Olympic Fever?

The Thames at sundown

A fortnight ago, our local paper, La Dépêche du Midi had ‘Londres, capitale du monde!’ as its banner headline.  The story was, of course, the Olympics.  We’re unaccustomed to this particular paper taking much notice of anything that occurs outside south-west France, but ‘les  JO’ (Jeux Olympiques) have been big news.

Not as much as in England though. When we arrived in the UK, we were unprepared for Olympic Fever.  Red white and blue banners and flags hang from houses.  Shops have Olympic-themed window displays, and if you want to buy mugs, some paper napkins, or fancy a new cushion, you’d better want them plastered with the Union Flag.

Across the Thames: a view of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Still, we enjoyed staying with Tom and Sarah in Olympic-happy London, and spent an evening round the South Bank area.  Eat near Borough Market and you’re sure of a tasty meal cooked with decent ingredients: the convivial and cheery atmosphere comes free.  Wander along from there to the Festival Hall, and you’ll be in the company of Olympic visitors from just about every country you can think of, as well as locals, just out to enjoy being alongside the Thames and all that this particular stretch of river offers.  Tate Modern and the Globe weren’t open for business at that time of the evening, but there’s still plenty to see.  The National Theatre has a slightly zany pop-up bar, the Propstore, furnished with props from popular productions.  We were aMAZEd by the book maze we found in the South Bank Centre, constructed from some 250,000 books, most of which we found we wanted to read, if we hadn’t already.

The aMAZEing maze of books

And as part of the Festival of Britain retrospective, there was a retro-funfair with fearsomely-clanking roller-coaster as well as all the rides of a traditional 50’s fair.

As night fell, we simply mooched along the Thames-side nightscape.  We felt lucky to be there and  lucky to have shared, if not as excited sports spectators, London’s Olympic August.

Nightfall over the London Eye

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

5 thoughts on “Olympic Fever?”

  1. Samuel Johnson

    ” Why Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.

    I do believe that in his sojourns he had a fondness for Scotland which he shared with Walter Scott.

    ; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

    One could sell one’s soul to the devil for a small piece of London.

    It has also been noted he had various tics and mannerisms that in our modern times he would have probably been diagnosed as having Tourette’s Syndrome!!!!!

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  2. Sounds like you had a great time – and thanks for bringing the sunshine with you! Were you allowed to touch the Amaze books? I’m always in trouble for touching things I shouldn’t, my fingers just seem to reach out…….

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    1. Oh yes, we could touch. That’s why we spent so long there, browsing away. It was hard not to walk off with a few favourites… All the books were class acts. No Mills & Boone there!

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  3. Reblogged this on From Pyrenees to Pennines and commented:

    Two posts in quick successsion. Sorry. But this one is topical now, although I first posted it exactly four years ago. And it made me sad. And cross.

    Four years ago, England was in the grip of Olympic Fever, and we were in London, sharing all the optimism and the feel-good factor with Londoners from every possible cultural background. Today seems so different. The country seems suffused in post-Brexit economic gloom, post-Brexit immigrant antipathy, often towards citizens who’ve lived here thirty years. Only the headlines from the Daily Express and the Daily Mail promote the fiction that all is well, and all will continue to be well. It’s all very depressing.

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