|A rainy first morning at Lord's, with just me and a St John's Wood pigeon.|
Day 1, Lord's, Monday July 16th 2012
Many people think the Olympic Games start on July 27th, with the opening ceremony, or perhaps on the 25th, with the women's football in Cardiff. Wrong, wrong, wrong. If you're working as an accreditation Games-maker at Lord's, like me, the Olympics start today, July 16th.
My shift began at 7am, so I got up at 5.30 and was out of my accommodation shortly after 6, bedecked in my fresh-out-the-packet Games-maker uniform. Feeling self-conscious, I hid my purple top beneath a hoodie and left my raincoat in the bag, but I wasn't alone. I saw a couple of other volunteers on the way to the station.
I took a reverse-Womble route to St John's Wood (overground, underground), and arrived at the East Gate of Lord's shortly before 7. I didn't know where I was supposed to go after that, but my accreditation pass got me in. I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to find the accreditation office, as it would be signposted. Lots of people would need to get there.
|The Lord's VAHO (venue accreditation help office), for reference. Although that's pointless, since it no longer exists.|
After half an hour of wandering around looking for signs, however, I'd found nothing of use, so I asked an MCC man on the door of the pavilion if he knew where it was. He didn't. I then asked some security guys on the Grace Gates if they knew, but though one of them gave me some very lengthy instructions, it was quickly apparent that, no, they didn't either.
I then asked two very tired security guys on the Nursery Ground, who didn't know, but found someone who knew someone who did. Unfortunately, he wandered off.
|The Nursery Ground at Lord's, turned into an archery practice area.|
I then tried to phone my line manager, but got no response, so I waited for the wanderer to return. He didn't.
Then one of the tired security guards spotted someone. "Oh, there's Laurence," he beamed. "He'll know!" And he bellowed "Laurence!" at him.
The man turned round, but chose to ignore the shout, got into a lift instead, and disappeared.
"That wasn't Laurence," said the other tired security chap.
"Oh," said the shouter, looking deflated. "I thought it was."
I phoned my manager again, and again there was no response. It was getting towards 8am, and I was well into my shift now, but still I hadn't a clue where I was supposed to be. Then two new security guys came by, and were called over, and one of them knew: I should go to Car Park Number 6!
Of course, this turned out to be very near the pavilion and the Grace Gates where I'd been quite some time earlier, but at least now I knew where to go. And as I headed that way, I bumped into two of my fellow accreditation volunteers, Robin and Sami, who said they were going for a coffee as nothing was happening.
|Lord's, Ladies, and Gentlemen, the venue facilities!|
I declined to join them immediately, as I wanted to finally see my base and meet our manager, so I said I'd catch them up. When I got to the Portakabin, though, it was unoccupied, so I tried to find Robin and Sami, and somehow failed on that front too. I must have lapped Lord's about eight times by now.
Finally, unexpectedly, miraculously, I bumped into Megan, our manager, and she was very nice, if slightly distracted. She took me back to the office to give me a pass that I needed for the week, then suggested we find Robin and Sami in time for an 8.30am site induction session.
They weren't where we thought they'd be, of course, but we found them in the end, and were able to go and be induced. This turned out to be primarily for site contractors - the archery venue was still being constructed - but we got a bottle of water and a cereal bar for our troubles. This volunteering lark is all about the freebies.
|I'm all for your 5-a-day, but surely an apple is not a wise thing to give away at an Olympic archery venue?|
And then we had to go and put up some pink signs in the rain, but not before they'd been precisely stickered, and not before we'd gone out of one gate and in another, to test the security (and confuse the security guards). And then we went to the edge of the athletes' area and put up a sign and carried off another and confused some more guards, and Sami nearly got run over by a truck. The driver obviously hadn't been to the induction session.
And after all that excitement, we needed a coffee. So we got one. It was still only 9.15am on the first day. How much more frenetic could Games-making get?
[Next time - Computer says no, not least to the employees of G4S]