Tag Archives: Usain Bolt

The Afterglow

17 Aug


So, shortly after the Stadium’s central fat flames die out, having charmed 23.5 million UK viewers and around 750 million viewers abroad, it’s a wrap. The Games are finished and are globally held as the best ever, London breathes a sigh of relief, possibly like when the all-clear used to sound during The Blitz in 1940. This city has delivered, the doubters silenced and we warm down until the Paralympics.

We’ve witnessed the repossession of the Union Jack, not the jingoistic one of the Sink The Belgrano 198os but a new inclusive symbol. This repossession has been reflected by some of our Gold Medallists like Mo Farah who came here as a Somali refugee and, like all arrivals, got claimed as a Londoner in the end. This is as momentous as the French World Cup winning team of 1998, where those champions reflected their own society’s make-up. nobody dared as in 2007 to divide us and gain propaganda for their twisted, hateful beliefs.

War-time air raid shelter and now gateway to the best show on earth. not much is more iconic than the London Underground

So, closing night at our sponsors’ headquarters, our passengers are all safely back and, an hour later, our boss declares our own wrap. I emerge into a warm Mediterranean kind of evening and walk through Holborn as euphoric as on New Year’s Eve, the relatively empty streets seem so clean, car tyres on the road surface sound different, my senses have been heightened from the magic of the moment. I begin to drive home but want to stay in this moment but delay going home to an empty house by dropping down to Waterloo Bridge to afford myself the best view in London and to reflect on what has just concluded.

I park up on Waterloo Bridge itself, My taxi is the only parked vehicle on the bridge and I alight. Leaning on the railings and looking downstream, the bridge’s every bypasser gives me a happy and friendly smile and I decide I’m in no rush to end this moment. The famous buildings, still lit up, shine out with pride as if to utter “back to business” for a short while before The Paralympics a fortnight later. I name check all my favourite buildings as I pan 360 degrees and just live in that personal moment.

Remaining negativity which had lingered now flows out below my feet eventually to the North Sea and London is cleansed of those who would dare question this city’s ability to do things right. After al the drum beats, wailing guitars and rousing choruses, the only sound I get is the lapping of the Thames against the walls of the Embankment. Beyond the wall stands an empty and open Temple Underground station. The staff look proud to have done their job against mad predictions of gridlock and train queues and are ready to close at 0300.

This is a privileged moment, I have this skyline almost to myself. In five hours’ time, this bridge will be packed with traffic and pedestrians and I pity them not knowing what I’m experiencing. But slowly, I come down a little and sensibility takes over, a few snaps from either side of the bridge and it’s time to head south not to sleep but to flick through a recorded closing ceremony on TV. I’m shall pour out a nice cold glass of wine and wait for sunrise to announce the official end to a night, a fortnight and a global love affair which should be sanctified at the altar of human unity. Reality can wait just a little longer.

But reality will come, I and my taxi driver comrades who chauffeured the best Games ever, will melt back into the London mix, woe betide the first one to give us stick, seeing us as just taxi drivers. We will be entitled to deal with our complainants with added authority. We know what we did. As for me, I shall seek my living as a chauffeur again. For all I know, the slowest driver in the world may again drive the fastest man in the world. I’m the one on the right. Peace.

Not often that I’m speechless, but this guy had the charisma to do that.