Tag Archives: 2012

The Serbian Shot Putter

I am not invited to the party. The roads are closed. Many of us are leaving town.

2000 soldiers guard a great crystal bowl turned upside down. I press my nose against the glass and fog my view. Visitors to the city, my city, politely squeeze past and enter the party bowl. I am invited to watch on tv or for £15 a big screen in a park.

We are the old women outside the church watching some unknown bride.

Optimism once reigned supreme. Seven years on when the preparations became part of each day’s conversation have been building in crescendo towards this moment. MacDonalds and Cocla Cola are crowned. Long live the King the corporate suits cry out. But This is not about the burger. It is nominal and exclusive. The lack of a debate about the whole morality issue of corporate influence to the point it is unapologetically accepted.

It is the party we are not invited to.

So the teams sometimes in groups of half a dozen, sometimes in pairs, sometimes alone.  They wear matching chinos and sporting tops. They photograph everything looking for Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter.

Team Indonesia holed up in the Waldorf. The Swiss tucked up behind Southwark Cathedral. The streets filled with the sporting fruits of Polynesia . Everyone is lost and asking for directions. Where is the Oxford Street?

Instead I walk along the Thames towards Tower Bridge. I want to see the rings simple and still meaningful to me; hanging from the ramparts of Tower Bridge. They are still the rings of Munich of Mexico City, of The Games with soul still in situ.

At first glance I thought he was wearing a varsity jacket; the Serbian shot putter. Squat and rooted in the earth. Thick, unmovable like a tree trunk.

I walked behind him for about 50 meters from the reconstructed Globe, lovingly rendered so not to look like a Disney attraction.

He slipped into a nook outside the Anchor pub on Bankside. I wanted to stop and share the legend with him: beneath the pub is a fabled tunnel into the Clink prison next door. But my Serbian does not even extend to hello.

The shot putter is young. In his jacket he reminds me of my high school days. I watch him until he notices that I am staring. It dawns on me that he is a sentry; standing guard as I take my leave from this city.

Someone sends me an email: ”We all need to go home every now and then.”  I have not ventured onto the  soil of my birth for nearly half a decade. It does not feel like going home. It feels like I am taking refuge.

Keep the Faith,

The Head

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Filed under The Big Wide World