Monday, August 13, 2012

Our Olympic Games

We all have our memories of the 2012 Olympics in London. As far as my own family (Margreet and I) were concerned, we planned to not travel, stay at home, lock the door, and watch the goings-on on television.
            But, as I am English and Margreet Dutch, there was a dichotomy of allegiances involved. “We” generally meant English (or British) and us both, and “you” - Dutch. So Margreet had a firmer foot in my camp and me a lighter foot in hers – if you can see what I am trying to say.
What we hadn’t quite anticipated was that we were to entertain some (generally large) Dutch relations and their friends.
Two of these were dressed entirely in orange suits. They were not just ragbag and bobtail but well-educated and fervent nationalists – and out to have fun.
I felt that their violent orange display of nationalism was rather on the excessive side, but then realised that many of the home crowd were adorned equally violently in the bright colours of the Union flag.
Anyhow, after imbibing elsewhere beforehand, our Dutch contingent came to be entertained for drinks in our garden, where a considerable amount of wine was consumed. With only olives and our “house” pancake to eat, they left for Olympic entertainment (provided by bikini-clad Beach Volleyball ladies) in a jolly mood.
Just what happened to them later was none of our business. We heard that they returned to the Netherlands having had a splendid time here.
            Another Dutch relation, an eminent lawyer and ardent sports fan (especially of Olympics), had been residing with friends in a hotel near to Victoria Station. He had seen and enjoyed many of the sporting events that took place in specialist venues – one building of which he found to be architecturally interesting.
            He came to visit family before leaving for home and had quite a different view of the Olympic occasion.
            He loved the sports, but found the Olympic site to be far too large. It had been a considerable trek to get from one venue to another. Whereas the more compact Athens site had been an occasion for intimacy between spectators and athletes, here there was too much space in which to feel part of the sporting and festive scene.
            He also found the colours of buildings and paving to be drab after Athens. All seemed grey, in contrast to the colours displayed in Greece.
            One of his comments really interested us. He was astounded to see so many drunken women lying on the ground in London.
            So, in two groups of Dutchmen, we experienced two diverse viewpoints concerning the games.
            One crowd had come “on the spree” and loved it, the other to enjoy the camaraderie, colour and sport, with the sport winning hands down, and with the rest rather a disappointment.