On the 19th June the Olympic torch made its way through the streets of York.
A few writers in the area were asked by the City of York Council to tweet poetry in order to make a poem, or collection of poems, to appear in the York800 anthology (published by Stairwell Books).
I found myself a nice little spot on Coney Street, opposite the Spurriergate Centre, where I had free WiFi access and was able to soak up the atmosphere and tweet my thoughts and observations of the event.
It started off fairly quiet. I was nearly an hour early! I grabbed a coffee and a sneaky bit of carrot cake and joined the few others who had started to line the street. There were lots of people expecting the torch to be making an appearance fairly soon, but of course it wasn’t scheduled to pass us until 6.08pm.
The masses soon began to gather and the police seemed to have a more obvious role at this point. A few people hurrying home from work didn’t seem to understand they couldn’t cycle down the road or cross over with gay abandon. Shouts and manhandling occurred on at least three occasions. Ooooo the excitement!
When the coaches and the cars passed (no free bottle of coke for me sadly!) people cheered and started to lean forward in anticipation. I was surrounded by urgency and arms. Elbows digged into my ribs and hands holding cameras hovered over my shoulder at regular intervals.
Then there was another lull. Children shuffled and literally ran circles round their mums. Dads fiddled with lenses and video recorders. Old folk waved their flags to entice the runner round the corner for a desperate glimpse of the gold.
The police signaled this was it. It was coming.
A huge coach rounded the corner and just as I was setting up the camera on my phone the runner flashed past, way too close to the coach to catch a proper looksie.
I literally blinked and missed it!!
Still, the view from the back served, and I am glad I got chance to be there.
I am not overly bothered about the Olympics really, even though I have taken up running, it’s all a lot of nonsense if you ask me. I was hugely disappointed to find out that the torch isn’t even the same all the way through. That the runner gets to keep each torch they hold…and flog it on ebay if they so wish!
Shame. I kinda liked the idea that it was the same torch…the same flame burning. It seemed romantic and symbolic somehow.
It was something I can say I saw, something I was a part of. Trying to come up with some poetry was fun too.
You will be able to catch my words, and the words of others, in the York800 anthology*.
*More details will be available once the publication is finished.