Monday, 20 August 2012

When the music's over

I haven’t written on this blog for a few weeks as a lot has been happening. There was a graduation (at last!); a holiday to Italy (hoorah!); getting married (best day ever!); and, of course, London 2012. No sooner had we sent my in-laws back to the land of Cristina the Botox Gaucho than we were sat on the couch with a decanter full of wine and Danny Boyle’s imagination in bonkers overflow.

And there we stayed. Well, that was when I wasn’t donned in purple, red and beige for my two weeks as the welcoming face of Britain; as a helpful hand; as someone who was trying to make the Olympics the best games ever. Yes, I was a London 2012 Games Maker. It was an incredible experience.

We had just got married and then I left him. I left him each day for the Athlete’s Village where for eight hours I would greet, chat to, marvel at, help out, wave on, celebrate with and congratulate athletes, coaches, VIPs, fellow workers, press and families. In a team with other Games Makers and security professionals, we had one of the best vantage points of the games. True, we weren’t on the finishing line; or with a camera and microphone; or in the dressing room, but we got snippets of triumph and disappointment, agony and ecstasy, medals and stories as they passed through security. We made it an easy and pain-free experience and always tried to give them something to smile about along the way.

In the few hours I wasn’t working at the games, I was watching it. We lucked out and had tickets for a men’s volleyball session in which Argentina played, and a men’s hockey session in which both Team GB and Argentina had games. Music, lights, cheerleaders, Mexican waves, interviews, playbacks, chants and incredible sport made each session an unforgettable experience of highs and lows. It seemed each venue had its own character, and characters which would make history there too.

Even watching what I could on the television gave me goose bumps. I think one of the most incredible moments personally was watching a rerun of Charlotte Dujardin’s gold medal-winning performance. I’d never seen a horse do that, and to that music… I was overwhelmed. Simply: WOW.

But there were so many WOW moments over those two weeks. The personal WOW of meeting some of our gold medal winners and congratulating them; the collective WOW of Katherine Grainger’s top-of-the-podium moment; the personal WOW of wishing Mo Farah good luck before his 5000m; the collective WOW as Eric Idle finally took the closing ceremony by storm and we could ignore George Michael and the Spice Girls’ efforts.

There had been so much to look forward to. Now there is so much to look back on. The music is over and London has temporarily turned out the lights. For me, it’s back to reality: teaching, running, wedding planning (we’re having two), writing. It’s not a bad reality by any means, but I am missing London’s energy, music and expectation, those strangers’ smiles and tears, my tiredness, our pride.

I await the beat of the Paralympics with baited breath. Let the music start again…