Monday, 11 June 2012

The Olympic torch saves my empty head

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

One of the things I thought, as I meandered about the house, making tomato soup and catching up on domestic tasks, is, oh how lovely now the book is done, I can really take time for the blog. Must not bang on too much, I thought, but I can let my thoughts expand. There shall not be the crazed tunnel vision, the constant feeling of rush and hurry, the devils crowding and jostling at my back.

I sat down to write with a joyful feeling of space and possibility. I could tackle anything.

Looked at the blank page; placed fingers on the keys; sat up straight. NOTHING.

My head emptied of thought, as if cerebral water were rushing down a drain.

Then, luckily, the Olympics came to my rescue. The torch was coming through the village, so off went the Pigeon and I to see the show. It was very British, and absolutely absurd. There were a few slightly embarrassing corporate buses, with whooping people dressed in Samsung and Coca-Cola logos talking incomprehensibly into microphones. Then there were many, many support vehicles. The best bit by far were the coppers, who zoomed about on their fat yellow motorbikes, looking rather delighted and bemused as they got cheers from the crowd. (I imagine people do not ordinarily cheer the police.) They did 360 degree turns and gave the children high-fives as they drove past. It made everyone laugh.

Then, finally, there was the torch. It looked terribly gimcrack, but the woman carrying it ran along strongly and looked perfectly delighted.

And then they were gone.

The whole thing had been terribly late, so I had been standing there for ages, quite grumpy that I had missed the four-thirty from Newton Abbot, but at least the delay had given me time to make friends with some very nice older ladies. This was all due to the Pigeon. They could not get enough of her. They stroked her noble head and remarked on her excellent figure and could not believe she was fourteen years old. At the end, as we looked at each other rather ruefully, one of the ladies said: ‘You know the best bit about the whole thing was your dog.’

I was quite beside myself.

I got home to find the horse I had backed had hacked up at Newton Abbot and my William Hill account was blooming with health. Leveson appeared to be going on, again, and the England team were playing football against their old rivals, the French, but I could not face watching it, as they always lose and then I feel sad.

I thought about the Olympic relay. It had a scruffy, shambolic quality which did feel very appropriate to poor bashed-up old Blighty; I quite liked the fact it was not all shiny and special. The Bank of Scotland appeared to have chartered an ice cream van, for no reason anyone could understand. But it was lovely to see the village out on the street, and I found the Younger Niece and her friend, all dressed up in special running gear, in the athletic spirit, and we laughed and made jokes about the whole thing. That’s what we do here, really. Make jokes about the whole thing. I’m rather glad we do.



A quick couple of pictures for you, not awfully good I’m afraid, but to give you some idea of the village strung out along our main road:

11 June 1

11 June 2

11 June 3

The battery ran out before the torch itself arrives, but you have not missed much. Since of course, this was REALLY what people had come to see:

11 June 5

Meanwhile, Red was mooching about up in her field:

11 June 10

And the hill emerged from the clouds for five minutes, to take her own bow:

11 June 11


  1. Sounds like a good day to me! I doubt the police will be like that tomorrow when the torch goes by me :S x

  2. I had totally forgotten about the torch by now and yet it is obviously on its way down to us.
    I just remember feeling quite irritated when I first heard that each torch cost about £450 to produce and that there were 8,000 of them. Silly me! I honestly thought that one, just one torch could be carried across the country and be handed over each time the next runner was ready. Now the torch bearers are making a nice bit of cash selling their 'mementos' on eBay. I still haven't decided whether that is okay or just plain greedy. Or maybe I should have just been a better runner at school?
    Sorry, such a long runt. I am glad the pigeon stole the show though.

  3. Well, of course The Pigeon was the star of the day. I'm surprised she wasn't carrying the torch. :)

  4. I found this post terribly endearing - there is something so appealing about communities gathering together for special events. I live in a NSW country town just outside Canberra and I can remember lining up to watch the torch, "There's Coral" and the local paper taking pictures. Quite lovely.


  5. And here I thought there was only ONE "The" Olympic torch, lit at Mount Olympus and passed hand to hand around the world until it reached the Olympic stadium! (Sigh....I still believe in the SPIRIT of Santa Claus!)

  6. Late to the party, but have to say: love the older ladies. They know what's what.

    And despite the commercial aspect of the Olympics these days, isn't it nice that whole groups of us can still turn out for what is supposed to be a symbol of good?



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