The Party's Over

Trip Start Aug 01, 2012
Trip End Aug 15, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It was all over. I'd managed to watch the closing ceremony of London 2012 – this time, unlike the opening ceremony, I’d managed to watch the whole thing from beginning to end; from the opening city skyline, right through to The Who. During the Best of British (Pop Music), I was disappointed that David Bowie and Kate Bush had turned down the offer to appear, but then
remembering the flak Paul McCartney got after his performance in the opening ceremony, perhaps they were wise after all. Besides did they really want to appear at the same event as Jessie J and The Spice Girls? With age comes wisdom. However, if it was their age that they were worried about, they only had to look to The Who, who were very canny. Let someone come on and murder one of your iconic tunes (The Kaiser Chiefs) and then come out and rock it for real. Pure genius!

Now that the party was over, I was keen to get out and about to see if the feel-good factor was still in force in London. Unfortunately, I was still feeling a bit fragile so I had to put off my journey around London until the following day, which coincidentally was my last day in London.

Something that had been mentioned to me before, but I hadn’t really noticed, possibly because I wasn’t looking for it, was how empty London had been. Granted, I hadn’t been to any of the tourist hotspots except for the ones dealing with the Games, which for obvious reasons were always packed solid, however central London was really a mystery to me. Looking back on it, when I was at Trafalgar Square on Super Saturday there were not too many people there. Now, that the Games were over, surely the tourists would flock back to central London, wouldn’t they?

Well, if the South Bank is anything to go by, for that is where I went, the answer would be no. There were a lot of people, but not the numbers you would expect on a hot summer’s day in London. It was possible to go for a pleasant walk from Waterloo to the South Bank, up to Westminster Abbey and back to Charing Cross without feeling cramped or crowded. As feel-good factors go that was pretty good. However who was I mixing with? Not Londoners, that’s for sure. The true test would come on the way home.

For the first time in a long time, I walked around without my iPod on, just so I could eavesdrop on different conversations. As far as I could tell, it was as if the Olympics hadn’t happened. Everyone was grumpy again, strangers were arguing, people were worried about their finances – 'Doom & Gloom Britain' was back...with a vengeance.

It’s clear that the media (and the politicians) are trying to keep the happy-go-lucky spirit of the Olympics going, particularly with the Paralympics around the corner, but I fear that it might be an anti-climatic event. I hope I’m wrong, but for the moment, the feel-good factor has gone...and so am I.

Goodbye London. The party was fun while it lasted, but I feel I've outstayed my welcome. As we say in Spain, Hasta la vista! 
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