One cant help but get caught up in the frenzied nationalist feelings of the so-far notoriously cold Brits. Its everywhere you go… the tube stations bursting with chanting, flag bearing spectators, happy and proud to be holding their flags, down to the strawberry and cream stalls with ‘2012’ written with whipped cream on your brimming cup of luscious strawberries, to the big screens set up at the most accessible and tourist friendly locations like Potter’s Field near Tower Bridge and Hyde Park, to the radio stations giving away ‘Athlete’s Kit’ to make you feel like your favourite sportsperson, and fascinatingly, the ever-present Olympic volunteers, brilliantly named the ‘Game Makers’ wearing bright uniforms and even brighter smiles as they patiently and happily give out directions to the nearest venue, jokingly tell you how tired you look from all the athletic action, and answer every question of yours, however inane they may be!
It is truly a magical transformation from the my last visit here… Gone are the marching armies of serious looking people in the streets, the tube, the cafes, their sharp wit sheathed in black and grey trenchcoats, only glimpsed in overheard conversations and tour guide ramblings. They are no longer minding their own business, while somewhat sternly asking you to ‘mind the gap’! They are a smiling, shouting, happy lot in truly colourful clothes, ribbing with strangers, lazing on blankets with beer and pie in hand as they watch and cheer the biggest and smallest Olympic events on the giant screens with pride and joy.
The food stalls are the ones happiest with this transformation, obviously!
Steak and ale pies, barbecue ribs, fudge, fish and chips, black pudding, strawberries and cream and the oh-so-amazing hot scones with clotted cream and jam are flying off the counters and shelves faster than Serena’s serves and Usain’s bolts! It is just great to see a nation so relaxed, comfortable being just themselves, and smiling at the world. This is what deserves to bring an extra gold medal to their kitty!