I’m finding it hard to be inspired about life in London at the moment. The news is increasingly depressing about the economic situation. Right now there are sit in protesters in London’s banking district, camped up outside the London Stock Exchange. The Evening Standard led with the headline ‘Biggest inflation rise for 20 years’ last night. Today, radio 4 was talking about the shortage of affordable homes and older people having to downsize and move out of their properties to ‘free up space’. Not exactly a chipper way to start the day. Should have listened to my daughter’s Black Lace album instead. It seems the Daily Mail headlines are everywhere.
It couldn’t be further from the heady days of 2000. We didn’t know it at the time when John Major was talking about Back to Basics, but the 1990s were bliss by comparison with today. And when I worked at the Sydney Olympics, it was pre 9/11. I had no qualms about stepping inside a massive aeroplane every few weeks when I was travelling.
So I just wonder how the London Olympics are going to be received next year? Hopefully it means lots of cash will be spent – although hard to imagine and not exactly what the Games are supposed to be about – and everyone will soak up the goodwill and high spirits that existed in Sydney. There, people stopped in the street when Grant Hackett won swimming gold. Cars would honk their horns and everything just stopped for sporting victories. When Cathy Freeman was due to race, everyone came together in parks and public spaces to be a part of racing history. A Somali resident proposed to my friend Steph that night, I seem to remember. Everyone was just so happy. Can London achieve the same incredible atmosphere, I wonder?
Of course, I imagine that if you’re not in London or in places where other events are taking place, this could pass you by. But when a Football World or European Cup takes place, there’s always a unique buzz when you’re out and about, wherever you are. It helps when the sun shines, naturally, but everyone remembers where they are when England wins an important match/goes out in a big competition.
I just hope that the London Olympics can ride the storm that’s brewing.