I have a hole in my heart. A five-ring whopper. As the cauldron flames sputter and die, attention is inevitably drawn towards a post-mortem of London 2012 '...nice fireworks, but what about the legacy?' An Olympic observer of unassuming pedigree, I've watched the games progress through the boycott-ravaged Cold War ("Come on Alan!"), the pastel-hued showmanship of eighties California (jet packs & synchro-swimmer nose clips). Barcelona's hill-top diving boards with resplendent Gaudi vistas, popping midnight-tinnies for live Sydney 2000 supporting, to the disciplined state spectacle of Beijing's Bird's Nest. Of course this was going to be special. It was in my own backyard, the old neighbourhood in fact - Stratford. From embryonic proposals, via numb-fingered, muddy winter construction, the Olympic Park rose into sharp relief from the industrial east. The traditional residential district for London's former docks - and it still surprises me - re-imagined as a nexus for sporting excellence.
You know how it goes? You have an idea and hours before you're due to publish it, on the very same day, the body of people who the proposal is aimed at, release their own new plan which bears a striking resemblance to the one being honed. Friends, they call me 'Lucky'.
However since both parties hold similar views; publish and be damned. The social media elements discussed in the proposal below and the inclusion of 'pop-up curation' of social media channels, could greatly benefit the London Live sites, draw audiences from further affield and manage traffic flows. It would also offer an opportunity for London to display its international mobile credentials. So consider the following to be 'enhancements', or 'extensions' around a theme, rather than a full-blown 'idea' (that train has sailed).
Olympics - No Ticket Required
There is a murmur and a rumbling among members of the British public, that the upcoming Olympics is just beyond the reach of 'ordinary people'. That corporations have rolled in, taken the best seats and tossed a pair of weightlifting tickets in the direction of middle-England (no disrespect to weightlifting). Not a general consensus, more an aroma that lingers around social networks and often fails to seep through to those pulling the levers. However, the British public's cynicism is always over-estimated, especially where sporting events and 'putting on a show' are concerned. Everyone in London and the UK knows there'll be no empty venues at London 2012 and that a late surge of participation will undoubtedly manifest itself. This shouldn't surprise authorities, in the same way that types of snow or falling leaves manage to.
Everyone who follows football in the UK is a form amateur strategist, or couch-football-manager, and as such could run the Olympics more fairly than the experts selected; but that's not the purpose of this article. The purpose is to highlight one issue which commonly occurs at global sporting events, and to offer a solution. Recent reports suggest London 'emptying out' for the games and that hotels and B&Bs will suffer drastically lower yields, as regular tourists stay away. Furthermore, workforce absenteeism will thump the economy with a lower blow than the Royal Wedding. It's shaping up to be a disaster, wrapped within a catastrophe, served up with a side-order of... I couldn't agree less.
Residents of this country are infamous for seeking out and soaking up atmosphere. England's unusually strong progress in the 1990 World Cup (tragic we have to wind the clock back that far) led to Italian flights, airports and city-centres being over-run by travelling ticket-free fans in the latter stages of the tournament. The recent performance of Wales in the Rugby World Cup, saw ticketless supporters jetting to New Zealand, just to be 'in touch' with their team. The Olympics is being staged here, in the world's most popular tourist city and reporting that it may be partially full? Well, that's the kind of hubris which courts last-minute disaster.
Wimbledon Village and TownAlthough synonymous with the world’s leading tennis tournament, Wimbledon is first and foremost a place. Situated within the London borough of Merton, it comprises an urban town centre, a village, a large common and a park which is of course the site of the famous All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.
Its history dates back to the Iron Age when the area was constructed on a hill fort, a structure of banks and ditches built into the ground as a form of military defence. Its inhabitants centred around the hill in the middle of the common and it was originally known as “Wimbedounyng”. The land was owned by the church until the late 14th century when it passed to the crown and was subsequently bought and sold to a succession of monarchs and nobility. In the mid 18th century it was owned by the first Earl of Spencer, the 8th Earl being Diana, Princess of Wales’ father. Over time Wimbledon continued to attract wealthy families and a number of architecturally grand houses were built, which still stand today. These include the Jacobean manor, Eagle House, Cannizaro House which now operates as a hotel in the village and Chester House, a private home estimated to be worth around £15 million.
To cater to this growing affluent community, shops began to spring up. The first being the town’s butcher, Phanuel Maybank, in 1670, and was followed by a tailor, bakers and a builder, amongst others. Many of these original shops still stand though they are now populated by the more ‘chi-chi’ Cath Kidston, Bang & Olufsen and Molten Brown! To most locals Wimbledon Village is where ‘town meets country’. Acres of greenery offering outdoor pursuits such as golf, horse-riding and of course tennis, alongside chic restaurants and shops in keeping with stylish London.
As transport links improved and expanded, first with the stagecoach service then a variety of rail services, the population rapidly expanded. This meant more housing and retail which eventually led to the formation of Wimbledon Town Centre located at the foot of the hill away from the village. This is home to Ely’s department store which was established in 1870 and is still going strong today.