Posted by: ralphmexico | August 6, 2012


Listeners, you may have heard a rumour that the Olympic Games are taking place in London right now.  For want of something better to do, I flew from Farranfore to Stansted on the Monday before the Opening Ceremony (which was taking place on the Friday) – plenty of time to see how our noisy neighbours were getting their ducks in line…

Stansted was my first encounter with the wine and orange-clad volunteers who were everywhere in the city helping visitors around the great metropolis.  Their politeness was unnerving.  The Irish default setting – “Beware of friendly Brits” – was thrown awry.  The volunteers were genuinely courteous and helpful.  And they were everywhere.  Which was… nice?

The Blimp was the next sign that something mega was taking place.  From miles away, on the bus in from Stansted, you could see The Blimp hovering over East London.  The capital hadn’t seen such a brightly-coloured, jumbo-sized, expanse of puffed-up air since Neil Ruddock donned one of those garish Crystal Palace away shirts in the 2000/01 season.

Upon arrival in Stratford you had to be impressed with how the the Olympic Park looked.  When I was there a year ago some stuff was in place, but it still looked like a huge building site.  Now however, the vast area containing the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics centre, the athletes village, the velodrome etc. looked resplendent.  Those Irish and Polish builders sure are good at meeting deadlines.

Stratford was heaving in the days leading up to the start of the games.  The Westfield Shopping Complex, beside the Olympic Park, is ginormous.  They should run the marathon around its’ miles of aisles instead of on mundane roads.  Westfield occupies more land mass than eighteen of the countries competing at the Olympics.  It has a higher GDP than 194 of the countries.  It is notoriously B.I.G.

The shopping wonderland was rammed on my one visit.  Competitors and officials, sporting tracksuits and laminates, abounded.  A shop called “Victoria’s Secret” was operating a “one in, one out” policy at the door, and the queue stretched for half a mile down the corridor outside.  Whatever secret Victoria had, a helluva’ lot of people seemed curious to find it out.

I had a notion to join the female-heavy line, but opted instead to go to Primark to buy myself a pair of slippers.  Now this was more my kinda’ hang-out.  There were gluttonous hordes streaming towards the tills weighed down with jeans, t-shirts and all manner of booty.  “Primark, Get Set, Go” seemed to be the order of the day.  And before you ask – no, I didn’t get the slippers I craved.  Ho-Hum.

Now, if you drew a Venn diagram of Boris Johnson and me, the intersection would be miniscule, but I gotta’ applaud the right wing buffoon for the way the transport in the city was nowhere near as chaotic as expected.  Opting to walk on a few occasions though was rewarding enough too.  A trio of Malaysian cyclists whizzed past me on the Lea Bridge Road; the owner of the eel and pie shop in Leytonstone was being interviewed by a Japanese tv crew when I ambled by; some South African mountain bikers asked me for directions on the Greenway near the Oympic Park.  Everyone was feeling “Very Olympic”.

Speaking of “feeling Olympic” – I walked by the little cafe across the road from Stratford police station which featured on “Have I Got News For You” a few weeks ago.  The cafe had traded for years under the name “Olympic Cafe”.  Alas, as the Olympics is now a shameless, bullying, greedy, corporate, big business, whore of capitalism its owners were warned they had to change the name or else some angry Lithuanian shot-putters would call around to do a spot of er, re-decorating.

The cafe owners changed the name.  The sign above the door, as shown on “H.I.G.N.F.Y”, now reads “LYMPIC CAFE” with a dash of paint doing a so-so job covering the “O”.  Alright, seeing this sign wasn’t exactly sharing a box of chicken nuggets with Maria Sharapova or relaxing in a sauna with Usain Bolt, but it gave me a little thrill anyway.  So it goes.

Suitably Olympified, it was time for the opening ceremony.  And in fairness that was OK too; not quite “Anarchy In The UK” nor “Pretty Vacant” either.  It was entertaining, unexpected, bewildering and joyous, even if the “Bond” and “Bean” segments weren’t deserving of such gushing praise.  It was so mad-cap and mad-“Tap” in parts, I expected a miniature, replica Stonehenge to make an appearance.  At the end of the day, you gotta’ say “Jolly Good Show, Chaps”.  It was time to let the games begin.

Being Boyled!!
Ralph Mexico

ps.  Quite a cull of literary heavy-weights in the past week or so.  Vidal, Binchy and Houlihan all suffered the cruellest editorial cut.  No prizes for guessing who will be most sorely missed- the final whistle has blown on The Greatest Ever Sportswriter.  R.I.P.



  1. “…sharing a box of chicken nuggets with Maria Sharapova or relaxing in a sauna with Usain Bolt…”

    Surely you’d rather do each with the other!!! 😀

    • How about having chicken nuggets in a sauna with Maria and Usain?? Nah, only joking… I don’t like chicken nuggets…

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