Olympic Event no. 2-Beach Volleyball

Olympic Event no. 2-Beach Volleyball

Some might think of it as BABES and BOYS playing on sand.

As for me, I'll always think it as that crazy, sold-out event, the acclaimed red hot ticket of London's 2012 Olympics. The Greeks would have loved it. Queen Victoria-- not so much.

It began early last Thursday morning. Just another workday for most of the UK, once again we were found jammed on a commuter train going from Esher to London using our gratis Olympic Travel Cards. Having come with each event we purchased, these Travel Cards were no mean bonus given their retail of US$15.

About the London commuter train for Metra and east coast Metro North travelers. The SouthWest trains have plush seats, no plastic Metra or CTA seats are these. Very posh, or upper class to this Yank's posterior. Though jammed with suits, women and men in business uniforms--it is dead silent. An occasional mumbled "sorry" is heard, as a knee bumps another knee, but not much more. It's all very proper, on a small island in small subway cars one learns to keep oneself to themselves. Ears are all plugged with earphones, iPads or mobile in hand. Though the British may dress like sheep in dark suits, they use their tie or shirt or socks to show their inner eccentricity. There's even a bin, or trash can on each car. Talk about fancy-dancy.

Arriving at Waterloo Train Station, we could transfer to a Tube (CTA, subway) or walk. Given the maps say it is 20 minutes to the Horse Guards--we walk. The signs showing the time to walk there varied en route, being longer than we'd expected but on a sunny London morning--what the hell, eh? This brings up another issue. Not only do those who compete in the Olympics need to in shape, so do attendees. There is no such thing as taking a taxi or chauffeured car to the Olympics, that is unless you are connected and I mean really connected. I seriously doubt Prince Harry or Mitt Romney took the Tube (CTA) to the Olympics. But for the rest of we great unwashed, it involved a lot of walking. So caveat emptor--and remember, to get in shape to go to the Olympics.

Into the Beach Volleyball at the Horse Guards we went with 15,000 attendees. The Horse Guards--with its views of London 360 degrees about us--absolutely stunning on yet another sunny (though occasionally threatening rain) day. As Big Ben chimed the hour, the matches began. Once again, the glaring WTF question was:  why are there so many EMPTY seats saved for those who don't bother to use them? The television cameras will probably never show you at home the hundreds of seats empty at every event--even at 'sold out' events. At the monstrous Wembley days later we saw easily 500-1000 seats empty across from the unwashed's seats. It wasn't because no one wanted them. Groupon is available in the UK. Was it machinations of Ticketmaster who were said to be in charge of the ticketing?

Beach Volleyball is simple. Two people hit it the ball back and forth. In between matches, there was The Show with mostly bikini babes, but a few boys. It was staged for you, at home. Completely played for the cameras, The Show ignored the attendees but then after awhile we ignored The Show. How can some over-made-up women compete with London?

As my super son-in-law noted, the entire thing was surreal. In the heart of Tourist London, a giant sand pit had been constructed literally behind No. 10 Downing Street. So close, it was reported that the Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron, was going bonkers hearing the same music from the beach volleyball arena played over and over. It was announced that all that sand would not go to waste, filling the sand pits of children's play areas throughout the country.

NOTE: Bushy Park's sand pit (sandbox to Yanks) really could use a bit more sand when you repurpose the sand.

This brought up the question, would the Secret Service allow such an event only steps from the White House. Au contraire.

So the four-match morning went. Men's Italy versus Brazil; Netherlands versus Argentina; etc. Then the bikini women players took the field. Questions have been raised in the press as to why the men wear so much and the women so little. Gee, I can't imagine why. After so much time in the sun, we got a beer. Apparently this is kosher at Beach Volleyball. At Wembley football (a.k.a. soccer) attendees were not allowed to be within sight of the pitch with a beer in hand.


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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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