In case you haven’t noticed, The Olympics are coming to London. Like many Londoners, it’s something I’ve been ignoring.
I don’t live in east London, I am not athletic, and I’ve never met Sue Barker. But the ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach has become increasingly un-blissful.
I anticipate waking on July 27, watching the opening ceremony on TV, and then realising I won’t be able to move from my sofa for the next three weeks. Not because my eyes will be glued to the box, but because I won’t be able to get anywhere.
There are lots of schemes and information services set up to help Londoners get around the city this summer. My favourite, the Get Ahead of The Games Twitter feed (@GAOTG), is a university degree in the bleedin’ obvious. “Large crowds expected to attend road events during the Games” and “The London Underground, Overground and DLR will be affected during the Games” are typical twit tweets.
Where’s the useful info we actually need, like “Tips on avoiding Italian backpacks in Leicester Square”? I do, however, applaud them for posting the cycling and walking plans of the entire cast of Shrek the Musical. Super helpful.
I love travelling on London’s buses, mainly because it’s easy to earwig on other people’s conversations. Yet my eavesdropping has ground to a halt – because my local bus stop has been closed in aid of the Olympics.
Or, more specifically, because my neighbourhood has been turned into an Olympic media transport hub. So they’ve shut the bus stops. Makes sense, right?
On the other hand, if I wanted to travel to the Olympic Park via ground-to-air missile, my journey would be hassle free – or would have been if it weren’t for those pesky people who live in the Newham tower block where the missiles are stationed. How dare they question the MOD on the decision to house 20 tons of explosives on their roof? Honestly.
Perhaps the new Emirates Air Line cable car will get me where I want to go? Not unless I am interested in travelling from one remote area of London to another. The Emirates cable car is kind of like Emirates the country: sounds glamorous, but once you’re there it’s just desert.
Barclays Cycle Hire was once the city’s hippest mode of transport. I refuse to call them Boris Bikes because it was former Mayor Ken Livingstone’s idea. Like most good things in London, Boris has claimed it as his own invention.
But bicycle helmets off to him for sorting the Barclays sponsorship. Not only is London now awash with naff Olympic sponsors’ logos; we’re also lumbered with a fleet of two wheelers that publicise a high street bank so toxic the bikes should be subjected to the congestion charge. Except if you live in west London.
In fact, I’ll be getting out of the city for the Olympics. I’m taking my show, Unhappy Birthday, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
In preparation for the journey, I went to Mile End Road to get roof bars fitted on my battered Ford Ka. Watching two blokes fit a roof rack on a hatchback in the pouring rain is perhaps the finest entertainment east London will see this summer. Book now to avoid disappointment; nearest tube Stepney Green.