I’m a little late posting this latest update, I’m going to blame the Olympics, which of course is what the Torch Relay was bringing to London anyway, so I think I’m excused!
This was Day 69, the penultimate day of the Relay and I got up extremely early so that I could see it come through Islington where I live. I walked down to Upper Street, just after the Highbury Corner roundabout and was shocked at just how many people were there, given that it was 7:30am and a working day. The other thing that struck me was that although there were warnings put up well in advance to warn drivers of the relay, the road hadn’t actually been closed, so there was still traffic trying to come the other way; given the amount of people, this wasn’t good news for anyone driving!
It was great to finally see the Olympic Flame in the flesh, after having seen it on television everywhere else in the country. Rhyania Blackett-Codrington was the Torch Bearer for the stretch that I was on, from what I’ve read she was nominated because she is a School Teacher and is involved in helping to mentor and turnaround the lives of disadvantaged youths. I think I got some good shots of her carrying the flame, its just a shame that unlike just about every other Torch Bearer I’ve seen, she didn’t smile! From an interview I read afterwards, she was apparently extremely nervous and overwhelmed by the number of people, so I guess that understandable. I’ve also read that she has allowed her Torch to be displayed in Hackney Community College which helped to get her qualifications and turn her own life around, so thats certainly pretty cool of her to do.
After the Torch had gone by, I followed it a little further down the road to Islington Town Hall where Rhyania was to hand it over to comedian David Walliams. I suppose because of the draw of a celebrity and because the council had laid on music and dramatics outside the Hall, the crowd was even bigger here, so it was difficult to even move. It was pretty hard for me to get good photos at this stage, but as I got closer and started to follow it again, I did manage to get what is probably my favourite photo of the day as David held the Torch high as he was running.
The Torch Relay continued on but it was difficult to keep up with it because of the crowds. Before I knew it I was in Angel as it headed through Finsbury into the City. I thought it would be nice to try and get some more photos, so I decided I would try and beat the flame to another point on the route. I figured that The Millennium Bridge with St. Paul’s in the background would be a picturesque spot and had an hour to get there while it snaked around the City. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get onto the bridge itself, as the organisers had decided to only allow the Torch Bearer on it, who at the time nobody had a clue who that would be. I waited about 30 minutes at the end of the bridge with a group of about 40 people, however it was made up much more of tourists this time, lots of foreign accents. When the sight of the flame eventually appeared in the distance on the bridge, it didn’t take long to work out that it was Ade Adepitan, Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Star turned TV Presenter. He wheeled his way along the bridge and was absolutely loving it, so great to see.
I moved into the crowd to watch as Ade handed over the flame with the ‘torch kiss’, it then disappeared into Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and that was the last I saw of it. I then walked all the way along the South Bank and was amazed by the buzz that had now engulfed London, there were pop up art installations and exhibitions, dramatics and TV crews from just about every nation. London was ready.
You can see more of the photos I took on the day below: