The Olympics Arrives!


After many, many trips to Straford over the past seven or so years, the London 2012 Olympic Games finally arrived last Friday!
I had applied for press accreditation many years previously, but as a freelancer without a specific publication backing my accreditation found it impossible to get a pass. Nevertheless, I wasn’t gonna miss out on covering the biggest event of the decade…
I had arranged many months previously to shoot the opening ceremony from the balcony of a Stratford tower block called Lund Point, as mentioned in a previous post ‘No Room In The East’ but here I found myself a fortnight from the main event without being able to contact my host. Leaving a number of voicemails & even making a frantic visit to the block provided fruitless. I was panicking… I made a couple of late night trips around the venue scouting out a vantage point to shoot from, when I remembered my old friends at the Algha Works.
I shot a massively enjoyable piece for the Financial Times last year at the Algha Works, Britain’s last remaining spectacle manufacturer & i’d stayed in touch with Peter & the guys there. Their factory stands just opposite the Olympic park in nearby Hackney Wick & is one of the tallest buildings in that area- a perfect vantage point to shoot the opening ceremony from.
I had a chat with Peter & he said he’d ask the guys if there was anyone gonna be hanging around that night. A week of nervous waiting began. This was my last throw of the dice. If I couldn’t get on Peter’s roof, i’d resigned myself to staying indoors & watching it on the telly! The good news call came just five days before the opening ceremony that there was indeed gonna be a few of the lads hanging about on the Friday- THANK GOD!
I left it at that & continued with my normal, hectic work schedule then gave Peter a call on the Friday morning; the day of the ceremony. He was checking in at the airport, but explained they’d had a major issue with their alarms & that if it wasn’t fixed in time, nobody would be allowed in the building. Drama right ’till the end!
He gave me the number of Jessie, the guy in charge in his absence, but I don’t think he’d been briefed on my little project & was somewhat confused when I spoke to him over the phone. Good news at last though- the alarm was back up & running & guys were still up for hanging about to see the show, so with the promise of beer, he agreed to let me tag along.
I was back on again!!!
The show wasn’t to start ’till 9pm with the fireworks display not due ’till the end of the show at around midnight, but with the way things were, I wanted to get there early & get set up. I arrived at around 8pm with ths sun still firmly in the sky & the rooftops all around us setting up for the night’s action.
The Wick was a hive of activity with every single vantage point being set-up for parties & gatherings. My Ozzie host had erected a projector & had a mini barbecue going in the corner for his handful of guests. The show got under way with a short shower, but luckilly it was just that quickly dispersing & not returning for the rest of the evening. A dry night was an added bonus!
We had a blast of action around 10pm & when that wrapped, we all looked at each other a bit sheepishly asking; “was that it?”
“No chance” I said, looking at my watch. I was expecting MUCH more of a show than that!
We had a way to go ’till Midnight & although I was already halfway into my shift, it was a long, tedius & nerving wait…
They didn’t disappoint. Almost bang-on Midnight, the main event kicked off & it was an absolute cracker!
The earlier display was good, but we were all hoping the finale would be that little bit better. It was an extravaganza! a totally spectacular end to an amazing night in the eastend.
I packed away my acres of kit before pumping my selection out & heading home. I eventually climbed into bed at the ridiculous hour of 3am! A GREAT night that got me a lovely “Image Of The Week” shot to boot. I’m ever thankful to Peter, Jessie & the guys for allowing me the vantage point to cover this amazing event.

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