We leave in good time, well okay, in very good time, to get the train to Maze Hill for Greenwich Park. As we departed in a shower, my companion has brought an over large umbrella that will probably not make it through Olympic park security. Some friendly South Africans guide us to the station. We show ourselves up as numpties from the country by trying to shove our travel passes through a barrier that is a) exit only and b) open. The expected thronging hordes are conspicuous by their absence. On arrival at Greenwich, our way is made clear by the numerous volunteers who sport large sponge fingers indicating the direction in which we should go. It does make them appear a trifle (yes, a pun) stupid but helpful none the less. We have time for a wander around before being the fourth and fifth people to enter the venue. We would have been first and second but for the three Japanese (inevitable) who managed to get in before it was actually open. We make it through the security barrier, umbrella and all. We are impressed with the organisation and how chatty and helpful everyone is. There are even people to help you work out which toilet is vacant.
We find our seats and they are excellent (row 6), the only drawback is that a speaker obscures the big screen. The stadium is not exactly full, well it is pretty much empty but we enjoy watching the riders walking the course. Some people come in looking for row 7 and sit three rows in front of us. This is odd, surely row 1 is at the bottom of the thirty or so rows of seats that tower up on three sides. It turns out that there are no rows 1-4 in this part of the stadium so we move forward for an even better view; the screen is no longer obscured and we are sat right in front of the finishing line. The jumps have been cleverly constructed to resemble landmarks such as Stonehenge and Nelson’s column. ‘Sky-cam’ runs, rather noisily, above us on wires in order to get aerial pictures of the ring.
Some tractors enter the ring. I thought we’d come to watch horses, maybe I misread the schedule and tractor racing is now an Olympic sport. Chris looks a little more interested in the proceedings at this point but it turns out they are just here to smooth out the sand. I have identified another job to put on my list of Olympic roles I would like to fulfil. I had already decided I fancied riding the little motorised bike for the Keirin or wielding a sponge finger. Now I have added driving the tractor round the show jumping ring. An escapee from Play School introduces herself, via the big screen, as our hostess. She is seriously over enthusiastic. We start playing spot the stadium/security violations: big hats, large flags, use of camera flashes. Miss Playschool is chatting to the crowd. She has found someone with some champagne, how did that make it through security? There are a few showers. I am well equipped with my plastic poncho, low on style but waterproof. Unfortunately I fail to pull it down far enough at the back so it acts like a funnel and all the water from the poncho runs down my back to the seat. I end up sitting in a puddle and looking as if I have an incontinence problem.
The 22,000 capacity stadium gradually fills up. There are some unoccupied seats opposite, which is galling when we know people who would love to be here. The jumping commences. 75 rounds, including Nick Skelton and Ben Maher. One poor Swedish rider demolishes fence three and falls off. Oh, now there’s an even better job. There is an official Olympic pooper scooper. She even has a colour-co-ordinated long handled dust pan in Olympic purple.
Much as I like children, I decide that no one under the age of ten should be allowed in an Olympic Stadium. The ones in front, aged 1-7, are so not appreciating it and will probably have killed each other before the end. Even the well behaved twelevish year old next door but one spends most of the time reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. Not that some of the adults are much better. They seem to feel obliged to leave their seats with unfailing regularity. Five rounds from the end the announcer warns us that we will be leaving the stadium in row order, when asked so to do. This clearly isn’t going to work and starts a rush for the exits whilst people are still jumping. I know the stands outside sell delights such as wild boar burgers and people want to be first on the queue but this is just rude. Can these people be put on some Olympic ticket buying black list? As we leave the stadium, my companion offers to carry my bag. This seems like a good idea until I realise that, if we get separated, I will have no money, no travel card and no phone.