And there it is. The London 2012 Olympics, finished.
So I'm finally allowed to tell you what I was doing there! Missing the boat completely on applying to be a volunteer, I applied for a job at the Olympics. So it was that I ended up at 7am on 27th July working at Greenwich Park (Equestrian Arena) in a bright orange uniform, flogging programmes to the horse fans. An experience like no other for me, I learnt that being up and out of the house at 5.30 (especially at the weekend) is like learning about a beautiful secret that no one else knows. The long hours and early starts were punishing, and the weather was well and truly British, with torrential rain and electric storms in the morning and scorching sun in the afternoon. I have a tan line where my lanyard was round my neck, then a small gap of tan before the collar of my T shirt intervened. Proud.
The people that I ended up talking to made it all worthwhile as well. There was the volunteer who showed me how to walk the last part of my commute to work, saving me a daily £2.70. There was the man from Pakistan who I had an hour-long conversation with about Ramadan and marriage and how girls in shorts are like sweets without wrappers. He also gave me a meal voucher, and made me promise not to have sex before marriage. There was the man who gave me a lift out of the park on a mobility buggy, and consequently yelled "Hey, Winchester!" at me every time we met because that was the only detail about me he could remember. There were the numerous spectators who explained to me what on earth was going on every day and managed to get me extremely interested in all of the horsie events. Finally, there was my beautiful, wonderful, programme-selling team. They helped motivate me to make the hour-an-a-half journey every morning, protected me from the scarier customers (chuckle) and created a fantastic send-off in Greenwich Wetherspoons when it was all over.
Seeing us win 3 Golds in the horse riding, and at least another Silver and Bronze, was indescribable. I can't believe I didn't cry any of the times I got to sing the National Anthem with a crowd of thousands, and seeing Kate and Wills wasn't half bad either. I'm so glad I was part of this fantastic event. I'm so proud of Britain, team GB, and every Olympic athlete. And of course, I can't wait to show off to any children/grandchildren that not only were the Olympics hosted here when I was in my prime, I was ACTUALLY THERE.
The Closing Ceremony didn't fail to impress either. As ridiculous as the Opening at the beginning there, and then a celebration of everything that has been achieved in these two weeks. 303 boxes to celebrate 303 Olympic events. Sounds like something we'd come up with. The flashbacks to the moment when a normal person becomes an Olympic Champion were wonderful, and I love the fact that we've brought the whole nation together in an acknowledgement of glorious achievement. To my mind in a ceremony of this kind there simply cannot be too much music, and I was not disappointed. It certainly brought out the secret dancer in old Boris. It's quite difficult to sum up the last section of the closing ceremony, but I think it can be agreed that it was wonderful, and crazy, and what I wish all parties were like, and I know I won't be the only one waking up with Always Look on the Bright Side of Life/Our House/Here Comes the Sun stuck in my head tomorrow morning.
GB, for everything, I salute you.