And We’re Off

2 Aug

So this is it. The real thing. After weeks of preparation, collecting cars, security courses, briefings, I and London’s taxi swat team have gone live chauffeuring the Olympics for the major sponsors. What looked like a fairly casual bunch on car collection days has metamorphised into a fine looking body of men, experienced taxi drivers/chauffeurs all. It’s quite emotional, we were last together over six years ago before we relucantly and sadly drifted back to our taxis due to the downturn in the global economy and the ground transport industry in general. But that’s behind us and we’re now looking to the future and fully engaged in delivering a first class service to our employers.

My day-time partner Popeye and I had been blown away visiting all the Olympic sites necessary for our client and I was then privileged last Wednesday evening to observe the elegant Stadium from 200 metres and hear clearly one of the dress rehearsals. Through the tall perimeter wall, I still got an idea of in excess of 1,000,000 watts of sound and witnessed the intensity of the numerous lighting changes sufficiently to know that London was about to wow the whole world in a montage of historic re-enactments, city shots, sound effects and pivotal moments in British history, educational, solemn and comical.

A close encounter of the privileged kind

And sure enough with the ceremony a week behind us, there has been almost a universally overwhelming reaction from around the world. Even Mitt the Twit must have been squirming. I watched the Opening Ceremony proceedings at a dinner reception for all support workers in the comfort of the sponsors’ ballroom. And so, I was reassured from American reactions that London was smashing the world outside. Arise Sir Daniel Boyle.

No state-controlled drummers a la Beijing, just the vision of a top film director

And driving around London these last few months, it’s clear that the good people of this island have reclaimed the ubiquitous Union Jack from the fascist Goose Stepping Tendency and about time too. And sorry, flag? It is Jack for me, having been born 400 metres from the River Thames I’m almost a matelot. And what’s all that “flag” snobbery all about, anyway? Get over it, pennant pedants. Actually, the Union Jack is almost back to its Sixties pop art status, long may it continue. Along with the other 203 nations’ flags flying all over London, there’s no mistaking what’s taking place here until September.

In fact, London at the moment looks how I remember it in the Sixties and in fact how it always should—no roadworks, colour everywhere and shiny, happy people smiling at you. Well, almost. How tedious are the gainsayers becoming? We’ve had five years to prepare, clearly LOCOG used every day, it seems. But for the others to whom the world owes a living, they failed to peer over their Daily Hate newspapers or look out of the steamed up windows of their greasy spoon cafes and notice it was upon us. This is probably the largest peacetime event to ever hit London, nobody knew how it would emerge. Some, not all, adapted such as the World’s oldest salmon smokers, Forman’s. Now Fish Island Riviera, Popeye and I passed it last week on our site tour and noticed it 100 metres across the River Lea and remarked upon their enterprise. That’s how London has survived every challenge.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
London, everchanging since the Romans. Let’s get with it.

So to traders waiting for it to come to them, you missed the five-year old slow boat. To my comrades still sitting on the Victoria feeder rank the other night I say get cruising, cross the river, see if our Middle Eastern sisters and brothers are still in Edgware Road Ramadam notwithstanding, work Clapham Junction, anything but please just stop sitting around sulking, you’re making my beautiful London look ugly.


6 Responses to “And We’re Off”

  1. Carlos Oliveira 15 August 2, 2012 at GMT+0000 12:15 pm #

    Nice to read postive sentiments of our Great City..

  2. Jim Rainbird 57 August 2, 2012 at GMT+0000 12:57 pm #

    Nice one Brian. Next time you pass Formans, grab some smoked salmon, I’ll get the beigals in Brick Lane and the 2012 Ninjas will dine!

  3. Janet Mackinnon 54 August 3, 2012 at GMT+0000 9:54 am #

    Well done Brian! I’m very proud of my little brother!!

  4. Roger Dixon 43 August 3, 2012 at GMT+0000 11:43 am #

    youv’e brought a tear to eye

  5. Paul Pashouros 57 August 4, 2012 at GMT+0000 10:57 am #

    Brian, as always very eloquent, absorbing and amusing

  6. sheshe999 54 August 4, 2012 at GMT+0000 2:54 pm #

    Brilliant piece Brie! Well done boy!

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