London Olympics Part 1--The Whoops

You know that moment before you host a party. That last minute moment when your guests are due, will they come---and you over think it all.  Do we have enough food and drink? And what about the ice given the refrigerator's wonky automatic ice maker is dead? Well, sitting under an always grey (English spelling) UK sky one thing is crystal clear. London is having a last minute moment, a what if second guessing as the countdown clock gets to be hours till the Olympics and the focus of the world will be on London and the UK. Then the world's second guessing, Monday-morning quarterbacking pundits will speculate about should-a, would-a.

Already the Murdoch tabloids and others are full of "whoops" moments. After all, didn't the powers who be, i.e. the Suits decide rather last-minutely "egad--we need MORE security." The outsourced security company said, no problem--confident in their superhuman abilities to fulfill the contract with telly-ready recently bleached teeth. No problem until there was a problem. Gee whiz, when you hire security people who don't show--what then?

When you're a government and you demand more security, you have a Plan B in your quiver--your military. So now a couple of thousand soldiers in full-camouflage will be on display at the Summer Olympics of 2012. Nothing like seeing the full dressed military scowl to feel like one is in jeopardy. For some in my already security conscious family, it is not reassuring to see the military scattered about London like extras in a Dr. Who invasion storyline.

Very Third World people, truly and as many know--I know from Third World as seen through the eyes of a First World-er.

So Chicago, maybe it was for the best that we didn't get it. Imagine our already wayyy too congested highways blocked off (with heavy monetary penalties for using these verboten areas), with various lanes saved like seats in the school cafeteria for the "cool kids". The cool kids being the Olympic athletes or for the deep-pocketed sponsors. Or buses for the Olympic hopefuls, or government mucky-mucks. Talk about your road rage.

Of course, there is the mass transit of the tube...or subway to you and I. In a city that of over 8 million, the system shows strains on most days despite the recent input of some ready cash--as my son-in-law found once again, stuck on a light rail home for an extra 30 minutes. Will it handle it? We topped up the Oyster cards (a smart card like the Chicago Card used on CTA). So can skip that line. But clearly the message to Londoners--GET OUT OF TOWN, has been heard. Theaters, restaurants and more are offering special deals to fill seats.

Then there is the issue of what you can and cannot bring. Entire links dedicated to questions of bags, sizes, flags, etc. The question of taking a nappy-diapered child will be interesting. And leave the MasterCard home, not accepted--but Visa is, this despite most of us who couldn't care less what our credit cards are branded. MasterCard or Visa, it's all Chase to me.

Even Apple appears to not be an official brand, ironic given the end of term school play I just attended (storyline, that using too many cars, chopping down trees and overheating/cooling of homes is killing the penguins and polar bears.) On display were many cell phone cameras, all Apple iPhones.Will one be busted for taking photos with a non-sponsored camera-phone?

The biggest whoops has to be how tickets to events were distributed. First, it is reported to be ILLEGAL to resell opening event tickets, on pain of fines and time done in queues. Okay, the first part of that, not the last. Nevertheless, there are a reported half million--that's 500,000 unsold soccer tickets. This in the land of soccer (a.k.a. football. Think about it. It is a game of FOOTball in reality). When we arrived at Heathrow--standing in a line shorter than the queue at the loo, line at the toilet--the charming immigration agent asked the usual. Why are you here, then in a friendly fashion asked are you going to the Olympics. Told yes, he was taken aback. "HOW did you get tickets." We explained the daughter who lives here, the first time not getting any...etc. Her winning opening tickets (thank you Pantene again.) He was amazed. He and his mates weren't able to get any. Londoners unable to attend the second biggest party of the year (the Queen's jubilee coming first.) Neither could the lovely young woman who chatted me up in a shop. And her friend is a puppeteer at...oh, I forget. That was top secret.

So the WHOOPS moments are upon us in London. Maybe Chicago lucked out, truly. Eh tu Brazil?

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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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