The Olympic torch, made of what appears to be gold-colored metal, is a meter long and surprisingly heavy.
In order to carry the torch, you must first be sponsored by someone who can think of a good reason why you might deserve this honor, then be approved by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games.
I was sponsored due to my blog, The Year of Living Englishly, enjoyed by no less a personage than Queen Elizabeth, who was said to have appreciated my trenchant comments about the country over which she reigns.
It is also rumored that she wants to put my name in for the New Year’s Honours later this year, perhaps for an OBE (which stands for Order of the British Empire or perhaps for Order of British Excellence given the fact that no one wants to think about Empire any more), or she might possibly give me a gong so that I will become a Dame, or perhaps be given a seat in the House of Lords.
So as I was carrying the torch through Cambridge, feeling extremely proud and excited, hearing the crowd shouting my name over and over as I beat Roger Bannister’s and others’ 4-minute mile, I–
OK, OK, it’s not actually my torch. Nor did the Queen sponsor me, nor did I beat the 4-minute mile. The torch in my hand belongs to my 17-year-old daughter Katie’s Cambridge track coach, Bryn, who carried it for 300 meters in the town of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, two weeks ago. He brought it over to my house tonight to show it to me and let me heft it, so heft it I did. And it is indeed hefty. And heftable. It is extremely inspiring that the same flame that came from Athens and traveled around the UK burned in this very same torch that I’m now holding in my hands.
But here’s Bryn, the real hero of this post. Please note that he’s sideways because I haven’t yet found a way to rotate this video. Just turn your computer a bit to the right or your head a bit to the left and it will look alright:
In traveling around the UK, the torch has been to some extremely interesting places: abseiled from a helicopter near the Tower of London, attached to a hot air balloon, punted down the River Cam, flown by jetpack, sailed on a powerboat across Loch Ness, and traveled on a miniature railway, a canal boat, the London Eye, and the London Underground. My cousin Julie saw it as it went gliding in a funicular across the Heights of Abraham in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire (pictured in the next link).
Here are some photographs of the well-traveled Olympic flame.
Only 4 more days until the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Let the Games begin!
(And re: the OBE, from God’s lips to QEII’s ears. But I won’t hold my breath.)