We are London

I will admit that prior to the Olympics I was rather disinterested! I don't mind watching the odd sporting event but I'm not a follower and I wasn't even that excised about potential London travel chaos (that didn't materialize) as with a new baby I wasn't planning to go out much, and certainly not on the tube.

But I was drawn in, not just by the amazing gold rush and impressive role Yorkshire had to play, but by the opening ceremony, the volunteers that appeared all over London, and the general cheeriness that seemed to descend, as well as the jokes about a ginger, a Somali refugee and a woman walking into a bar and everyone buying them a drink. I do think the opening ceremony was a strange celebration of our own eccentricities which took an odd part of history and almost celebrated class division, and yet was charming, eccentric and humorous - very British perhaps. My favourite part was, however, when the torch was processed into the stadium flanked by those who had physically built it. Throughout it has felt like the games were a group effort, not only about glorifying individual athletes.

But I was also aware that during the opening ceremony we took time to remember 7/7, an important acknowledgement. We also passed the first anniversary of the London riots. London has been an amazing place to be this month, in large part down to us actually all being 'in it together' for once (although clearly lots of Londoners fled the city for the Lake District too!). But important as all this was, we as a city are also 7/7, and we are alsodisaffected youth terrorizing and destroying (as well as many others clearing up afterwards).

Both the riots and 7/7 saw an amazingly unified response from many quarters in London, and of course watershed moments such as these do have the effect of unifying people in response to the horrors; and sometimes these continue to ripple after the event: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/06/london-communities

It is wonderful that this summer we have been brought together for such positive reasons, and I hope we can find ways to continue to do so in years to come, perhaps with a smaller budget, but maybe with the same level of volunteering and success. But we can't ignore that London is also 7/7 and riots, that people are torn apart by social deprivation, disregard for each other, and fear of difference and terrifying Truth claims. Perhaps we can find a way to garner our spirit of volunteerism whether for the Olympics or in response to disasters, to contribute more widely, more frequently, and at a truly grassroots level, so that disasters of the future might be averted.


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