Well, with the Closing Ceremony looming as I type, it really has been a cracking couple of weeks.
The Torch Relay was fab & really whipped up the crowds and despite portents of doom, the worst that happened (or was it the best?) was a streaker in Henley.
The Opening Ceremony was a delight – I had the good fortune to watch it in Hyde Park with 40k+ others, who also enjoyed a great all day concert. Not sure if the star was the Queen, Rowan, or Becks, but it was certainly a very British affair!
All of the sporting events went well, with security tight but slick.
So what was the worst bit?
Before it all kicked off I responded to an official 2012 survey assessing my preconceptions. When answering, I made clear that my pre-conceptions of the catering offering at the various venues was that it would be substandard and overpriced.
Sometimes I hate being right!
At the afore-mentioned Hyde Park, all food & drink was confiscated on entry. We we told there was free water inside – there wasn’t. A Pimms was a mere £7. A small bottle of water (something of a requirement when we were there for 9 hours) was £2. The food quality was pretty average (if I were to be complimentary!) and the queues were silly.
At Excel, I was allowed to bring in water if I drank some first to prove it would not explode. At Wembley Arena I had to pour my water away, but at least the promised water fountain did exist. How long do you think the queue was??
At Dorney Lake I handed over another £7, this time for a beef bap. I don’t say this lightly, but I would rather have had a Big Mac, even if at the same price. It was awful. Dry bread. Dry beef. Rubbish service from a miserable old boot. No tray or anything similar with which to carry two baps and what I would loosely describe as two coffees. “Disappointing” is a stunning understatement!
Somewhat surprisingly, the great MacDonalds, proud official supplier of chips and certain other comestibles to the Olympics, were nowhere in evidence at any of these venues.
Nor were they in evidence at Old Trafford. They would have been most welcome there, as there was NO food available, despite the match ticket being for a double header with a match at 5pm followed by Team GB playing at 8pm. At least 6 hours on the premises with NOTHING to eat – my stomach thought that my throat had been cut.
So how did I find out about the lack of food?
Well, I queued for a little over half an hour, all the while trying to decide whether to go for the steak pie, the cheese & onion pie or the sausage roll (should I be chatting with the Advertising Standards Authority about the promised “wide range of healthy food options”?).
When I finally got to the front & ordered, I was told there was no food.
“What, sold out already?” I enquired. “No, the food did not arrive from the supplier so there is no food at all in the stadium.” came the incredible response. After a bit of banter which I choose not to repeat here, I suggested they might like to tell the hundreds (thousands?) of people in the queue. They didn’t think that was a good idea, nor was my suggestion that they put up a sign saying “No food”. The most maddening thing was that the supervisor to whom I was speaking thought the whole thing was really funny – he was getting the same money whether he sold food or not, so what difference did it make to him?
In case you think I am making this up, have a read at http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1584568_anger-of-olympic-football-fans-as-old-trafford-runs-out-of-food .
So, why the rant here??
Because everything else about the Olympics has been so good and, dare I say it, has made me proud to be British. I’ve loved reading articles by foreign journalists about how great the games have been, how jolly the Games Makers have been, how brilliant the BBC coverage has been, and more.
I just wonder what visitors think of our food offering.
We have so many great restaurants and great chefs in this country. We can and do teach the world about supply chain management. How can the whole food thing have been got so wrong, and what do our global neighbours think of that? Such a shame.
However, well done to everyone else!!