Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The London Eye looks on ...

Part of the view from my seat in the Horse Guards Parade arena
We spent a happy morning yesterday, watching four beach volleyball matches in the rare sunshine. As you can see, the view was spectacular. I doubt there'll be another chance to see it from that angle ever again, as the arena is temporary, and will be dismantled after the Games. 

Beach volleyball never seemed very competitive to me. When I lived in Greece, we spent many happy times on sandy beaches bashing a ball backwards and forwards over a net, rarely forcing our opponents to dive for a save. But it is taken very seriously and is extremely athletic when it is an Olympic sport. The snatches of surfing music that burst out between points, and the exhorting of the crowd to clap and shout Ole! and do Mexican waves, all seem to uphold my original opinion, but the effort and skill of the players cannot be denied.

Photo of the big screen showing a dramatic save
It also occurred to me that this was probably the only sport in the modern Olympics carried out in almost the same physical conditions as boxing and wrestling in the Ancient Olympic Games - a precisely measured rectangle of soft sand under the (blazing?) sun.

However, the umpire does not hold a whip and everyone wears some kind of clothes. Strange that for the women these cover so much less of their bodies than for the men ...

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic Games, here I come!

Today I'm travelling down to London for the Olympics. I'm going by car, not by ship, like Themis in The Boy with Two Heads. And it will only take six hours, not six days. 

We have tickets for three events: beach volleyball on Monday ("the hottest tickets in town"), athletics on Friday evening, and trampoline on Saturday (these must be warm tickets, at least!). We decided against boxing, in spite of its relevance to my story. The weather looks dryer there ...

Horse Guards beach volleyball venue

Since I last blogged, Connie has overcome the technical difficulties and up-loaded the e-book of The Boy with Two Heads to Amazon. She decided the price would be £3.99, with a 'free day' sometime soon, when readers will be able to download it for free. I'll blog the date when I know.

Meanwhile, I've been writing the first draft of a new reader manuscript, probably for Cambridge. 

Which is why I haven't been focussed much on my Boy! But he's been selling gently all along, and I did take two days off to go down to London two weeks ago to go round the bookshops near the Olympic Park and in Central London to raise awareness of him. I wore my promotional T-shirt. I hope to have more to say about that when I've had a chance to see if there have been any results. Waterstones' website says he is available to order. Blackwell says he is 'not in stock - our special ordering service will try to obtain this title for you'. At least, they've stopped saying he's only available from the USA!

So now I'm all set to enjoy the Games. We watched the Opening Ceremony on TV last night. The papers are saying it was "a Triumph". Thank you, to Danny Boyle and all the thousands who took part!  It was fascinating to be reminded of the variety of human cultures and styles as the athletes paraded into the stadium. My favourite moment (from among many funny and touching and enthralling ones) was when those 204 copper petals rose up and became a burning flower. The London 2012 'cauldron' was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, truly thinking outside the box. No bowls on sticks for him. Wow!