Olympic Event, no. 1

 

How to Train for the Olympic ticket lottery

Everyone knows about the skills needed to be an Olympic athlete, but think of the attendees--for there are skills necessary to win the opportunity to buy tickets of the modern Olympics. Computer skills. For us it began in the summer of 2011 when our UK based daughter Jennie began the search for Olympic event tickets. Click--clicky-click went the computer keys with her rapid fire fingers as she requested various event in round one. We--like many a Brit--got a big fat nought, or zero. But Jennie is in sales. Even as a child she'd negotiate everything using her terrier instinct of hunting the rat, she wouldn't give up.

Hadn't she scored three, it was three--tickets to see her GOD Prince's concerts a few years earlier in London using her two computers and two mobiles (cell phones)?

So onward and clickety click went her fingers over the keyboard.

Meanwhile in Legal/Finance London it was later reported to me that the Pink shirted, Saville Row types turned up their noses, having no interest in attending Olympic events. They had more important things on their minds, things like deals. And after all, wasn't 40 pounds a lot to ask for to sit in the upper reaches of some sporting event you didn't know a thing about? The Old Boys too cool for school.

Bingo, we got the email. Jennie scored three event tickets for us. The four adults would go to Beach Volleyball at the Horse Guards (in the heart of London), and all adults with the grandsons we'd all go to Women's Basketball and Women's Football at Wembeley.

Basketball in the UK

Memories are often visual, or olfactory. This one will always be auditory. Of the family behind us in the basketball stadium politely chiming out with what passes for cheering (think the volume of a loud cellphone) "Defence! Defence!" (UK spelling and proununciation). The gentleman shared at break that yes--he had played basketball in school. Unsurprisingly he added, it wasn't exactly a UK sport though. He was quite happy to be there with his family, calmly noting how exciting it all was. Understatement in the land of "Keep Calm and Carry On" is the socially acceptable norm.

Don't be offput by Brits if you come over the pond. It is amazing how friendly they can be when they hear our USA foreign accent, for we all have an accent in comparison to another. Born and bred Chicagoans always ask where I'm from recognizing my not-quite-Chicago accent, with its mixture of New Jersey, Texas and Canada, et. al.

Using the Travel Cards that came with our Olympic tickets, offering train and unlimited Tube (subway) usage, were a joy. What a brilliant way to encourage use of mass transit. Photos in the papers were full of Prime Minister Cameron riding the Tube. Now consider for a moment--President Obama on CTA? Romney? Must be a caffeine deficiency lack of black tea allowing me to even imagine either of those.

Once again only 12 hours after leaving the Olympic Opening Ceremony we enter the venue via Stratford through the Westfield Shopping Mall. Going in the Olympic Park was again easier than security at Midway Airport. Inside the Olympic Park was fuller than the night before-but still do-able. Toilets without a line, potable water refill stations easy to refill empty water bottles we brought into the Park.

We go to the basketball game. After the Canada versus Russia game--where of course we cheered for Canada (who lost) given we'd lived there four years when our daughter had been born there in what then was a delightfullly easy socialized medicine system--thank's Dr. Bennett and Dr. Lee. The place was mobbed with families, at a guess-20% children. No matter that many wouldn't have a clue what basketball was--or a dog in the hunt, just pick a side and cheer the team on. It was wonderful. What I'd imagine a gathering of the world should and could be.

Afterwards, wandering about we came across some of the Russian women basketball players who were surprised by a young boy's request for autographs and photos with the athletes. This is the very best of how humanity lives together.

Later the paint began to peel as by 2PM food vendors were out of food--though there was no line for beer and ice cream. No Jack Potatoes (Baked Potatoes that are a full meal here), or Fish 'n Chips or nada. So it was Pringles and a pint for lunch. Well why not? Isn't that all the basic food groups? Salt, sugar and carb? Sitting al fresco with the jumbo screen watching the bike race past Hampton Court on a ridiculously sunny day, I had say. Doesn't get much better.

Next morning the two-year-old grandson awoke calling "Olympics." It's in the air.

 

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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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