Gabby’s Word 2 August 2012
We are a quarter of the way through the London Olympics and so far, so good. The predicted bomb scares haven’t occurred, the UK capital is still moving and, ‘touch wood’, I haven’t heard of anyone being pick-pocketed by the Artful Dodger and his team of youthful thieves.
As a South-East Londoner, I have found the Royal family’s descent into Greenwich rather amusing. The idea of Prince Philip's car sitting at the Deptford traffic lights has amused me and I can only imagine Princess Anne’s expression whilst watching our local drunks serenade passersby. I’ve proudly watched as my beautiful city has displayed itself at its best and have been astounded to view my local park, Greenwich, transformed into the equestrian site for 2012. With a full heart, I watched the picture-perfect views of London’s oldest park proudly broadcast to the rest of the world. At LBB HQ, it’s been as hectic as ever, but with the intermittent team bonding exercise of screaming and cheering whilst we watch Team GB’s efforts.
Outside of the UK, what has been the general consensus to the games been? Well, if you’re American, it truly is an ‘exciting time’ and as the greatest Olympian of all time, I’m thinking Micheal Phelps could easily make a fortune selling his genes at a local sperm bank. China is having a fantastic time too and who didn’t applaud loudly for the ‘gold’en fish, Ruta Meilntyte who made history winning Lithuania’s first medal since gaining independence.
Depressingly and sadly, I can’t help but think of the rest of Europe who are still sitting in a euro nightmare whilst the UK spends an estimated £11billon hosting this year’s games. Last week, I watched the opening ceremony in a bar in Kefalonia, Greece. To say that the locals looked moderately unimpressed would have been an understatement. In fact, in the two weeks that we spent in the Ionian Islands, there was no avoiding the difficult financial situation they’re facing. Where the UK might be relishing not only the Olympics, but also our Jubilee year, the people of Greece work through the busy summer with the threat of bankruptcy in September.
I first flew to Greece at four months of age and the country has a special place in my family’s heart. In fact, currently the youngest Mr Lott is working and living out there. Greece hasn’t changed… the food is still mouthwatering, the people are still warm and friendly and it is still breathtakingly beautiful, but where once the port of Fiscardo was bursting to the seams, Corfu’s Mitsos Taverna served a full house each and every mealtime and the town of Vassiliki saturated by windsurfers, overall, the numbers of visitors to Greece has dropped and everywhere seems to be half full... It’s not empty, but it’s not packed.
So how are the Greeks handling it? In my humble and rather uneducated viewpoint, rather well, considering. The summer months are the busiest for Greece and most people during this time work a seven-day week. As such, the end of the year, for many within the holiday locations is a time for respite and for some, adventure. Not surprisingly, the instability of the country’s economics is taking its toll and after an exhausting summer season, they face a bleak winter.
In May 2012, 80 per cent of Greeks wished to stick with the Euro, but recently, conversation has steered towards a return to the Drachma and many of the older generation are freely comparing the current situation to another ‘German invasion’. Time will tell what will happen to this beautiful country. In the meantime, for those of you who haven’t planned your summer trip yet, I strongly suggest a holiday in the deep blue seas of Greece and returning to the Olympics, I have my fingers crossed for Greece’s hopefuls. Call me unpatriotic, but everyone deserves a win.
P.S Many thanks to all the volunteers who are making this year’s Olympic’s run so smoothly. Here I am with Adstream’s Andy Hopkinson, trying to tea leaf his lovely outfit.
P.P.S I can’t help myself… God, love you Boris Johnson
, London’s bumbling Mayor: