Friday, July 08, 2005

Feeling oddly lucky today. I went up to Great Ormond Street hospital on Wednesday with my son, travelled on the underground, walked and taxied around the Russell Square and Tavistock Square area. Fate's an odd thing.

We waited in the Costa Cafe for Ali's x-ray appointment, and the announcement for the Olympics bid was playing on a flat screen tv on the wall. I am renowned for my disdain about sport being the opium of the masses, having replaced religion, and I find it hard to care about sporting milestones, or sporting success.

We say that Sky said that the announcement was imminent, and watched as the two Singaporean presenters awkwardly complimented one another upon their appearance and introduced the announcement. I had bought a sandwich and a coffee, Ali had a soft drink, and we watched as they announced that they would play the promotional films from the five cities remaining in the race.

Paris had a very upbeat film, all primary colours and smiling people, obviously produced by an ad agency.

New York had, by contrast, a very sombre film, all black and white and no sport as far as one could see - sights of the city, a musician, very downbeat and dark.

Moscow's was different again, small snippets of film, which appeared to include thank yous to all of the other cities bidding for the games.

Madrid's looked oddly amateur, with talking faces suddenly projected from the screen, overlaying the city panoramas. We couldn't hear what was being said by the scary big heads.

Although I am partisan, I would have to say that I thought London's was the best of the films. There was music, there was a story which didn't require you to speak or understand English, and there was the idea that ordinary people could do extraordinary things. I thought it stood head an shoulders against all but the Parisian film, and had more heart and soul than any of them.

We were keeping an anxious eye on the time, as we didn't want to have to leave without knowing what had been decided. Then they appeared to announce that the announcement was coming...and then three opera singers started to sing. There was an audible groan from the considerable crowd which had gathered to hear the announcement.

The singers finished, we were on the edge of our seats...and the camera focussed on a girl who was holding a cushion to enable her to carry the envelope with the result to the President of the IOC.

We waited with baited breath as she crossed the stage, and then the President bad her stand by while he said a few words...another groan escaped the crowd.

At long last, he took the envelope, opened it, and announced that the Olypiad would go to the city of...
...London! there was an involutary cry of YES! by all in the cafe, including me, and including the woman who, moments before, had said that it would be a nightmare were the Olympics to come to the town.

We finished our appointments, walked away from the hospital, to find a cab.

The next day, I listened with growing alarm as the reports of a "power surge" seemed to affect moe and more stations...when a bus exploded at about 9.45, it was clear that there had been a terrorist attack. I thought about the people gathered in that cafe, all jubilant that the Olympic were coming to London. How many of them were caught up in the horror, trying to get to work?

How easily we fall into terrible circumstances, and how easily we escape. A missed bus can save your life...a missed bus can cost you your life. Hitting the snooze button can save your life...hitting the snooze button can cost you your life. And no-one can know which will be which.

I went in to SL to a barrage of IMs asking if I was OK. Made a candle and a poem as a memorial to those who died. I can't bring the candle here, but I can show you the poem.

Spirits rising
They left expecting ordinary days
Instead found they were going on a different sort of journey
They left their cups of coffee and unpaid bills
Stepped out of their homes and away from their lives
And can't return
Instead their souls set free today,
In darkness and confusion,
In smoke and pain,
Soared away from their broken bodies
Into a life beyond
Light a candle for their friends and their families.
Light a candle for their children...
Their wives and mothers...
Husbands and fathers...
Light a candle for the loss
But their souls were set free today
Into a life beyond
The people in real need of light,
Of prayers and illumination
Set those bombs

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