There was something rather odd about the London 2012 Olympics Beach Volleyball venue at Horseguards Parade last Friday:
There was a sort of country village feel about the place. Although seeing and hearing a Royal Guards brass band play before the match was an utter delight, it was certainly not something I was expecting to see at an Olympics event:
Far from being glamorous as one might expect, the whole venue had a controlled yet understated quaintness about it.
Friendly, compliant staff, eager to help, eager to please (but for what true purpose?), golf buggies for taxis, quaint ‘village’ stalls, quaint ‘village’ feel: this wasn’t London, this was the Village from 1960s TV series The Prisoner! Well, just as long as there weren’t any large, roaring weather balloons tearing around the place I guess I could live with being a number for the afternoon …
In the safety of the court, not only was the atmosphere fantastic, but having a seat so high up in the stands I had a view of London that until this stand was built no one had ever had before … and will probably never have again in this lifetime. The views were simply breath-taking:
As I was being distracted by my surroundings, my fellow male spectators were being distracted by something else:
There were two matches played during the time I was there. One played by the men:
… and one by the women:
… and although both matches were rather enjoyable, only the players seemed to be taking the whole thing seriously. The fact that we couldn’t be further from a beach in London if we tried was probably a main factor in this, and it also didn’t help that the players first entered the court to the theme tune of Benny Hill!
As the ladies played desperately against each other to try and qualify to the next round, spectators just simply weren’t paying them any attention (well, not to their game-play anyway). People were singing and dancing in their seats, doing Mexican waves (I got bored after the seventh round, and simply waved my hand dismissively when it came my way after that) and Congas. All this was actively encouraged by the commentators.
Those poor Volleyball girls. This was like the twenty-first century equivalent to Elizabethan actors trying to perform Shakespeare at the Globe theatre whilst the inebriated, rowdy audiences in the stalls did everything but listen intently to the words of the Bard. Even the sand rakers were given more attention than the players as spectators gave them a round of applause between sets.
There was one mystery figure however that did seem to pay the Volleyball ladies the attention they deserved … and not just ogling them in they bikinis either. But, who was he?
Although more like ‘Blackpool Pleasure Beach’ than Rio Carnival, the whole event was absolutely superb and I enjoyed it immensely. Being a born-n-bred Londoner (apologies, gushing prose coming up) the pride I feel for my hometown and for TeamGB at this moment in time (22 Gold medals and counting), to see the city looking so beautiful and at its best, simply overwhelms me and I have fallen in love with dear ol’ London town all over again. Someone pass me a hankie (and maybe a bucket for me dear reader).