I’ve had a crush on two-times Olympic gold medalist decathlete Daley Thompson since I first saw him wow the world at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 (I’ve always had a soft spot for men with moustaches). So, I couldn’t believe my luck when earlier this week I was given a ticket to the Haringey after-Olympic-torch-relay celebrations at Alexandra Palace where Mr Thompson would end the evening lighting the Haringey Olympic cauldron.
It is wonderful that after six weeks of constant rain, the sun has finally appeared just in time for the Opening Ceremony this Friday (proof that the Olympic flame does have Apollonian powers). Today had been a sweltering 31 degrees which was glorious, that was until rehearsals for the evening’s Olympic event ran late and delayed the opening of the gates by a good twenty minutes. This resulted in those with Celtic skin (like myself) queuing up to get in being exposed to the sun much longer than Factor 30 could guarantee protection for.
When I finally got into the grounds, I needed to go and ‘powder my nose’ so to speak, and an official kindly directed me to where the toilets were. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised with the ‘experience’ as the London 2012 Games are supposed to be the Greenest ever, right down to the smallest … but most vital detail:
As I walked into the tent I was rather bemused to be handed a wooden spoon and told rather enthusiastically by the gentleman who presented it to me that I was number twenty. I couldn’t resist and replied that I only wanted to do a ‘number one’ before asking him what on earth was I supposed to do with the spoon. Apparently, I was to use it to lock the door to my appointed cubicle (number twenty).
Afterwards, I took my place by the front of the stage for the celebrations which started off with the very talented Haringey Young Musicians Steel Band:
This was followed by the first set of dancers and performers led by two young fellows called ‘Twist’ and ‘Pulse’. The two young girls standing beside me took a shine to these young lads and professed their approval by screaming incredibly loudly and continuously at them through my right ear. But, this was fine as I had already lost most of my ability to hear anything due the extremely loud and unrecognisable music (although my two young friends seemed very familiar with the tunes) booming through the loud speakers which were directly in front of me.
I now know why two sign language experts were employed on stage during the whole event. They were not there to assist the deaf revellers in the crowd but to help out bystanders like myself who were rapidly losing their hearing as the evening carried on. Every organ in my body was unpleasantly vibrating due to the large speakers I had unwittingly stood in front of (and due to the crowd, couldn’t move away from). The music was so loud that the Coca-Cola drum pads handed out to bystanders to make celebratory noise with actually vibrated when held up in front of the speakers.
The “Lloyds TSB Torch Followers” took to the stage next and performed amazing acrobatics, albeit to further loud and unrecognisable techno music.
Then the big act of the night (apart from Daley) made his much anticipated appearance. Everyone cheered, swayed and sang along to his big chart tunes but I’m afraid I had absolutely no idea who he was and didn’t recognise any of his songs. I was however not the only one as I saw someone who was roughly the same age as myself, trying to look him up on their Smartphone. My young friends had no difficulty however knowing who he was and were extremely excited to see him. So I asked them who he was, but because my hearing was now non-existent I didn’t catch the name they gave me.
He ended his set with what seemed to be his biggest hit to date (going by the even louder screams and energetic jumps of glee by my dear young friends). I did catch one line of the song – something about being on a ‘roll’. I’ve since done a search online with this piece of evidence and I think the young man was Loick Essien?
Then the time had come: Daley Thompson had finally arrived with the Olympic torch and at last I recognised someone! It was my turn to show my two young friends how to really cheer after someone you fancied.
Although it was a joy to see him, I was rather disappointed that he didn’t re-enact his famous 1984 celebratory backflip which he was probably prevented from doing by Health & Safety officials (not a wise act to attempt so close to an open flame).
A great evening of Olympic celebration. Next stop: Stratford!