With London 2012 less than 100 days away now, there’s a real buzz in the capital. After the Orange Prize shortlist breakfast on Tuesday I hared across east London to spend the day with my student daughter in Greenwich. When we hopped off the Docklands Light Railway train the very first thing we spotted was the newly restored Cutty Sark, which reopens next week after a £50 million transformation. The 143-year-old tea clipper, due to be unveiled by the Queen on April 25, has been lifted 11 feet off the ground and looks utterly breathtaking.
Then we walked through the rain-soaked streets to the Old Naval College and suddenly stumbled on an extraordinary scene. Piled up behind a giant stone elephant was a massive and incongruous mound of old wood, furniture and sundry rubbish. It looked like an art installation by an up and coming Brit Artist but it turned out that we were in the middle of a film set. When I asked a grumpy man in a fluorescent jacket he told me they were filming a scene from Les Miserables the following day.
Next it was on to Greenwich Park, where even more preparations were taking place. Not for a film this time, but for the London 2012 equestrian events. An area of the park, right next to the elegant stone façade of the National Maritime Museum, is being transformed into the arena where the show jumping and dressage events will be staged. Talk about a showstopper of a location. You can see Canary Wharf to the north and the historic Royal Observatory to the south. But then again, the 200 Olympic riders will probably have other things to concentrate on than the stupendous views.
Like thousands of others I applied for countless tickets for London 2012 (I really wanted to take my bike mad son to a cycling event) and got precisely none. So up until this week I felt distinctly underwhelmed about the Olympics. But after spending the day in east London and seeing the amazing transformation taking place, I’ve changed my mind. It’s exciting all right…