|Dusk at the Olympic Park - London2012|
Last night my Dad said something profound:
“I’ve seen the future…”
At first I wasn’t exactly sure what he was on about. He is old after all say my boys. I suppose to them, at the tender ages of six and nine, at 70 years he is old, although I don’t really see him that way at all.
He’s just my Dad - sometimes kind, sometimes hard, sometimes laughing, sometimes cross and irascible. Opinionated, definitely opinionated and like most of those in a generation older than ourselves prone to saying things like: “It wasn’t like that in my day” or “When I was young we would never have been allowed to get away with that” or that old hoary chestnut: “I worry about the future for you lot, I thought we had problems but I certainly don’t like the look of some of yours that are coming down the track.”
So when he said he’s seen the future I was worried. He hasn’t been to London in over 20 years and usually says things like: “London is best viewed from 10 thousand feet flying en route to somewhere else”.
He lives in North Yorkshire, he’s happily retired with his dogs and his tennis and his shooting, his garden and a fishing rod for when he needs some quiet time.
However, for the past five days my Dad embraced the Olympic spirit and has hurtled about London like the proverbial blue-arsed fly chasing after Olympic events as if he was in the finals of some 400m sprint himself. He’s been to the North Greenwich Arena to see the Gymnastics; he’s been to Lords to see the Archery, Wembley to see the Football, Excel for Fencing and Weightlifting and Earls Court for Volley Ball and he’s wandered in a happy daze around the Olympic Park itself.
And while he has been hurtling about he has made sure than everyone in the family has been able to join him if they want and all because no one invited him to the Olympics when he was six back in 1948. He says he was determined all his children and grandchildren should get the opportunity to experience London2012.
“For it’s unlikely to come round again in mine or your let alone their lifetimes!”
It has been brilliant but the best thing, the most brilliant thing has been his epiphany about the future.
The future for his children and more importantly the future of his grandchildren. He worries about things like that.
His biggest concern is our cultural heritage and the pressures he feels that is under with the seemingly huge influx of immigrants to the UK that he has witnessed in his lifetime. He has served his country in the Army and was privileged enough to be posted all over the world. He feels he is in a position to be concerned.
And if we read the papers and hear of the racist violence and segregation of communities, tales of greed and avarice I think he has every right to worry and to say so.
But he has had an epiphany.
It happened on a DLR to ExCel on Monday to see the Women’s Weightlifting. At Poplar I think, or it might have been Canning Town, a group of laughing giggling over excited school children scrambled on board and sat opposite.
It was like electricity dancing about; those children couldn’t have kept still or quiet in a month of Sundays and actually such was the party atmosphere no one wanted them to. My father couldn’t help but stare.
Right then and there he saw the future.
Three little girls and two little boys not much older than his eldest grandson.
You could not have posed a photograph more inclusive of race or religion the whole nation was encapsulated in that little bevy of brightness, that spot of light covered in union jack ribbons and bows and face paint and T-shirts and heaven else only knew what. Utterly British to the core. It was beautiful and I said so as I sat next to him and he was silent.
I hadn’t realised how much the sight had affected him, how profound the meeting was between him and the future.
But he hasn’t stopped telling everyone since.
He’s evangelical about it.
“They were totally colour-blind, it didn’t matter a toss to them at all about religion or anything.”
It was a totally British thing and he says if he hadn’t come to London2012 he would never have known; come to that nor would I.