28/29 August 2012

Hello dear reader. Sorry I've been a bit slack in updating over the last few days. I've spent some of them working my ass off, or being asleep.

Ooh - breaking news - someone at my hotel room door....

....HURRAH - laundry has been returned - I was getting in to a challenging position foundation-garment wise. Lets just say now I wont have to go commando in my uniform shorts tomorrow or wear DT's pants. Phew.

So cast your mind back if you will to Tuesday 27 August.......

Well it's 7.30 and for the first time I use the amazeballs Hailo app for the iphone. Its genius, and ideal for where I'm staying as we're not a haven for passing cabs....and it's off to Marylebone station before you can say "where too guv'nor" - not that all cabbies in Londinium talk like Dick van Dyke.

After getting a coffee from the station prior to boarding train to Aylesbury (more on that later) I walked out clutching said latte and pain au chocolate (for my throat) and in walked a pigeon - which then went on flapping rampage around the cafe. I was just grateful my latte didn't have feathers or 'anything else' in.

Boarded train to Aylesbury where I was helping out slash manage a trio of overlapping events at our building there - what could possibly go wrong? Hmm.

The train takes you past Stoke Mandeville, and I could spy from the train the stage being set for the events that were to follow to kick off the Paralympic Torch Relay.

Picture one shows the fun and games being set up for colleagues on a grassy knoll. BBQ, photos with the Torch, Wii Games etc etc - and after the hilarity of the plethora of rain experienced in Londinium just a few days before I was most glad that the weather turned out to be amazing. 300 turned out to take part which was amazing - they had design competitions, face painting - the lot (tho every time I see face painting I think of the tiger face in Phoenix Nights....)

Everything for the Paralympic Fun Day went to plan. I didn't however get the opportunity to have a BBQ burger.

Meanwhile - over at Stoke Mandeville the Paralympic Flame was being born. And the 24 Hour Paralympic Torch Relay kicked off straight from there.

Then it was phases two and three of the activity in Aylesbury. The building was acting as a collection point for the Paralympic Torch Relay Torchbearers. Again what could possibly go wrong. Over 100 people, 60 Torchbearers, finance people from London 2012, coach driver, hosts blah blah blah. Thank heavens DT had helped sort out the Facilities Management people and their bleedin risk assessments beforehand.

I was chasing about smiling (full hospitality-mode smile), showing people where the toilets were and telling parents to stop their children sticking their fingers in to electrical sockets (I kid you not - Risk Assessment - let's speak no more about it).

Once the Torchbearers had been installed on their busses (picture 2) I hurried outside to catch a glimpse of my friend Solie who was carrying the Torch! (I'd previously unsuccessfully tried to pin up her tracksuit trousers and made them too short). Little did I know that within a couple of miles of leaving Stoke Mandeville the Relay was about an hour behind. Darn it.

I did however help some spectators who were trying to find the best place to watch their friend run. They were all from a retirement home for the deaf - It was signing galore! Check me out! That's only the second time outside the classroom that I have ever used it. To be fair the conversation only covered my job, where I live, and the weather - as that's more or less all I can do (no need to discuss food or the layout of my house - that would have just been weird!)

An hour later Solie was dropped with the rest of her team at the roadside exactly where I was - phew insider knowledge pays off!) and she and the team were mobbed. Including the media team - which was amazeballs for Solie as she then went on to appear on the screen in the stadium and on the tv during the Paralympic Torch Relay montage that was shown.

I then hot footed it back to my hotel to meet some Torchbearers who we were looking after as they had Relay slots in Watford between 2-3am - so we needed to look after them.

I managed to then get them and their entourage on to our coach to travel to Watford.

Of course I took the opportunity to sit on the little pull down seat thingumybob at the front of said coach so I can have full mic action going on. I do like the sound of my own voice.

On the coach i had 7 uniformed Torchbearers and about 20 friends and family. Dropped off the TB's at their collection point - Sainsburys, Cow Lane, Watford. And hurrah hurrah familiar faces in the shapes of DT and Kathryn off of Torch Operations team. Not so reassuring was being told that the Relay hadn't made any time up from Aylesbury and it was now 70 minutes late.

Dilemma. Should I risk the friends and family missing their loved ones carrying the Flame, by leaving them in the coach or should I thrust ahead and drop them off an appropriate places along the Relay route.

Ended up somewhere in the middle decision wise - left it half and hour and then dropped off the fans on the route and brought Harry (my coach driver) and the coach back to Sainsburys car park - well I didnt know the area so suggesting parking a freaking massive coach at 2am in a strange place felt at best questionable and worst completely foolhardy.....

Oh dear - emails follow on my blackberry the Relay is now 2 hours behind schedule. And I have dropped people off in a strange town. By themselves. At 2AM. Well I suppose I'm paid to make decisions.....la la laaa.

Finally 2 hours late the Flame arrives (picture 3) takes a break - and I run in to the other Torchies from the team who are all buoyant and bubbly - so there I am dishing out the chocolate (for energy). And no sooner do they arrive than they head off again as part of the Relay convoy.

I give them half an hour to get ahead and I get the coach to follow the Relay route - so we can pick up the previous roadside deposit-ees after their loved one has passed them by. Hilariously (in my world) my coach slotted itself in to the traffic after the last official police vehicle - so I'm like part of an unofficial convoy. Picture 4.

First collection - everyone is as good as gold. They are all assembled nicely in the right place.

Second collection - Oh. My. Christ. Someone is missing. My phone battery is nearly dead - but I need to find them. No reply (hope I didn't dial a wrong number at 4.40AM). Tried again. No reply. Called his wife - the Torchbearer - she answered and said he'd moved to a different place so he could video her running. Which is lovely - but I was frankly shitting it. Dawn almost breaking and I've lost someone and have to get a coachful of people back to their hotel. As I hung up I could have wept with joy as I saw him coming over the brow of the hill....

Once he was on board it was back to collect the Torchbearers (Sainsbury's car park again. Also for info dear reader that Sainsbury isnt 24 hour - rubbish). Quick interview and photo for a couple of them (no love, I don't care you've been hanging around, and you're cold - I need to think of my day job too! Caroline would have my guts for garters) and everyone back to the hotel.

We pulled in at 605am. And this is where I nearly cried. Previously in 'coach mic action' we'd been talking about how lucky I am to have a job like I do - which is right - I am lucky. So I did my final thank you before they all went to bed; thanks for being our Torchbearers; and the reason I am lucky to have a job like I do is because I get to meet brilliant inspirational people like them. It was at that point my voice went a bit wobbly and a couple of them were tearing up....so it was time to get brusque and get them off the coach and to bed.

I then went to my room to file my report for later that morning. Typical. Bleedin connection was beyond slow. Finally I got what I needed too off to Caroline, and then went for breakfast (having not eaten since 1130 the previous day) and back to bed for a couple of hours before checking out at 11am.

The return to London was thankfully uneventful. And I finally walked back in to my hotel at 2.15pm. Some 31 hours after I had left it previously.


Alarm was meant to be set for 6pm so I could then get to the office to watch the Opening Ceremony (dependant on whether the Torch had made up its time!!) - however next thing I knew it was 8.05pm and the OC had already started!

Leapt out of bed. Turned on TV, ordered room service, and watched the Opening Ceremony in my hotel room. Alone.

It was however amazing. I loved every second. Two points of crying; when ParalympicsGB came in to Heroes by David Bowie (now downloaded to ipod); and when our very own Solie appeared in the tv montage of the Paralyampic Torch Relay.

Bed at 1.30AM.

It was an amazing, tiring, inspirational, funny, emotional couple of days - but I wouldnt have it any other way.

Right I need to slip in to something more comfortable for tonights jaunt to our local Chinese. It was lush the other night. And I'll catch up on what happened today, tomorrow......