Friday, July 06, 2012

Torchy (not the battery boy)

And so Felixstowe got to share in the Olympic Dream(tm) last night when the Torch Relay(tm) passed through. Being a keen documenter of such things, I wasn't going to let the photo-opportunity go by, but somewhat to my surprise I found the whole event extremely good fun. Having seen the crowds that turned out elsewhere in the country it was no shock to see people setting their chairs up at the start of the Felixstowe section when I got home, having left work early on purpose. But I will admit to be impressed by the final turnout. From what we saw in the flesh and the photos of others it seems this was probably the best-attended event in town for a number of years. The superb weather was no doubt a contributing factor, stirring people from outside town to make the trip in (especially as the more touristy bits of east Suffolk like Southwold and Aldeburgh had been rain-struck earlier in the day) but there was a genuine buzz of interest from the crowd in the event itself rather than just a rent-a-mob feel from people who will watch anything if it goes past their house.

We had bands playing and church bells ringing along with all the offical hooplah (juggling acrobats and that sort of thing) before the Convoy(tm) arrived. I'd say that BMW(tm) have done very well out of the deal - supplying all the cars and Police bikes - but although the whole thing was heavily sponsored it didn't feel like overkill. Yes we got Samsung(tm), Coke(tm) and Lloyds-TSB(tm) trucks and buses coming through first giving out freebies, but they weren't as blatant about it as I was expecting. Pity only Coke were giving out product samples though - just imagine if Samsung handed out electrical goods or Lloyds-TSB offered pre-filled savings accounts or cheap mortgage deals to people in the crowd rather than just balloons and banners...

Having picked a town-centre spot with no shadows to spoil my pictures, by pure chance we ended up slap bang next to a flame exchange (or "kiss"(tm no doubt) as they are calling it) location. We also ended up with our designated "celebrity" for the day as the reciever at this point - 1988 gold medallist swimmer Adrian Moorhouse. Which was nice, and if you click through to Flickr on the picture above you can see much more of the whole shebang.

OK, after 45 days or so on the road you would expect them to have it all down pat by now, but it was indeed a very slick operation. But what impressd me most was that all the participants seemed to still be enjoying it. After a month and a half you could expect the Police to be a bit fed up of moving people out of the way, or the drivers to have had enough of crawling through town centres but everyone was sporting genuine unforced smiles, waving like loons and generally being caught up in the moment just as much as the crowd who were experiencing this for mostly the first and only time.

Has it stoked me up for the Games(tm) themselves? Not really, I was already planning to watch bits when I get the chance, and I'm not now scouring the interwebs for tickets as the whole getting there, security, etc seems like too much hassle for me. Especially with our weather prospects. But I am looking forward to them just as much as I was before, so at least I've not been disillusioned by the corporate sponsors.