Anywhere BUT London!
Boris Johnson might be keen to welcome the world to London for the 2012 Olympic Games, but the locals are not convinced. It’s not that they don’t want to share their magnificent city with the world, but they already do that every single day!
Add in another million or so visitors to an already frantic city and well, it’s going to get messy.
Londoners are starting to feel nervous and with good reason. On the already crowded Tube, Boris’ booming voice is advising city folk to ‘get ahead of the Games’, and not to ‘get caught out’. In other words – stay off the Tube! Which would make a great deal of sense if you didn’t need to go to work or carry on living your day to day life.
The Tube is already a mess in summer time, hampered by the city crowds and tourists, all sweating armpits and halitosis riding a Tube without airconditioning. But now Transport for London (TfL) are advising Londoners that there will be up to a 30 minute wait to get onto a train in rush hour between 5-7 pm, during Games time. I wonder how that’s going to work? Where will the people stand? On the crowded platform, on the crowded street?
Tfl have thought of that. They’re already practising queuing worst case scenarios, and also advising Londoners to walk.
But London is not an easy city to walk around. It’s not unusual to take 30 minutes simply to get across from one spot in Central London to another walking in rush hour, and that’s not taking into account time wasted falling over tourists who have inconveniently stopped to take photos of Big Ben, at the entrance of the Westminster Tube Station!
Perhaps it would be easier to drive?
Yes it would be easier. But only if you were a Games official or athlete and could legally drive in the VIP lanes.
Maybe a bike is the way to go, to get around London? One could ride a bike (a Boris bike presumably) but that would be tricky if you need to go into Central or East London as bikes will not be allowed on the Tube during Games time, due to last until the end of the Paralympic Games around the 11 September. And then there’s the matter of the kids and the family dog… or perhaps the powers that be are suggesting families adopt this approach to transport?
It all sounds to me like a modern addition to Dante’s hell!
Or last week’s episode of the excellent spoof documentary ’2012′ coming to life where the crack PR team in charge of Olympics’ deliverance came up with the ‘ingenious’ PR strategy to help Londoners manouvre around the Olympics by finding a ‘way to go’ should they irresponsibly decide to go into labour, or have a heart attack and require medical attention.
Oh the catastrophisation!
But coloured posters and catchy phrases, and Boris’ cheerful voice on the Underground is not enough to convince Londoners that they should stick around. There’s also the slightly worrying signs of extreme security - of surface to air missiles placed on residential tower blocks strategically around Central London, the mooring of an aircraft carrier with cargo of helicopters on the Thames and the tornado fighter jets now based in Greater London.
No one’s saying that the security measures shouldn’t be there, it’s all just a tad worrying…
Recent revelations that the security firm tasked with providing security for the Games has failed to provide enough staff, has also pumped up the volume on security concerns, as already stretched serving police and armed forces have been ordered in to provide cover.
All of this layers on top of what is already a fairly depressing situation – a double dip recession and the worst summer in decades. On the upside at least the mechanical ‘clouds’ due to burst summer rain onto the ground in the British Countryside themed opening ceremony, should the real weather not perform, will not be required.
But enough of this doom and gloom!
I propose that there should be a new event at the Olympics – an athletics and strategy event. It will involve team work and planning and careful training. We could call it the Exodus event, and it would only be open to Londoners. The objective would be to get to the finish line (the airport) first whilst negotiating various hurdles (traffic jams, tube chaos, armageddon), and the prize wouldn’t be a medal but a ticket to anywhere (but preferably somewhere hot and sunny).
And for all those who cannot afford to take part in this new event, or have left it too late and are out of fitness, there’s always that other option. The one that Boris and others at the TfL and the LOCOG trot out, when pushed.
You could always stay at home.
Who’s with me?
Who else is participating in this new Exodus event?
Images: Flickr CC