This should be a reasonably short blog....and probably the last one you'll have from me for a while. This is because I've twisted a few arms around the office and so a few different people will blog over the coming weeks!
Anyway, I thought I'd tell you a bit about the celebrations that took place in London last weekend to mark the handing over of the Olympics from Beijing 2008 to London in 2012. I'm guessing that everyone knows that the next Olympics will be held in London? It was a very close fought battle between London and Paris. I can remember watching the TV in the office as one by one all the other cities were dropped. Eventually, it was just down to London and Paris. But before the final announcement was made, the judges went to lunch! In Trafalgar Square (about half a km from Bush House) they had erected a huge screen so that people could watch as the announcement was made. I left the office and rushed down there - together with thousands of other people - and we all stood there waiting for the judges to have their lunch and come back and announce their decision. The square was packed, and as the IOC President said "and the 2012 Games have been awarded to...." you could almost have heard a pin drop before the crowd erupted when he said "....London!"
Anyway, all of that was 3 years ago. Since then building work has started and all sorts of plans have been made. It's fair to say that until a couple of weeks ago, a lot of Londoners were very apathetic and some were even against the Games, as they will cost a huge amount of money and taxes will rise. However, since Team GB did so well in Beijing, Olympic fever has gripped the country. Last Sunday the Games in Beijing ended and the Olympic flag was handed over to the Mayor of London. There were big TV screens in cities around the UK showing the event and in London there was a huge party. I was lucky enough to get tickets to the party, which was held right outside Buckingham Palace. I took two of the Rangers with me - it was sort of a "well done" present, as they have just passed their exams and are off to university. 40,000 people had tickets, so as you can imagine, it took a long time to get through the barriers. Here they are when we finally got in!
The event started with the handover of the flag being shown on a big screen and then there was a concert. At first there weren't too many people around us, but soon it was packed and the crowds went right up The Mall (that's the road leading up to Buckingham Palace). You could hardly move - apart from being able to put your arms in the air to wave your flag!
The music was so loud, that I could feel the road vibrating under my feet! I wondered what the Queen thought - she was at home, because the flag was flying on the top of Buckingham Palace. I heard on the news in the evening that Prince Harry was on the roof watching, but I doubt that the Queen was up on the roof with him ;-)
As well was the music, there were interviews with sporting stars (past and present). Onika was very excited when Phillips Iduwo (British triple jump silver medalist) came towards us and showed us his medal!
Michael Phelps was also there - but he didn't bring his 8 Gold medals and he was surrounded by big, burly minders so that no-one could get near him!
The highlight of the party for me, though, was when the Red Arrows flew straight down the Mall and over Buckingham Palace, streaming read, white and blue smoke.
Call me a big softie, but it brought a lump to my throat and made me proud to be British!
So, that's about it from me. One last thing - Marianna: no I don't have enough room for a carved tree in my home....but here's how I compromised!
to twist someone's arm: to persuade them
a close fought battle: a very tight contest
heard a pin drop: is quiet you could hear a pin falling on the ground
burly: with lots of muscles
a big softie: someone who is "soft-hearted" or sentimental
to bring a lump to your throat: to make you want to cry
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