Friday, 28 September 2012

Olympic aftermath - Greenwich Park

Back to life without a deadline - at least for the moment - and I walked around Blackheath and Greenwich Park the other day to see how things have changed since the end of the Paralympics.

In The Boy with Two Heads I mentioned the end of the Olympic Games of 432 BC:

"There was still a lot of traffic on the road, but most of it was commercial. The tourists had left by land and sea the minute the Games were over. Tents had disappeared overnight, leaving the riverbanks bare and dusty, except for piles of rotting rubbish and lines of fetid latrines."

In London in 2012, the transformation is going much more slowly and carefully and, as far as I know, there are no fetid latrines to deal with. But there are complex plans for the Olympic Park, which will be called the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. And in Greenwich, the residents will be glad to get back to using their own Park as they used to, much as the excitement and glamour of the Games was appreciated at the time.

During the Games, Blackheath itself was a cross between a fun fair and a cinema.

Now it's just the familiar old Heath.

While the Games were on, there was a huge footbridge over the A2 main road. It was the route for pedestrians from Blackheath to Greenwich Park. In normal times getting from one to the other is merely a matter of crossing at the pedestrian lights and walking through the main gate of the Park.

But for the Games, the Bridge was the southern entrance to Greenwich Park and the way in for the Equestrian Arena. The gates at each end of the Bridge were closed unless there was an event. The view from the top was impressive, especially as it was from a place that is normally in mid-air.

Now the bridge has almost all been dismantled.

And in the Park itself, the Equestrian Arena is being taken apart, girder by girder.

It will probably be Christmas before that area gets back to something like it was.

There is still a long blue fence beside the flower garden and other fences preventing cars from using the main road through the Park.

But the Observatory is open again ...

... and there are various workers going about their business.

But, as in The Boy, most of the 2012 athletes and spectators left almost immediately the Games were over, if not before. In Ancient Greece, Olympia was basically a religious centre that was visited by a constant stream of tourists and suppliants. It seems that the local people wanted to get back to that business as soon as they could. And of course, they were well-practised in cleaning up after the Games. They had to do it every four years.

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