Olympics and Writing Britain

The blog has been delayed this week as I’ve been down south – at the Olympics in London. The Olympic games are a time when people who normally have very little interest in sport, suddenly become experts in pistol shooting, judo, hand ball and the awful beach volleyball. My theory is that people become interested in the Olympics because a) it can be exciting if you only watch the finals and b) a sudden onset of patriotism. I’m told that I should be more positive about the Games and there are positive elements e.g. if you can appreciate the extent of medal winners’ training and dedication, or if you take part in that sport yourself, or of course, if you can watch it live. I went to Wimbledon for the first time to see some good tennis matches, and it definitely is better to watch the speed, power, accuracy and delicacy of the players live than on TV. The highlight for me in London was being at the cycling time trial, which took place not far from where we staying at my wife’s sister’s, and passed through Thames Ditton village, which is not far from Hampton Court, Henry VIII’s huge palace and gardens. I got some good photographs of the cyclists, using my sports setting, as the crowds were sparse at that point. See below for the winner Bradley Wiggins and Australia’s Michael Rogers who helped Wiggins to win Le Tour this year.

As part of this visit, I went into London to The British Library where there is an excellent exhibition entitled Writing Britain, which focuses on how writers have integrated the landscape into their writing. As well as many famous books on show, there were listening facilities where you could hear writers (e.g. Graham Swift, Simon Armitage and Alice Oswald) talking about rural landscapes. The rural aspect was most interesting to me and I skipped over the large London section, although this is still very well done. It too me 2.5 hours (with a break for lunch) to get round the exhibition, so it was excellent value for money. While at the British Library, I consulted the catalogue. Vanity will out, I’m afraid, as I was checking the number of entries for James E Herring, as this was discussed the previous evening. I had thought it was 14 but it turned out to be 17. I also briefly visited The British Museum and, as time was restricted, I only saw the Picasso Prints exhibition and enjoyed it. When the BM was also the British Library, I used to take librarianship students on a study visit there and it was fascinating to see behind the scenes in the Reading Room.

Bradley Wiggins

Michael Rogers

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