The main reactions I’ve seen from residents of London (based on random interviews around London) about the Olympics has been:
b) Cautious excitement
c) …Followed by actual excitement
d) Devastating snark
Let me break it down.
The first is likely because everyone was worried about the devastation we visitors and tourists would do to the transportation and general aura of the city. Although it’s primarily about how stuffed the Jubilee line has become — although it really is nothing compared to the PATH train from New York to New Jersey.
The cautious excitement came after the realization that actually, it wasn’t all that bad. The tourists were nice enough. The city hadn’t broken down. It was like a sigh of relief. The Opening Ceremony was particularly promising, with its rampant wit and references to James Bond and Harry Potter and Mr. Bean.
And that cautious excitement became actual excitement when various British athletes — such as Jessica Ennis, Rebecca Adlington, and most recently, Andy Murray, began to do the country proud. People gathered in pubs and at home to cheer these people on.
And finally, there’s the devastating snark, hinted at during the Opening ceremony, that I’ve seen all around. Here are some (unfortunately mostly unrecorded) conversations I’ve been a part of (though I’ve also been eavesdropping):
“Did you seen the Queen during the opening ceremony? When they went to her when the UK finally came up in the nations walk, she was looking at her nails. And the commentator said, ‘Here’s the Queen, clearly riveted.’ It’s like, no she’s not, she’s just looking at her nails!”
“I like the signs that tell people where to go. But they’ll be pointing all in one direction until you turn a corner and then they’ll point the opposite way!”
Me: (in conversation with someone else) “It’s really hard to get British people to talk to me [on camera].”
Random woman standing in between us: “Oh, it’s really hard to get us to stop talking.”
“I believe Usain Bolt is the Noam Chomsky of the Olympics — it’s just really easy for him to do what he does.”
“I could run as fast as Usain Bolt, if I tried!”
“Oh, Michael Phelps, is he the pothead?”
Announcement on DLR: “I’ve just heard that Andy Murray has won the gold, everyone! Let’s have some cheers for him!”
Everyone in the front cheers; everyone else: “Yeaaaaahhh…!”
“I love Jessica Ennis, she’s like the next Princess Diana!”
“My favorite athlete is the swimmer, Andy Murray.” (Admittedly this came from a seven-year-old.)
“Oh, the Olympics. I should watch that.”
Finally, this woman in Stratford, directing people around the Olympic Park: