Every fortnight or so, en route to Cambridge and parts East, I drive past the 2012 Olympic site. I resisted Olympic fever when the success of the London bid was announced.
It seemed one more burden for an already struggling capital city and an extra headache for the security services. But now that I see the buildings actually rising, I can’t suppress a tingle of excitement. It’s the speed of construction, as much as the architecture. There are the batwings of the velodrome, nearly finished. Faceted sides have appeared on the basketball stadium. Even Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre, predicted to be too difficult to build on time, is taking shape as the promised stingray.
I have to be careful here. I was an enthusiast for the Millennium Dome, going to the extent of writing a book on Greenwich, in the expectation of the holiday crowds flooding the celebrations in 2000. Alas, the Dome flopped. Still, it’s now highly regarded as a venue for pop concerts. The public has come round to it in the end.
Similarly, cynics like me are beginning to kindle to the Olympic flame. As austerity descends, we’ll be glad of any excuse for a party. Like the 1951 Festival of Britain, London 2012 may provide the fillip we all need.