Back in the spring, with the calendar dominated by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics, I expected our lives would feel a little empty, come September. What on earth could we look forward to after all that summer treasure: diamonds, gold, silver and bronze?
Yet with the Autumn Term upon us, I’m still remarkably buoyed up by all the excitement. The Olympics have left us a wealth of unexpected legacies, quite apart from the planned regeneration of East London. Here are some of the things that the Young household has gained. My nine-year-old daughter Laura’s points first:
- A greater awareness of the world beyond the Cotwolds, its many countries, nationalities and ethnic diversity
- An encyclopaedic knowledge of these country’s national flags
- A keen interest in – and mostly, but not always, the ability to spell – numerous sports that she’d never heard of before this summer
- An awareness of history being made all around her – she’ll have plenty of memories to share with her grandchildren, beginning every story with “I was there when…”
This is what I have gained from the London 2012 Olympics:
- The totally new experience of wanting to read a newspaper backwards rather than forwards. Previously the most use I’ve had for the sports section has been to line the cat litter tray.
- A huge sense of relief that our beautiful national flag has been redeemed from dodgy punk rockers and right wing fanatics, to be flourished now with unremitting pride.
- A renewed respect for the Royal Family. If that fabulous double act by the Queen and James Bond doesn’t soften the hearts of the hardest Republican, then nothing ever will.
- A passionate longing to have one of those long-legged swimsuits that triathletes wear – and the figure to go with it. Watch my personal space – I’ll be taking up less of it from now on.
- A genuine conviction that the main role of British athletes at international sporting events is not to provide comic relief, but to win medals and inspire generations to come with their talent, dedication and single-mindedness.
Even my husband, a proud Scottish republican, gained from this summer’s outpouring of British pride: so that Laura and I could enjoy the festivities unrestrained, we gave him free rein to go off and climb Scottish mountains all summer, Munro-bagging, as it’s known north of the border.
I know I’ve always been a bit of a Pollyanna, ever able to irritate gloomy friends with my “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” attitude. But now I’m sure there’s a much broader optimism afoot – a national conviction, in fact. We may no longer rule the waves, but boy, do we know how to make them. It’s been a truly Great British summer. I’ve forgotten and forgiven the rain.
This post was written for the Tetbury Advertiser (September 2012 edition).
If you liked this post and want to make the Olympics last a little longer, you might like to read some of my other posts about the Olympics: