A few weeks ago, we weren’t too sure what to expect with the Commonwealth Games coming to town. Everywhere you went, there were (literally) signs that things were going to be different:
The Games finished last night, and we all agreed that we’d thoroughly enjoyed them. There were a lot more people, and a lot more police, than usual, but it really lived up to its reputation as “the Friendly Games”.
Last weekend we ventured into town, and were amazed at the crowds:
In the photo above, the man with grey trousers and a red and white shirt is one of the 15,000 Games volunteers, nicknamed the “Clydesiders”. They were everywhere you went, and were truly friendly, come rain or shine.
There was a great family atmosphere, and a lot of cultural events alongside the sporting ones. Michael succeeded in getting tickets to the squash semi-finals, and that was very interesting. I don’t know much about squash – it seems to be ping-pong played inside a box, essentially. But the human drama was fascinating. The first match we watched was between two women on the England team and were they bad-tempered! One threw down her raquet and had to be ordered to return to the court. But the second match, between the best male squash player in India and a man from the England squad, showed true sportsmanship.
They were courteous to each other, and applauded good volleys even when on the losing side. It was a joy to watch them.
I was also fascinated by how the court had to be wiped down by the volunteers. I can’t imagine how sweaty it must have been inside! Sometimes the players would slip, and the cleaning crew would descend to mop things up in the middle of a match:
Everyone around us was very knowledgeable about the sport and there were tense moments, with much discussion amongst the spectators, when a player requested a video replay:
Certainly in the matches we saw, the audience responded to good sportsmanship. It was reported that the crowds encouraged members of all the different teams.
I like the photo below – behind the guy on the green phone you can see four young pals walking along together. One of them has the red cross of St. George painted on his face to show he’s an England supporter; two of the others have Scotland’s colours. (And the fourth has a marvellous head of ginger hair!) I think they were all together, and I liked that.
My memories of the Commonwealth Games will be: policemen wishing me a good morning as I walked to church; helping a woman with a partially-sighted daughter to find parking outside a control zone – she was a farmer’s wife who had driven for hours to come; friendly volunteers at the train stations directing people; an Isle of Man team member doing training runs in our neighbourhood. Oh and the fact that during the Opening Ceremony people were invited to donate money to Unicef – over £5 million was raised for children in the Commonwealth countries by the end of the Games.
The Closing Ceremony was last night, and tonight we are marking 100 years since the start of the Great War. The public are being urged to turn out all lights for an hour from 10 to 11 pm, to mark the last hour of peace, and echoing the Secretary of State’s remark 100 years ago, that the “lights will go out all over Europe”.
With all the dreadful conflicts that are going on in the world right this minute, it would be so nice to think that the spirit of the Games will ultimately prevail. I have no photos of candles so will leave you with another symbol of hope, flowers: