What a great year 2012 turned out to be. No doubt the highlight-The Olympics and Paralympics which as Londonmanstan had always maintained was going to be brilliant. The Olympic Park will be remembered as being not only a site of great beauty and innovation but beyond the stadia , the gardens of wild flowers, Amish Kapoor’s orbit and a near perfect transport system was one of the world’s great construction infrastructure projects. And then there were the people-the vast crowds, the athletes, the creative genius of Robby Boyle, the determined leadership of Seb Coe and the 70,000 Games Makers who all had the greatest of times and put a permanent and infectious smile on everyone who stepped foot in the world’s greatest City.
Londonmanstan had its moments. On the first Sunday I stood in Tavistock Square waiting for eager tourists to join me and a few friends and family to walk Bloomsbury. My wife and daughters helped me scatter London Personally leaflets and chat up Concierge’s in more than 40 London hotels but as these wise old (and young) birds kept telling us…. “no one will come -everyone in our Hotel is press/has tickets for Excel to see the Boxing or Horse Guards to see the Beach Volleyball.” The same message was repeated like a mantra and it turned out to be spot on. No one showed. Zilch. Not one person. Instead the five of us wandered around only to be rewarded with something very special and something quite unique.
As rain clouds gathered we found ourselves outside the neo-classical structure of the Wilkins Building, that grand entrance to University College, London’s oldest university. A student waved at us to visit an art exhibition and it turned out to be the “Art of the Olympians” Inside a unique exhibition of photographs/ paintings and a few sculptures all created by some of the planets most talented human beings in quite another sphere-sport. Every artist is or was an Olympian. And there on a couch a tall black man in an immaculate suit, a chocolate brown dotted bow tie and shoes so shiny they lit up the room just by themselves.
One of the women at the entrance said to me, ‘you know Bob Beamon?’ looking towards this tall elegant man. My heart rate doubled as I had the opportunity to meet and talk with the Usain Bolt of the 1968 Mexico Olympics and charming he was too. For those younger readers Bob Beamon performed a miracle feat by jumping 8m 90cms in the long jump- a record that stood till 1991 and apart from that jump by Michael Powell no one ever has jumped further than Bob Beamon. To put it into context Greg Rutherford won gold for Team GB with a jump of 8m 32cms. Bob Beamon turned out to be charming and graceful He spoke to some young boys who had performed an Olympic inspired dance as elegantly as he dressed.
2012 saw the launch of our family walking company London Personally. After some tester walks for Metro Bank around Holborn, for Argent around Kings Cross and for Israeli charity Meir Panim around the Olympic Park and Bow London Personally successfully undertook a birthday walk around Clerkenwell and an “orientation” walk again around Holborn when accountants BRAL, part of Blick Rothenberg, moved from Marylebone to Holborn.
Our MEWS walking season began with cancellations as the weather caused one cancellation after another as London and the south east suffered its wettest year on record. Still there were some notable walks- The walk around the Ashridge Estate and Little Gaddesden, an all day walk in beautiful Constable country and a lovely walk in and around Thaxted in deepest Essex. Then to end the season; an all day Dickens walk when Londonmanstan donned a frock coat and top hat and celebrated Charles Dickens’ 200th anniversary of his birth following the novelists life in Somers Town, Bloomsbury and Covent garden and his extraordinary observations on the City and its characters. In all more than 50 people came on the Dickens walk on a crystal clear winters day.
And finally Londonmanstan managed a couple of lunchtime walks from Lynton House exploring Bloomsbury Holborn and Kings Cross. So despite the weather and the pressures of time a fair bit of walking in 2012. On to 2013…