Sunday, 29 July 2012

The big day

Have I mentioned that I love the Olympics? Have I? I fell in love with the Olympics in 1984, the year that I bought a tiny Olympics workbook and carefully filled in the winner of every medal. I don't still have the book and I don't remember all the medallists, but I remember that it was the year of Carl Lewis, and of Evelyn Ashford, of Budd and Decker, of Seb Coe's winning grimace, of Daley Thompson's backflip. Obviously mainly I was obsessed with the athletics, I now realise.

And then on 6th July 2005, we won the right to host the Games, and I cried with joy. And then, on 7th July 2005, as I was sitting in my office in the City of London, four men blew up the tube, and I thought London would never be the same again. And now, seven years later, London is exactly the same as it ever was, except the Olympic Games are here, and it's brilliant.

I have thoughts, many thoughts, about the opening ceremony, but I'll save them for another time. For now, here's a picture of me and my best friend at Eton Dorney on the opening morning of the rowing. Here's to a brilliant fortnight.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

ATP: An update

The turmoil continues for those of us still affected by the non-arrival of our Dutch ATP tickets.

Some good news to start with: I have seen on Twitter today that a few people received their tickets this morning. I had a text from a friend to say hers arrived today as well. So some deliveries do still seem to be working their way through the system.

Now on to the less good news: what will happen if the tickets don't arrive. I have just had a long chat to ATP about my two orders.

Order 1 - this is not a disaster. The tickets I bought in Order 1 were part of ATP's official allocation and can therefore be reprinted to be collected from ATP's head office, which is near Waterloo station (conveniently enough the station I commute in and out of on a daily basis.) This might not be great for everyone, but it works for me.

Order 2 - this is not good. This order was filled from tickets that ATP acquired from another ticket reseller. This ticket reseller does not have a reprint capability so any tickets lost from this order are lost for good. ATP are attempting to provide tickets for the same sessions, but are only able to do so for one of the two events - for the other event, they are asking me to choose a different sport entirely as they cannot provide tickets for that event.

My feelings about this:
a) At least I will get some of my tickets.
b) At least ATP are trying to find a solution.
c) I am absolutely furious that something as simple as sending an envelope from the Netherlands to London has been so entirely buggered up.
d) I am hoping like mad the postman has turned up while I have been at work today.

If you have not yet heard from ATP regarding your order, send them an e-mail straight away with the reference number in the subject line. Alternatively, give them a call (the number is on their website). I might not necessarily like the answers I have been given today, but at least I have had a conversation about it.

The Torch relay and whether I thought it was cool

So, the Olympic torch rolled through my beloved hometown of Surbiton this morning. I went to see it. I mean, obviously I went to see it, I had to go and see it, it's the Olympics, I live two minutes from the route and if everything went to schedule it would only make me 10 minutes late for work, so obviously I went to see it.

Not a bad turn-out from the Big Surb. The crowds were two or three people deep along the high street, which generally only happens when there hasn't been a 71 bus along for half an hour or so. Seeing the torch itself was pretty cool (taking as read my basic issues with the torch's Nazi back story) and the young chap running with it looked both knackered and a bit overwhelmed, both of which seemed entirely plausible reactions to me. He was trying so hard to smile and not quite managing it that it made my heart hurt a bit with sympathy.

Also cool: the motorcycle outriders. They rode along super-close to the crowd but did not appear to mow anyone down or drive over any toes, and they high-fived all the kids in the front row as they went by. Neat work.

Not so cool, though: all the other stuff. The one guy doing tricks on his BMX was very good, but why was there only one guy? Why did Lloyds TSB have a branded bus and pack it full of people if they were all going to just sit there and look a bit sheepish? Why wasn't there an open top London bus? Or two? Or TEN? There should have been ten open top London buses. It's LONDON, people! Where are the London images in this torch relay for London 2012?

Finally, here is a rule that I believe the UK should live by: No Cheerleaders Ever. They're always a bit crap, and we are not a nation that responds well to being exhorted to cheer by dancers with pompoms who are always a bit cold and cross and embarrassed and mainly look like they want to be somewhere else.

The big blue bus of cheerleaders drove through Surbiton this morning, waving as enthusiastically as they could at the crowd while simultaneously making it quite clear that they were already bored rigid at 8.48am, while a man with a microphone yelled, "Come on Surbiton, make some noise!" We looked at him. He yelled again. We responded with a polite cheer and a smattering of applause. That is the suburban way. And lo, it was beautiful.

Monday, 23 July 2012

ATP and the saga of the Dutch Olympic tickets

For anyone who, like me, has been digging around for Olympic tickets on various European sites for the last however-many-months, the last month has been a nailbiting wait to see if these various Danish, Dutch, Deutsch and other websites could deliver. Top prizes to the Germans, who sent their tickets promptly in a lovely blue folder with complimentary lanyards.

Less good news for those of us waiting for the Dutch, however. As of this morning, I am still awaiting delivery. Rather than continuing to impotently send e-mails which only generate automated responses, I decided to call them up for a chat.

Firstly, don't call the London number. They haven't got a clue and will simply tell you to call the Dutch number.

I did call the Dutch number, and I spoke to an extremely polite chap with perfect English. He told me that Royal Mail actually opened a load of the envelopes as they were suspicious about the contents (they were sent insured, which means apparently that they travel in sealed crates) and then had to repack everything with new envelopes, new labels etc, which is why everything took so long. They cleared Customs last Thursday and were sent to the central sorting office. From there, they expect things to be delivered in between 2 to 4 days, so it could be as late as tomorrow or Wednesday. They are asking everyone what their absolute deadline for receipt is (factoring in getting tickets to friends, travel to London etc) and are considering various contingencies such as ticket reprint, collection at venue, collection at the London office (which is in Waterloo) etc.

If you still don't have your tickets, send them an e-mail with the reference number in the subject line, and they will send you a personal response by the end of the day once they have rounded up all the necessary information. I felt much reassured by the call, though I must say that I will not feel truly relaxed until I am holding my athletics tickets in my sweaty palm...

Yes, I do still exist

Let's not waste time on the reasons I haven't posted for 18 months. You will not read them, and I would be making them up. But I'm back. Why am I back? Because it's the OLYMPICS, BABY! I love them, I'll be blogging about them, so do check back in over the next few weeks if that sounds remotely interesting.