By Graham Morrison
August 20, 2008
The closing ceremony is in three days. I've been here since 6th August and now it feels like time to go home.
Working at these events is like living in a bubble in a world where you lose track of time completely - and if you're not careful, reality. The seven hours difference between Beijing and London does not help either; it keeps you out of bed. And on top of that, you come to the conclusion that if you really want to follow the Olympics, in front of the television in London is probably the place to be - you just miss the atmosphere and the snippets that turn a report into a story.
Until this morning, the weather the last few days has been glorious, but this morning the rain returned. No amount of metaphorical rain though could dampen Team GB's party - as I write they are number three in the Olympic pecking order. Well maybe one thing could. Before the Games, UK Sport had a measurable target in medals, while the BOA just wanted to see progress. The target for London 2012, though, was stated as 4th. So what will Team GB do for an encore?
I have managed to escape to the town a couple of times. Beijing is just huge so fortunately the taxis are cheap and the metro new, clean and quite efficient. First I thought I'd go see the Silk Market, especially after the glowing testimonials from the Presidents Bush. I didn't get there. Instead, in one of the diplomatic areas near the Workers Gymnasium I found an open-air shopping centre where I could but Adidas, Starbucks, McDonald's, and other assorted franchises.
Disillusioned I moved on and found a real clothing house of horrors. "Welcome to China" announced the hustler at the door. After a quick look around, a rapid exit from this bit of China seemed good. And my fashion industry director daughter will be please to read that I bought nothing there. I found a decent mall next day, but it was full of Prada, YSL, even Gieves & Hawkes. But I did find a couple of good Chinese shops and bought some presents.
My other outing has been to Dini's, the kosher restaurant. I had there lunch one day and dinner the next, and got to see the Rabbi. Not cheap by Chinese standards, but infinitely better than the Main Press Centre where I tried curried lamb one day - more like curried old ram, but it was just 90 pence. It's just not practical to go there every day, and less so to use their delivery service. But it is hard to explain just how good a plate of chicken soup and an ordinary smoked salmon bagel can taste.