It's nice to be understood when you speak
Wow, it’s amazing what five or six hours of sleep will do for a guy.
Feel entirely rejuvenated. And by rejuvenated I mean barely hung over, lucid enough to get this done and alert enough to get through the day.
Feel like a million pence.
There are dozens and dozens of reasons why London was a good choice to host this little shindig but, from our perspective at least, one stood out:
It’s in our own language.
I can’t tell you how much easier it is knowing that if you approach a volunteer or a cop bobby or a soldier you can converse with them easily, figuring out where to go, how to get from Point A to Point B, where things are.
It hit home hugely on Tuesday afternoon when a quartet of us were trying to navigate entry into the beach volleyball venue, a joint that wasn’t really ready to accept visitors but a place we had to get to for the Canadian practice.
We got off the tube about two stops too late, it ends up, so we were on the wrong side of the fenced-off grounds and somehow talked our way through back entrances and closed gates simply because the guards could understand us.
Usually, at least at the last two of these things I’ve been at, any conversation is greeted with polite smiles and blank stares and ends up with me pointing at my credential and the volunteer or soldier pointing aimlessly in some other direction.
Not here. Nope.
We had two young army dudes open a door in a fence they were guarding to let us down some back road, the next soldier was able to answer our questions about where the actual security entrance was and the polite police officers who stopped us every 100 metres or so understood what we were saying when we said it and merrily sent us on our way.
Civilized, I tell you.
And way, way easier.
And when we were hanging out at the beach volleyball and talking about the venue and the Horse Guards Parade with the athletes, Marie-Andree Lesssard kind of hit on her rather cool existence.
“I think we’ve very fortunate on the world tour. I recall in Milan we were playing in front of Il Duomo … in Rome we play in the Olympic Stadium next to these centuries-old statues, In Paris we played on Champs Elysees so we’ve been very, very fortunate.
“You’re grateful when you’re on the court, whether it’s going good or bad, you’re going, ‘Oh, my God, what a great life I have.’”
Wonder if there’s Beach Volleyball Grunt gig out there I could check out?
Not sure if we’ll do one or two or just throw ‘em out as bonus items but may as well solicit what I can.
You know the drill.
Click. Write. Send.
And I’ll probably say this six or seven times as we go along but any and all London suggestions welcome; I’ve got to try to get out more.
So I’m walking from hotel to bus stop the first morning and off the main road there’s this alley, like there is off every road.
And, of course, down the alley are a couple of pubs and going on about 90 minutes plane sleep that’s as far afield as I was about to get.
I can report that Greene King IPA is so-so, the Jeffe is, as always, a nice alternative and if you end the night The Bar Of All Hours, a Cobra or two (originally made in India, now in London) isn’t a bad way to go.
And thus endeth Night One.
This is kind of cool.
Stop by the variety store (or news agent, I guess) to pick up some fresh air and water and the guy looks at the credential and says, “oh, Toronto Star?”
“Nice. I have relatives in Markham, I’ll tell them to read your stuff.”
Small world and now I’ve got an in at a place where you can pick up a loose Stella if you’re so inclined.
One of the table conversations last night got around, as it sometimes does, to music and we’re trying to come up with the list of top songs with London in the title or about London.
This was the overwhelming winner, right?
What else have you got?
I see the Americans drilled Spain last night over in Barcelona and if anyone thinks it means anything, I believe they are sadly mistaken.
If there’s one thing about international basketball that stands out more than anything else, it’s that teams never, ever show their best stuff in meaningless games, and often don’t do everything even in some first-round games.
For Spain and the US, the tournament doesn’t start until the quarter-finals, there’s no way in the world they both don’t advance, and to put any stock in what transpired in a friendly is probably not wise.
We’ll have a full look at the tournament in, I believe, Saturday’s paper but at first blush, you have to figure those two countries are going to meet again. With everything on the line.
This is cool.
Took what’s known as the Javelin train from Stratford station out here at the Olympic Park to St. Pancras station to start the beach volleyball journey yesterday.
It goes about 225 kilometres an hour – about a six, seven minute ride from start to finish – and it’s an impressive way to get in and out of this park area.
From a guy who’s used to the Smelly Ford Focus in QEW traffic, it was a nice change.