Pretty in Pink – the Olympics will celebrate our softer, smiley sides

4 May

So I enjoyed my first outing to the Olympic Park on Wednesday – the hockey test event featuring the best women’s and men’s sides concludes this Sunday at the Riverbank Stadium its first day was a treat. Well, forget that GB men slouched out late after half time and conceded a goal – possibly the match – when only 6 men and a dog were on the pitch to staunch the flow of Germans on our goal. We’ve had enough experience of the old enemy not to give them a bloody inch and here we were giving them several miles. Let’s hope Chelsea can manage a full complement in Munich. And forget, too, that the open stands meant that the characteristic post hose-ban weather meant that we humble spectators were wetter than Ed Miliband.

Let’s concentrate on pink. Off the Central Line, no signs left or right for the stadium but lots of visions in flourescent pink jackets with spongy pink fingers smiling and pointing our way to dreamland. There must have been a smiley volunteer every 10 metres, thinking ‘How long do I have to stand here and grin, anally, at hockey people?’ Answer….a bloody long time. And grin they did, in the relentless American-style Have a nice day way. And so helpful too with their fun spongy fingers – pink, pink, pink.

Through Westfield Shopping Centre (thought that was in Shepherd’s Bush?) busily gearing up for the spend-fest in July and Aug. Bars and restaurants and shops and wide walkways and glass facades – chic enough to shriek givusyamoney. Not too much pink hereThen into the Park itself. First security – it’s like Heathrow but so much quicker as our border agency’s not involved. Smug young operative on the belt brags that no airport in Britain can match it. Yeh, OK, but don’t sacrifice speed for Bin Laden’s mates. More pink directions once we’re through but the place opens up around us as the tingle of being on the Olympic way arrives. Ahead and left is the Pringle aquatic centre in all its low-slung smoothness. Right in front of us looms the Olympic Stadium – a brilliant confusion of the circular (overall shape) and triangular (floddlights, gantries and external pipework). It looks understatedly cool – rather unlike the lumpish Birdsnest. We swing right and find ourselves on a multicoloured  astroturf carpet – plenty of pink in it – and smooth cart-trains carrying punters who must be old, disabled or just plain lazy to one venue or another. Marquees hove into view – corporate catering territory to service the fat cats who have had their tickets paid for and who will, in all likelihood, miss Usain Bolt in favour of an extra glass of Merlot. Well it’s nearly pink.

We’re 20 minutes from the tube and as we swing right we see the Hockey Arena ahead. Starting to get excited. Are we nearly there yet. Yes, it looks about 5 mnutes away. Velodrome now to our right. That does look lumpish – but in quite a sexy way. The stadia seem to sit down so the docklands skyline beyond gets a look in. Even the main stadium doesn’t reach for the sky – London is visible beyond, over and through this park. I note the landscape gardens leading up to the Velodrome. Well done. Some circular building is being ercetd on our left as we enter the hockey zone. Hurry up with that.

And now we’re here. More people in pink. Still the smiles. Easy entry and now we look up. The stands are temporary – a scaffolders dream…but if the fans get excited will the rythm of their frenzied stamping create an amplitude too far? Ah I see the tented refreshment village at the rear of our stand. Time for coffee (yes I’ve already had a couple of beers so need to calm down). £2.40. Fair, I think. Then up to the gods of the East Stand. Wow – loadsapeople. India v the Aussie already under way. Free programme and fan-clapper presented by yet another smiley in Pink. But hte real pinkfest hits the eye when we emerge from the our steep climb.

The pitch! The Pitch! It’s Michaelangelo, deep duck-egg, Mediterranean –sky..BLUE. And the surround is the colour of our volunteers, their smiles, their tolerance, their whites mixed with reds – PINK. What fun! Mind you the concensus amongst the grumpies is that this is not hockey – or even sport – as we knew it. Grumpies are outnumbered by large no of Essex kids who fink it’s wicked and I’m with them. Hockey needs a boost and a Dali-esque bit of surreality is just the ticket. Now, the game’s the thing. Aussie pace, basics and method V India’s sometime virtuosity but oops the first goal goes in. Then a couple more. The Aussies hardly out of second gear win. Their coach, the estimable Ric Charlesworth, complains about the pitch. Slippery, too bouncy. A key player injured. Ah that’s the reason. Strange to hear an Aussie whinge?

Now the main event – and the half time debacle. I won’t let myself whinge of course but Germany’s 3 – 1 win owed something to umpiring inconsistency – South African (what can you do?)  – something to ball control (no not the pitch) – but most to the half time mess. And the fact that the bloody Germans are too good by half. But we’re close, very close. A blend of youth and experience, the pin-up Ashley Jackson but a few lesser-sung heroes who are hitting their straps.

Now I missed the GB women but, as I write, they are making their own strides with two wins. Our men recovered to beat India on thursday. All to play for as the tournament closes on Sunday. Enough hockey. As we trooped out to catch a Jubilee line train (variety is all) the self-same pink smilies were lining our route. Plenty of How did it go? See you in July? and Have a good trip home. Pink fingers guided us back and the Westfield Centre was thronging with hungry and thristy clients, most of whom must have fallen out of a Canary Wharf bonus bank because they were suited and booted and dry. It was we, drowned rats, who had enjoyed the Olympic Pink experience.

Pink Olympics? Bring it on. And we still had time for a beer on the way home. Decidedly amber.

One Response to “Pretty in Pink – the Olympics will celebrate our softer, smiley sides”

  1. Roger May 8, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    We are loving your writing and will encourage the world to follow not so SimplySorro

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