Ronnie, a retired maths teacher from Glasgow, is one of 70,000 Games Maker volunteers for the London 2012 Olympics and Para-Olympics. His role for the next two months is to be part of the accreditation team at Heathrow Airport, issuing passes to the 60,000 athletes, officials, dignitaries, press and anyone else associated with the Games who needs accreditation. He'll be giving readers a regular behind-the-scenes insight into the event.
An abiding heart-warming snapshot of London took place on the Jubilee line going out to the Olympic Stadium on a sunny August afternoon. A group of New Zealand swimmers came on at London Bridge, young, fit with razor sharp muscles, exactly what you’d expect to see in an Olympian Kiwi water sportsman. The carriage came to life and there was a genuine interaction between the athletes and passengers especially with the youngsters who were requesting autographs - the ambiance was beautiful, just right. Why should I have been surprised?
In a previous working life you will know, if you’ve been listening, that I like to get into work early. There are huge advantages in this, the roads are quieter with time to absorb the surrounding countryside, time for thoughts, time to tune into 5 Live ‘through the night’, time to read the morning papers in peace with a double espresso and croissant.
There is a reason why the jacket has to have that new look – the Paralympic logo is different from the five rings of the Olympic Games and it depicts the wonderful Paralympic motto ‘spirit in motion’.
A trip to the Uniform Distribution and Accreditation Centre in Canning Town was necessary to pick up the two new shirts and the two sustainable parts of the uniform. A new Accreditation certificate is also required and hung round my neck with a new different coloured lanyard.
All it needs now is the arrival of the Paralympians.
1. There has to be someone at Executive level within Glasgow 2014 who has a clear vision of the role of the Volunteer. London 2012 was determined to better the template forged by Sydney 2000, regarded as having the best ever Volunteer programme.
At every step, Locog recognised that Volunteers were absolutely central to providing what turned out to be described as the ‘happy and glorious’ Games (creating a relaxed supportive atmosphere helps athletes to feel at ease which is essential for them to compete to their best).
There’s a common perception that the athlete’s Olympic Village could be mistaken for Party Town.
But not if you’re the Latvian Modern Pentathlete whose late afternoon arrival two days before her event was because of a reason every working parent will recognise – the problem of finding a suitable child minder. I was able to empathise (which isn’t bad for a man).
The adventure began when I met up with an accomplice at Green Park underground.
The Underground was well signposted with very clear diagrams showing the directions to all the Olympic venues. One up to London and the atmosphere that’s being created.
There are no line changes from Green Park to the Olympic Stadium; the Underground is fast, efficient and full of olympic athletes who are more than willing to chat to passengers and sign autographs for young children. That’s a plus for the athletes then, as well.
During a question session someone asked "will we get pins?" ("only if you sit in the same position for too long," was the answer I was expecting.)
The question's relevance only struck home as I sat down at my desk on the first morning of duty.
What a remarkable start to the day...
"You’re from north of the border", remarked the gentleman with the patrician pose on hearing my greeting. "My father was from Leith and I still have an aunt who lives in Trinity", he continued.
And that was how I met the Minister for Sport from Zimbabwe, who still makes visits to Edinburgh.
With a DNA like that in government I’m sure Zimbabwe will excel, I hope they do.
Terminal 1 has good Air Conditioning which neutralises the sight of baking runways and overheated travellers.
Namibia’s Sports Minister chooses comfort over formality and looks quite relaxed in his electric blue tracksuit. He is very friendly and arrives a short time after the president of Lesotho’s National Olympic Committee.
The arrival of dignitaries adds even greater variety to the increasing numbers of the Olympic Family and it really feels like a homecoming – London’s coming home.
Based at Heathrow, Ronnie has been busy welcoming the first athletes to London - and there have already been some big stars among them.
Was that really the sprinter Tyson Gay strolling past, with a wave and big smile? Tyson Gay runs fast and walks like a cool dude. Go Tyson, Go!
There are those who are fluent in many languages, those with PhDs, marketing experts, hospital consultants, charity workers, mothers who have spent years bringing up children, students, currency traders - and a salesman who sold tractors behind the Iron Curtain.
Some have taken time away from work, others are squeezing in shifts within their normal working week, and there are those who have retired from the day job.
I didn’t know what to expect for accreditation training but it has been detailed and extensive; and working at Heathrow has meant an extra layer of instruction.
Apart from two generic sessions of Games Maker training, which could be summed up within the phrase "exceptional hosting", a further two have dealt with the detail of accreditation; the actual process and the venue.
After a few false starts in Hastings, a caravan in Chichester seems at first a good idea then transforms into an eleven week booking. Sometimes you just have to go for it!
How will an 11-week stay in Sussex play out with the wife and a Jack Russell?
To Wembley Arena for orientation training. Decide to drive and leave Scotland as near 7am as possible.
Once again the Olympic dream was a unifying force, this time for a city in distress. (Having been to see Billy Elliott, I had driven past one of the Underground stations just hours before it was devastated).
Ken Livingstone’s powerful "look around you" declaration that the city would come together in the face of terror was the trigger that started my thought processes.
Inspired by his defining speech from Beijing, I was ready to step up to the plate when the London Needs You call went out to potential Volunteers. And so my Olympic quest began.
This was no ordinary track. Its six-lane circuit was part of an amphitheatre. A Roman amphitheatre, filled with spectators.
One of the stick-like figures had broken away and holding on to his slender advantage went on to become the first Olympic champion to make a lasting impact on the child.
The athlete was Herb Elliot, the child was me, the year was 1960 and the Olympic Games were in full swing.
In times of Zen-like calm, flicking through life’s back pages, I can still instantly recall any amount of Olympic images.