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Monday, August 25, 2008

London Transport represents London at Olympic Handover

Sadly, I never watched London's eight minute piece in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games live. However, thanks to the internet -
BBC iPlayer, Twitter and various online news sources I managed to see how London took the Olympic torch from Beijing in yesterday's handover ceremony. Many people including myself believe that London won't be able to live up to Beijing when we get the Olympics in 2012, however in the ceremony a double decker bus transformed into a err ... hedge-like Transformer, so perhaps there may be a tiny glimmer of hope.

London double decker bus in Olympic Handover - BBC Screengrab

"Being on a lift in a London bus kicking a ball into a stadium is something I've never done before and as an East End boy that makes me proud", said David Beckham in an interview before the ceremony.

The Guardian described it well "Enter the bus. After the cinematic drama of Beijing's opening and closing ceremonies, the Waldorf and Statlers of Her Majesty's Press had been waiting for London's straight-to-video offering. It wasn't a complete turkey, but it's probably fair to say 2012 has yet to give the world its House of Flying Daggers.

Eight minutes isn't long, though, and the double-decker had to navigate its way round the edge of the stadium to a bus-stop queue of snazzily dressed folk with umbrellas. Apparently this was intended to symbolise "the British preoccupation with the weather", which seemed less than enticing. Come to London! It'll tip down.

Scramble to get on bus - Olympic Handover -  BBC Screengrab

There was no room on the bus, which would have made this a cinéma vérité look at capital life had the bus not begun turning into a hedge, like a particularly benign Transformer. Then it tipped out a little girl, chosen by Blue Peter viewers (if you can believe that these days).....

Transforming Double Decker Bus - Olympic Handover - BBC Screengrab

Could London do without having to succumb to its fifth "swinging London" rebrand since 1995? There wasn't time to dwell on it, because everyone knew the bus was saving its most precious cargo till last. And suddenly he was there, and in an unbranded tracksuit, of all things. Behold, world, our Beckham! Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair! This guy the crowd did recognise, and they gave him the biggest reception of Britain's segment by far. One free kick into the crowd later, and London shunted themselves off, umbrellas twirling rather wanly.
."

Last week on this blog, we were pondering some real London Olympic sports or some London Underground sports for 2012 games and it appears that I have a little bit of Mystic Meg in me. I would have loved to seen Brompton racing in the Olympics and said "But why not have races in Brompton cycling? You'd have to unassemble your bike and get all your rucksacks & stuff together while leaping off a Tube train in the fastest possible time."

Brompton on the Piccadilly Line

So "imagine my surprise" when I found out on Twitter (thanks JamesCridland) that the Olympic handover to London involved Gold medallist & cyclist Chris Hoy riding a Brompton bike.

Chris Hoy on Brompton Bike - Olympic Handover Ceremony - BBC Screengrab

Sweet.

Brompton at Beijing Twitter

Sorry James no idea who will win the National next year.

The BBC's coverage of the closing ceremony was very impressive and even I, as a card card carrying non sport watcher, enjoyed it on iPlayer. They gave some lessons to be learnt for London and lesson seven is "Trains, Trains, Trains", as the BBC presenter said that Beijing's subway system was exemplary.

Subway update by London Annie

You can join the discussion as to whether the Tube system will be able to cope with the Olympics in an earlier post.

I love China's take on London getting the games as chinaview.cn describes the handover "The transformation of the famous London bus also provides a powerful example of the urban and practical being transformed into the dynamic and spectacular, symbolizing London's vision to use the power of the Games as a catalyst for change."

Not quite sure how "dynamic & spectacular" a hedge is. But if it's a hedge sprouting London's Leona Lewis (the best thing to come out of X Factor - I predicted X Factor rejects for our opening ceremony) and Jimmy Page singing Whole Lotta Love, perhaps they have a point.

X Factor Olympics on Twitter

Here's hoping I'm proved wrong and perhaps we'll see a Tube train transforming into a "dynamic & spectacular" transport system for 2012. Or then again, it may just be trundled onto the opening ceremony and transform itself into sardine can!


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