Counting Down

As I write this, it is 27 days, 11 hours and 27 minutes until the London 2012 Olympic Games open. It will be less by the time you read it. And I, for one, am stunned.

We have, I know, been talking about this for quite a while now, but even so, 27 days, 11 hours and 26 minutes?

There are, after all, things I mean to do before then and, for the last several weeks I have been getting myself into a bit of a state because I have, as yet, failed to do them. Apparently, I was right to worry because tempus is definitely fugiting. Fast. And there is still so much to get done.

For example, at the first of my Olympic volunteer training sessions, back in February, Eddie Izzard told me and my fellow 74,999 Gamesmakers that we were ‘The Face of the London 2012 Olympics’. He went on to mention that we were ‘also the bums of the Olympics’ and urged us to get out there, lose some weight and get fit because ‘we didn’t want the world to think we were a bit chubby’.

I meant to do it. I really did. In fact, I was going to lose 20 pounds, jog daily, learn what to do with those kettle bells I bought a few years ago, cut back on the white wine and learn to love broccoli. And now, with 27 days, 11 hours and 23 minutes to go, I think I am ready to leave the planning stages behind and actually start working on it. I won’t, however, make the mistake of tackling too much, all at once, because everyone knows that that is the route to certain failure. And so, today, Day 1, I think I will concentrate on buying some broccoli and, perhaps, dusting off a kettle bell.

And then, there are all those visitors coming. I was going to be totally ready for them. Honestly, I even have a list. It includes things like: repaint the entire house, wash all the windows, completely redesign the garden, buy pillows and duvets and towels, come up with a plan so that everyone has somewhere to sleep, purchase new houseplants to replace all the dead ones, and try to figure out what is happening to the wall in that bedroom – the one that has a worryingly large pile of grit gathering around the skirting board. So far, I have…found the number for a window cleaner but have not, as yet, called it.

I am starting to panic, a bit, and am working hard at convincing myself that while nothing has been crossed off this list so far, it isn’t because I haven’t gotten around to doing any of them. Rather, it’s a question of timing. After all, as soon as I repaint, wash and redesign, things will start to go downhill again. Marks will appear, dirt will settle, weeds will grow. The inevitable march towards houseplant death will begin. I’m in Olympic training mode here and I don’t want to peak too soon. Although, perhaps, that pile of gravel on the bedroom floor is something that needs looking into sooner rather than later. I’d better move it up the list.

And so, as is becoming my habit of late, I woke up this morning and trudged downstairs, bearing the weight of all the things I have not done on my shoulders and all the weight I have not lost around my hips. I looked at the calendar and realised that this is the last day on which I can pretend that it is not almost the Olympics. Yes, tomorrow I turn the page and…there it is. Right near the bottom, in large letters with circles around it and arrows pointing to it and even, I’m sorry to say, several exclamation points following it, is the single word – “Olympics”.

I wrote that on January 1st, secure in the knowledge that everything I wanted to do by then, would be done. This morning, I couldn’t believe how badly wrong I have gone. It was an upsetting thought, and moment.

And so, faced with an enormous number of things to do and a limited amount of time in which to do them, I did the only thing possible…I sat down at my computer and checked my emails, and the weather, and played a game of FreeCell and then turned to the BBC website.

Where I found this.

Olympic torch: Torvill and Dean skate with 2012 flame

And so, with nothing pressing, I pressed the play button, and watched it. Several times. And every time I saw it, I realised with a growing sense of pleasure that Britain may be a country with a challenging present and an uncertain future, but it is also one that knows how to do things with style. Real style.

Well, not me personally of course, but apparently a lot of other people around here really know how to put on a pageant. Where else would the Olympic torch relay run through a skating rink in Nottingham? One where Torvill and Dean were waiting for it. Ok, thinking about it, I guess this is the only place that has Nottingham, and Torvill and Dean, but even so, someone thought of it, and it was a great idea. And, those dozens of skating children, dressed in Olympic colours and forming the rings was a touch of brilliance.  But, strangely enough, perhaps the best part was the look on the face of the guy they handed the flame over to. You have to love it.

And I do, I really do.

So much, in fact, that I suddenly realised I was letting ridiculous things worry me and that I was in serious danger of turning a cause for celebration into one for anxiety. After all, I’m not actually all that fat. I think the world will be able to handle the sight of me in that uniform. Well, perhaps not, but it won’t be my weight that will be distressing them. And the visitors are looking forward to the Olympics and to being all together, not to the accommodations. I hope. I’m sure I will find places to fit them all in. We have a large garden. And several tents. And an extra pillow. Maybe even two.

And so, with 27 days, 9 hours and 52 minutes left to go (I stopped for breakfast – cereal, with SKIM milk – and lifted a kettle bell, twice) I can hardly wait. And I am not the only one. The Olympic flag is hanging from Tower Bridge, the torch is heading south from Nottingham, athletes have started arriving at the Olympic Village.

So, let’s turn the page of that calendar over. Because it’s almost London 2012 – and I’m ready for it!


I still have to get that wall seen to. And buy some houseplants. And ask someone if they can look at the lights in the upstairs bedroom. And collect my slightly larger-than-hoped-for uniform from some depot in an obscure part of London. And…

Not Leo Tolstoy (aka Eileen Riley)

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8 Responses to Counting Down

  1. james Riley says:

    If procrastination were an Olympic event, you would be wearing a different uniform. Good stuff

  2. Harriet says:

    I can say with some assurance that your visitors are grateful for a place to stay. Indoor plumbing will keep us happy. While bonus points will be awarded for a freshly painted interior (completely or partially), a redesigned garden, or new house plants, none are necessary for the occasion. Your visitors are most definitely looking forward to the Olympics and to being together. Oh yes, and looking forward to seeing you and Tom and Kimberly and Christopher. Not so much to new house plants.

  3. Cousin Margie says:

    Your part in the Olympics is sure to be a hit. Enjoy the experience and the fellowship. Take care.

  4. I feel I know you from your blog – and you sound like so much fun. I love Eddie Izzard (and am slowly converting my American friends to him) but he is, after all, the only executive transvestite to have run 43 marathons in 52 days. So don’t feel too bad…no-one can match that kind of craziness.

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