Has the Olympic Torch lost its way?
Tonight the Olympic flame floated across Windermere. It was a historic moment that brought a lump to my throat, and the moment found me and the kids dashing away from Katy B on the stage, to see the real star of the Olympic Torch Relay.
The Modern Olympic flame..
Looking as regal as the flotillas in the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant a fortnight ago, the Olympic flame sailed out of the dusky drizzle and into the light of a thousand camera flashes. This was a Lake District pageant, the flame aboard the Tern surrounded by dragon boats, cruisers and canoes. Once ashore the torch sprinted in with local lass Jan Booth on its way to take the ‘Moment to Shine’ stage at The Glebe in Bowness-on-Windermere.
But here’s the thing….
Shortly afterwards, it went out. The Olympic flame goes to bed you see. The people on the stage explained what they were about to do shortly before they extinguished it, to avoid panic. But when the flame went out it extinguished my whole illusion of the eternal Olympian torch. You know, the kind that never goes out.
I believed in its magic. I thought it was like God or Simon Cowell; always there if you needed a quick fix. It got me thinking. The Olympic flame really isn’t what it used to be, is it?
Once upon a time it sprinted through ancient Greece like it was…well like it was on fire. But like the rest of us, it seems to have got lazy. I mean it arrived on a boat? Tonight it will have eight hours sleep. Where does a flame sleep? In a flame retardant bed. Then, in the morning, it’ll be driven to Kendal.
After breakfast (and shower?) it’ll do a quick jog into Milnthorpe before driving down the A6 on its way to Carnforth. Admittedly there can’t be a less heroic road anywhere in the world than the A6, but you’d think it might have a crack at it? The Olympic flame will have an easier morning than the rest of us. By the time it starts its commute to work, I will have made three packed lunches, done last night’s dishes, got the kids ready for school, put the washing out, answered my e-mails and got on a train to London.
And here’s another thing….
Since when did the flame get so pally with the major corporations? It’s now more branded than Marks and Spencer’s Meal Deals. And when it tootles down the A6 on its glory ride towards Lancashire, it won’t be alone. It will be followed by the Lloyds TSB bus, the Coca Cola wagon and I’m sure there must be a Samsung something.
Tonight the flame was welcomed on stage by the Coke Show, where everyone in the audience helped make a Mark Ronson style soundtrack of British Sports by banging their Coca Cola drums. Sadly in these hard times, the local entrepreneur selling Union Jacks on the field was doing no trade at all because everyone was waving their free Samsung mascots. It gives you an uneasy sense of The Games having sold out. No, the Olympic flame isn’t what it used to be.
Ah but here’s the real thing…
Actually it is what it used to be. The flame is a symbol of the Olympic spirit. And tonight, during the short period it was allowed to stay up, we all felt that spirit there with us.
The Olympic flame is about being the very best you can be. It’s about pushing yourself and inspiring others. It’s about the human qualities of self belief, dedication, determination, commitment. It’s about ignoring the modern distractions of TV and branding and concentrating on what is inside yourself and discovering what you are capable of. That’s what I want of my flame.
And that’s why I cheered, and waved and felt a lump in my throat. Because the Olympic flame can get away with a lot more than most of us. So I will try and forgive its modern ways, temptations and indiscretions. And to be honest, if I had the choice of jogging down the A6 or hopping in a mini, I know which I’d do.
Tomorrow thousands of people will descend on Windermere for The Great North Swim. The Olympic flame will be on its way to Blackpool and enjoying a nice glass of Coca Cola by the time the swimmers get into their stride. And on reflection, I think I’m ok with that. Are you?
What do you think of the behaviour of the modern flame? I’d love to hear your comments. Click comments below and tell us what you think.
You might also like these other Olympic and Cumbrian Adventure posts
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- Running in the footsteps of Heracles – the Nemean Games
- Lake District Via Ferrata at Honister
- “What is an Adventure Capital?” we asked Cumbria Tourism
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- A journey’s never over until it’s over, completing the C2C
- Our blue sky, go green, 10 point, Go Lakes travel plan!
- Helen Skelton at Keswick Mountain Festival
- Adventure! on the timetable in Cumbrian Adventure Schools
- Night Hike with a purpose - Jubilee beacon lighting on Catbells
- How do you find tranquility in busy places? Roving Tai Chi in The Lakes