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Olympics in the Air

The Olympics is slowly starting to infiltrate my life. Traveling to and from work now, I pass lanes of traffic readied for Olympian visitors, I pass cones and checkpoints, and I pass the temporary huts and bus stops of the impending Media Village in Russell Square.

Olympics volunteers have begun to appear as well, milling about brimming with potential helpfulness in bright yellow vests and pink-and-purple uniforms. There is a definite buzz in the air.

At the same time, there’s construction at the back of the British Museum. Some weeks ago wooden hoardings began to go up around the back walls, enveloping the steep drop where the sign usually warns visitors not to sit. Most importantly, these thoughtless hoardings are covering my beloved lions. I love walking past the lions every morning and evening, bidding their serene stone greetings. Now in the last months of my tenancy in Fitzrovia (for alas I am being compelled to up sticks and find a new dwelling soon) I’m denied their stoic presences as I go about my day.

I don’t think the construction is related to the Olympics (it’s been going on for quite some time) but I am surprised that they decided to do this part of it, covering up the back of the museum, right in the throes of the influx of all this traffic to London. The media hub is literally around the corner from the British Museum’s north entrance; is it not unfortunate that instead of the gracious back of the museum, what they will catch glimpses of is the anonymous border of a construction site?

But, lions aside, the rest of London has certainly been spiffed up, shined up, and polished for the impending arrival of visitors from all around the world. There are cheery banners everywhere proclaiming ‘London 2012’ in those logos that everybody’s been so snide about. Streets have been swept, lampposts freshly painted, signage updated. And for all of us who haven’t gotten Olympics tickets, there is certainly a lot going on this year: the Jubilee has just left us in its dazzlingly rainy wake, and all around the capital there are concerts, plays, dances, special sporting events, artworks… I don’t know about the rest of you, but it feels to me like London is a flower thrumming with life, ready to spring open like an evening primrose.

This will be a year that gets remembered.

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