Amy Fox

Writer. Editor. Bad at blogging.


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Amy goes to the Olympics: Part two

Where we left off: I missed my alarm, got on a tube, and saw a game of handball. It’s probably easiest if you just read part one.

11.08am Just watching people act so energetic had worn me out completely, so I go to buy more coffee in the break between games. Unfortunately, so does everybody else, and there is only one coffee machine, desperately trying to feed our caffeine addictions. This is probably the worst-planned part of the entire day.

11.49am At half time of the second game, Brazil are beating Angola, but it is extremely close once again. I have decided by this point that my favourite thing about watching live handball is the song selection. This was one of the great things about the Opening Ceremony, and apparently a theme across London 2012. They play the line “These girls fall like dominoes” whenever more than one person falls over at once; “I get knocked down but I get up again” when the dominoes stand up and continue to play; “under pressure” for the penalty shots; “we will rock you” seemingly for just anything else.

Pretty sure this is not what the Big Pink had in mind.

12.07pm My stepmum leans across and tells us that she has just realised that the Olympic logo makes the numbers “2012” out of shapes, which is basically why we all love her.

12.47pm Brazil win, but only just. In a typically British fashion, the crowds had adopted Angola as the underdogs about halfway through, and cheered them almost to victory, so that in the end Brazil only won by three goals. This time it was well over a goal a minute.

1.08pm After leaving the Copper Box, we go to World Square and get food. The Thai green curry is pretty good.

1.41pm So is the orbit.

It’s so GIANT.

1.53pm As another example of just how bizarre the experience could be, at this point the speakers – currently playing my beloved and completely mental Nicki Minaj – are drowned out by one of the volunteers busking. I don’t know if it is her break, or if she has been hired specifically to add more of a street feel, but she is singing a song of which the only lyrics are: “Kids are gonna get their feet wet. You’ll be fine, you’ll be dandy” over and over again.

2.05pm I’m not saying it is related to the singing, which was quite good considering it made absolutely no sense, but then there is a downpour and even our umbrellas are not enough to save us.

2.10pm My stepmum and I hide in the ladies toilets, which could have been a lot worse. I mean, they are in a temporary building which is basically a shack, but we’ve all been to festival toilets, so I can’t really complain.

2.34pm We watch Ben Ainslie win GB a gold in sailing on the large screens at “Park Live”. Park Live is basically two giant screens back to back, surrounded by grassy hills so that as many visitors to the park as possible can watch all the sports they don’t have tickets to. This would be weird later, when we watch the cycling with the velodrome in sight.

2.45pm What is more important? Inherent suspicion of almost all displays of nationalistic pride, or free face stickers?

I mean, which did you think it was going to be?

2.59pm  Once we’ve walked around the park a few times, we start running out of things to do. There’s only so long that you can look at cool buildings while knowing that cool things are happening inside that you can’t see. So we finally give in and look around the merchandise shop.

It’s weird.

3.04pm Other attractions include a weird BP-branded building which is set up like another attraction. I don’t know what is in there, but people are queuing for it. I can only assume it is some kind of building full of PR stunts desperately hoping to distract from the fact that they caused one of the biggest environmental disasters in living memory.

We do not go inside.

3.12pm Far more exciting is seeing the Olympic village from a distance. They have all hung their country’s flag from the windows! It looks so fun!

3.30pm ICE CREAM.

3.56pm As if ice cream isn’t enough, the next volunteer busker we see is doing an acoustic Call Me Maybe, which is naturally a highlight of the day.

4.15pm We camp out at Park Live long enough to see Murray win the tennis, and a bunch of cycling. There are a lot of people sitting on the grass doing the same thing. So many that every time you move position slightly you end up in someone’s way and there is a chorus of tutting. And every time someone moves position in front of you and obscures the only part of Murray’s forehead you can see anyway, you become that chorus.

Incredible views at the Park Live experience.

5.56pm We have a train to catch, and we’ve been up and walking around since 7(ish) so we decide to head home.

6.06pm Walking through the gates, there are hundreds of signs saying “Take the fastest route to the City Centre: West Ham!” We begin to follow the signs for West Ham.

6.20pm A sign tells us there is still a 20 minute walk until we reach West Ham. I am reasonably sure that it is only the “fastest route” because you walk half the distance first.

6.40pm We finally get on the tube. I cry inside. Olympic athlete I am not.

9.45pm There are a lot of boring train things, including me reading Oscar Wilde because I’m pretentious, but the most important thing is that we are back in time for Bolt’s race, with five minutes to spare.

9.50pm BOLT!

10.15pm There is a Doctor who trailer on the BBC. I freak out.

10.25pm I watch about a bazillion episodes of Parks and Recrecreation before falling asleep. I only have one series to go. I will probably finish by the end of the week. I need to go back to Uni soon.

It is just the best you guys.

Photos by Geoff Adams. Other that one of Parks and Rec, which is by THE INTERNET.


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Amy goes to the Olympics: Part one

So I recently went to the Olympics to watch handball! And, dutiful blogger that I am, I recorded what time things happened so that I could produce a day-in-the-life and get it online the next day. Four days later, and it’s finally here. It’s sort of like that time I liveblogged all of the Lord of the Rings films for you, but with fewer innuendoes.

Man, maybe I should start again.

7am Waking up in the morning. Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs. Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal.

Well now that song is in your head, what actually happened was that my father knocked merrily on our hotel door and said “Are you ready to go to breakfast?” and I stumbled out of bed, opened the door, squinted at my well-dressed and shiny looking parents through a haze of sleep and unbrushed hair, and said “I do not think that my alarm went off when it said it would.” But not quite as coherently.

7.20am I arrive in the breakfast area just as the rest of my family are finishing up. The toast is cold, and the filter coffee has been out for some time, so I have to balance the time of the morning against the fact that the coffee is really kind of gross. Time of the morning wins, so I just triple the amounts of sugar.

7.45am We arrive at Ilford station. Considering the transport panic (“Don’t travel in London! There’ll be so many people travelling in London! Are you thinking of going to London? THAT’S A TERRIBLE IDEA”) there aren’t that many people around.

7.55am The train arrives. I could have had 10 minutes more sleep.

8.13am Getting off at Stratford is fine, and as we approach the park everyone is incredibly friendly. All the volunteers welcome the crowds as they walk past, and one lady had a megaphone and was telling everybody that it was a beautiful day, we should all smile, we should get our tickets ready, we wouldn’t be allowed inside without tickets or a smile. It sounds annoying. It was actually quite cute.

This is my brother Jack and I. We are channelling the Olympic spirit of jazz hands.

9am After walking through the park, which is pretty impressive, we eventually reach the venue for the handball. It is called the Copper Box. It basically looks like a giant box made of copper.

9.16am To warm up the crowds, the host (who was wearing a flatcap and shorts, despite being over eight years old, and not a Victorian orphan) gets people dancing on the big screens if they were being individual enough. My brother and I make damn sure we appear on that screen, while my stepmum conveniently chooses that moment to investigate the loos.

It is probably the closest I will ever get to being on TV.

Although looking at it again, there’s nothing about this outfit that isn’t perfect.

9.30am Worn out from all that positive energy and cheesy dancing, the handball game actually starts. I should point out here that I had absolutely no idea what handball was, or how you played. It turns out that the ball is not actually made of the hands of the losers, or even zombies, both of which had been previously suggested. Instead, the female Swedish team come bounding in and high-five the Republic of Korea, and then they all start running up and down to get warmed up. There are so many ponytails. They have so much energy. It is all so wholesome. I am exhausted just watching.

11am Eventually I managed to get a good idea of how game worked. Basically the aim was to throw the ball into the goal, except you could only hold it for a certain amount of seconds, and run for a certain number of steps. If you broke those rules, you had to give up the ball and everyone would run to the other end of the court/pitch/arena/prison. Eventually Korea won, but it was very close, and there ended up being 60 goals in total, making it far, far more interesting to watch than football.

And it’s okay, because apparently the Swedish handball team were spotted that night helping Usain Bolt to celebrate his 100m gold medal. So I’m sure they were fine.

Just like football, but with your hands. And better.

Photos by Geoff Adams.


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Sport completely baffles me: 7 reasons why I love the Olympics

Now, I’m not about to say that the Olympics have been without fault. I mean, there was the virtual ignoring of the critical mass arrests, any kind of nationalism will always make me a little uncomfortable, and all the problems people had with corporate interference don’t go away just because athletes started winning medals.

But, considering my inherent lack of interest in any kind of sport (PE was basically an excuse to talk about last night’s TV while “in defence”), I have always loved the Olympics. And since I’ve also always loved London, this year just brings those things together into one big party. It’s sort of like that time I found out Starkid’s Darren Criss would play Kurt’s love interest in Glee, before it got crap. Two totally unrelated but awesome things suddenly fused into one.

Here are seven reasons why, even though sport confuses and frightens me, I am still constantly glued to the Olympics.

1. It is full, in the words of Aidan Burley, of “leftie multicultural crap”. Countries coming together under one flag, (almost) everyone being sporting, that fantastic opening ceremony which was like a socialist wet dream. Free healthcare! Free internet! Free Kenneth Brannagh in a hat!

“Mitt Romney, this is for you.”

2. Not knowing a thing about sport means that everything seems amazing. People diving in perfect synchronicity? Doing somersaults on the uneven bars? Understanding the rules of judo? I don’t know how any of them do any of it.

I would give a medal purely for not falling and dying.

3. It is not the traditional, but the weird obscure sports that everyone gets excited about. No one could care less about the football, but canoeing? That got up to 4.5m viewers yesterday, with cycling up to 8.1m. That is some nail-biting stuff.

Look at them go! There are waves everywhere!

4. Social media goes crazy. Everyone is in a good mood, and there are so many opportunities for hilarity if not much is happening with all the sport. Anything which can lead to this cannot be a bad thing.

There’s just no reason not to bring it up again.

5. The opportunity to play a once-in-a-lifetime drinking game, during which you drink every time someone says “once-in-a-lifetime”. Played during the opening ceremony with some success.

Apparently this actually did happen and wasn’t just in my mind.

6. You can make a tonne of Hunger Games references. I mean, come on, it’s happening in the capital and “the Games” are all anybody talks about. All they need is for Katniss to say something inappropriate, a camouflage event for Peeta, a few children murdering each other, and it will be perfect.

I just knew this would exist somewhere.

7. It’s all about storytelling. The Olympics coverage from the BBC is really good at presenting the athletes as individuals, and they all have families, sacrifices, rivalries, dreams – and you actually care whether they achieve them or not. I have never had any interest in judo before, but when Gemma Gibbons won her semi-final I actually teared up a bit. At SPORT. This coming from someone who didn’t even cry at Toy Story 3, and has been branded “soulless” ever since. And if that doesn’t prove something, I don’t know what does.

I dunno. It just got to me.