London series.
This shiny black silicone card wallet remains in tip-top pristine condition.

I should point out that most of these were bought at knockdown prices after the Games from the London 2012 shop at Stratford's John Lewis. Their clearance sale went on and on, there being a lot of unsold souvenirs to shift, and if you waited long enough you could always snap up a bargain. Those socks were only £1.50, for example, and they were almost giving the Police Officer Mandeville Assorted Magic Face Towels away. As for the playing cards I found them in WHSmith in Brent Cross last summer, and couldn't resist shelling out 99p as an unexpected last hurrah.

Handheld Inflatable Union Flag Mascot Wenlock and Handheld Inflatable Union Flag Mascot Mandeville were some of the last souvenirs left on the shelves in John Lewis, because somebody in purchasing had vastly overestimated how popular they would be. I bought them for 50p each. Yesterday I finally took Mandeville out of the box to take this photo, but I didn't dare inflate in case I couldn't get him back in the box afterwards.

I didn't buy everything in my collection. These are the flags waved on the Torch Relay for Athens 2004, London leg, and the Torch Relay for Beijing 2008. The London 2012 Candidate City flag is probably even rarer, part of the 'Back The Bid' campaign in 2004 when everyone assumed Paris was going to win instead.

From that same 'Back The Bid' campaign I also have a hexagonal pin badge and a promotional biro, and if they're not worth masses on eBay I don't know what is. For comparison the postcard in the background features the funky typeface devised later for the London 2012 brand, and was posted direct from the 23rd floor at Canary Wharf.

Who can forget the notorious London 2012 logo? The organisers only managed to make it less toxic by plastering a Union Jack across it, as seen here in this dangly keyring and this intimate pin badge. Each comes with a silver holographic sticker on the back of the packet to prove authenticity. These London 2012 fish and chips forks might just be the strangest souvenir in the entire collection (sorry, the packet's empty because my stabby metallic prongs are elsewhere).

As for the three objects at the bottom of my photo, these are properly special despite never actually being for sale. They're cartridges from the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, part of the firework display that lit up the sky on the very first night. I found them the morning after, lying in the grass on one of the sloping lawns in the northern half of the Olympic Park, just before we headed to the basketball. It's just as well security didn't do a patdown for explosives on the way out.

And finally, here are two I picked up afterwards. En route is the One Team Transport insider guide, 272 spiral-bound pages of maps, schedules and travel advice covering every venue from Weymouth to Hampden Park, which I found later in a bargain bin at a transport event. As for the magenta sign - Discreet search area - I found this discarded on the Greenway the day after it finally was reopened to the public. Whoever cleared away the Victoria Gate left it behind, and it now has pride of place in my hallway above the doorway to my bedroom.

I am of course very proud of my London 2012 souvenir collection, most of it acquired at bargain basement prices. If you have any good swaps, please let me know.

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