What a difference a couple of weeks makes. A fortnight ago I was grumbling about the rain, cynical about the Olympics, gloomy about the prospect of sharing the transport system with millions of sports fans, and wishing to goodness I’d abandoned London for a nice long holiday somewhere – anywhere! – else.
Maybe it was Danny Boyle’s brilliantly bonkers, undeniably cool Isle of Wonders. Maybe it was seeing Bradley Wiggins follow Tour de France triumph with Olympic gold. Maybe it was (hmm, something in my eye) the look of incredulous joy on the faces of British athletes from hitherto obscure sports as they mounted the Olympic podium, years of hard work and sacrifice finally taking them to the pinnacle of success.
It’s all those and more. It’s walking with pride around our spruced-up city, seeing the lovely Games volunteers in their startling pink and purple, cheerfully mustering track-suit wearing crowds of Olympians and visitors. It’s buying last-minute £5 tickets for the wonderful Richard III at The Globe, and chatting to a German couple who managed to ‘do’ Olympic rowing at Eton, the Natural History Museum and the V&A, all in one day before heading to the theatre. They were generous with praise for London’s cultural wonders.
It’s the prospect of another month of The Proms at the Albert Hall – probably the most diverse classical music festival in the world – and of visiting our lovely, free museums, which are apparently half-empty after all the cultural tourists (except our German friends) were scared away by reports of transport melt-down.
As the lady at Waitrose said this morning, the Olympics gives you a lift. I rang a colleague who lives practically next door to the Olympic Stadium this morning – she said she’d heard the roar that greeted Jessica Ennis’ amazing hurdles race in her flat, even with the windows closed. The excitement is contagious.
So I’m ditching my grumpiness and cynicism, exclaiming with Richard III that ‘Now is the winter of my discontent made glorious summer by this team GB.’ Bless ’em.
Image: my own, of flags flying down Oxford Street.