London Olympic conversation number one, in a taxi. “Going to the Games?” I ask the cabbie. “No mate… I’ve got no tickets,” he said sadly. Did you apply for any tickets? “No, I didn’t”
“You know something? I think there’s a connection here,” I said.
Two weeks ago – after a lifetime spent totally dedicated to the single-minded pursuit of hating sports of any kind – I decided to change my viewpoint and become the most enthusiastic fan in the country of the London Olympics.
So, ever since the Opening Ceremony, I have been an Ambassador for the Games. Over those past 14 days I must have welcomed thousands of people to London – whether they wanted to be welcomed or not.
Who made me an Ambassador? Me. That’s who
“Have a great Games!” I shout to total strangers.
“Who appointed you as an Ambassador?” I can you hear you ask. Me … that’s who! I’m self-appointed. Got a problem with that?
I’d read there are 70,000 volunteers at the Games so I decided to make it 70,0001. OK?
My inspirational story of how I stopped hating sport and learnt to love it (soon to be a major movie at a cinema near you – starring either Brad Pitt or Woody Allen) all began last April when, huddled over my computer in my pyjamas at the stroke of midnight, I clicked on for the first of what would become a new world record of over 2.5 million visits to the Olympics tickets site.
I was determined to go to as many events as humanly possible, no matter what the cost to my body or self-sacrifice involved. From that day on, I trained day and night, clicking on the site thousands of times a day. Three am? Four? It didn’t matter to me. I wore out 33 keyboards and suffered multiple niggling thumb injuries but it has all been worth it. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my parents and family.
I had ticket alerts coming in 24 hours a day and, by a combination of single-mindedness, determination, persistence, enthusiasm and more than a dash of ruthless ambition and chutzpah, I achieved my goal.
I’ve attended everything that’s moved… including the Opening Ceremony for the Olympic car park. I wasn’t going to miss anything. Seb and Boris haven’t been able to turn around without bumping into me. The Queen parachuted into the seat next to mine. I told her it was taken. “But I’m the Queen,” she said. “OK you can sit there,” I said.
London Olympic conversation number two. Monday August 6, Oxford Circus. “Welcome to London!” I said to a man in an Olympic t-shirt carrying a Jamaican flag! “I’m from Hackney,” he said.
Last weekend, I was on my way by scooter to the beach volleyball and I had one spare ticket.
Stopping at the traffic lights, I shouted to the driver next to me: “Would you like to come to the beach volleyball? I’ve got a spare ticket.”
“I’d love to!” he said, “but I can’t.”
Why not? I asked.
“I’m working,” he said. “What do you do ?”I asked
“I’m a bus driver,” he said. “So?” I asked.
“I’m driving this bus.”