Next summer, the world will descend upon London for the Olympic games. I am certain that the city and its people will prepare for it rather like we would prepare for some tragic natural disaster, government riot or act of terrorism. We will look for alternative transportation routes. We will stay away from areas in the city center. We will stock food in aluminum cans. We might not even venture out of our homes — who knows what might happen!
Actually, I am not one to buy these “worst case scenario” stories. Imagine, for example, how much more fun people could have had celebrating the turn of the millenium if they had not been so entirely preoccupied with preparing for Armageddon and Y2K? And yet…and yet, after experiencing the crowding of the underground and the streets near Chelsea Football stadium at Stamford Bridge, I really have very little faith that the city will be able to manage the crowds during the Olympics.
I made the dreadful mistake of choosing to get off of the train at Fulham Broadway the other night right before a Chelsea Football match. I immediately became swept up in a sea of (mostly) men, huddled together, drinking beers or eating greasy hamburgers wrapped in wax paper. They were all wearing the Chelsea Football kit, that is to say, blue and white knit scarves and jerseys. I’ve gotten used to the city crowds, but there was no where to move in the street, no way to independently navigate myself through the streams of people. Literally, caught up in the movement of the brainless crowd. It was fascinating and terrifying.
On the bright side, I have to say that there is something endearingly puerile about this very British phenomenon of wearing a scarf in the colors of the team you support — as if everyone was marching out of Hogwarts, Harry Potter style. I want to coo and chuckle when I see them! No back-turned baseball caps. No massive “We’re #1” foam hands. Just these cute little knit scarves.
Early on in my London move, someone asked which team I support — I confessed I had little knowledge of European football (or hell, nor of American football either…). But after this swarming crowd experience, p’raps I am a Chelsea supporter? I’ll say it *tentatively*.