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.
The starter's gun has been fired. An e-mail arrives from Locog (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), wondering if I had what it takes to be a Gamesmaker, the official title of an Olympic Volunteer. I like that title.
Some 70,000 Volunteers are going to be needed for the Games and a third of that number for the Paralympics as well.
I’m already feeling a sense of anticipation about applying. This is going to be THE "once in a lifetime" opportunity.
September 15, 2010 (online applications open at 8am)
Application forms. I’ve felled a rainforest or three. This one is pretty much as I had expected and asks for all qualifications, experience and any skills with regard to computer literacy.
It asks for passport details and whether I have any form of Disclosure. Working as a private maths tutor it is essential to have a Certificate of Disclosure. All in all it’s quite a functional application but I try to add some focus to the many interpersonal skills acquired over decades as a teacher.
At the close of applications there are 280,000 applicants for 70,000 posts. That’ll be a one in four chance, then. Wondering whether to take a trip down to the bookie!
I’ve been selected for interview. The odds are shortening. 100 000 are going to be interviewed for 70,000 places. The bookies aren’t offering odds, which doesn’t really bother me as I’ve never even bought a National Lottery ticket; it could be you, probably not, so why waste £1?
The interviews are at the beginning of May so that gives me time to devise a winning strategy, I hope.
May 5, 2011
The interviews are being held in the Science Centre, by the River Clyde in Glasgow. I’ve chosen to take a slot in the late afternoon just in case there are traffic problems on the way.
I’ve had a few.
And quite a few,
Went very badly. (humming the tune, optional!)
Driving through the Clyde tunnel in new shirt and new shoes (old habits and all that), I was determined to emerge on the Govan side of the tunnel with a simple plan. So I started to talk to myself, a tunnel pep-talk.
"Look you! Be yourself. Just be yourself. For years in your professional life you’ve gone into interviews hoping to say the things THEY would like you to say.
"Well don’t do that today, not this day, this is your day, this is a day you can leave a legacy for your children, for all your family. Be yourself. This once in a lifetime, just be yourself day.
"Just relax, be open, be confident, be friendly, be enthusiastic, just make sure you say the things you really deep down want to say, the few passionate things you might have always wanted to say, say them now, and remember there is nothing wrong with starting off by saying IT’S THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, because IT IS the most singular event ever invented by mankind that brings everyone together with the aim of being all they can be, it’s not just a slogan, for them or for you, it’s one dream, it’s what you really, really BELIEVE, and when you’ve done all that, remember, no ending sentences with ‘aw right big chap’, be erudite, and smile for god’s sake.
"Oh and one final thing, be sure it’s the bottle of Evian you take in and not that filthy half-full bottle of Irn-Bru."
Emerging into sunny Govan, the pep talk was over, so too the phoney war. Next stop was the Last Chance Saloon.
The doors to the interview area opened. Cometh the hour, cometh the Interview. This was my first view of the London 2012 organisation.
After checking our ID we had our photographs taken before entering the interview area. To the left were the interview carrels and they didn’t appear intimidating at all. There were maybe about a dozen; each had two chairs and a small table. When you were in the carrel you weren’t really aware of others round about.
We’re invited to relax by taking a look at some short video clips of various aspects of the Olympic Games, its history and London 2012 in particular. At this point, I’m struck by the enormity of the Games. There’s Seb Coe welcoming us as potential Games Makers and how important a role the Volunteers will have in making the Games successful. This is reinforced and emphasised by a string of athletes, para athletes, previous medal winners and fresh, up and coming new names.
Watching Olympic clips from yesteryear caught me slightly off-guard and I could feel myself becoming quite emotional especially as there was a split second view of Cathy Freeman, head poised for immortality. Yes I did want to burst into tears, again, but a woman was already introducing herself as my Interviewer.
"Why do you want to be a Games Maker?’
"I’ve always wanted to be part of THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, I started…..because it’s the singular most inclusive event of passion, and dedication …" I was off!!
Thirty minutes later it was over, we’d covered as much as was possible for he her to get a picture of what Locog would be buying into with me. I had tried to carry out the tunnel plan.
October 7, 2011
Congratulations on becoming a Games Maker! Words that change everything.
I have been accepted into the Accreditation team at Heathrow airport for the Olympics and Paralympics. I was well pleased, as they say these days.
I’m now part of the organisation that has clearly been going on for years, since 2003 as it happens.
I shall be issuing accreditation to athletes, officials and dignitaries as they arrive at Heathrow Airport.
The skills needed for accreditation are, they say, exceptional. I’ll try.
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