The Olympics, Revisited

Download Audio
The Olympics are over in London, but "Only A Game's" Bill Littlefield has a lot of memories from his visit. (AP)
The Olympics are over in London, but "Only A Game's" Bill Littlefield has a lot of memories from his visit. (AP)

There was the running while we were there, and the jumping, and the putting of the shot and the tossing of the javelin and the basketball.

There was the last session of gymnastics, during which a young woman from Needham, Mass., named Aly Raisman, about whom you've heard, delighted the crowd with her floor exercise, and during which, several young women fell off the balance beam, but they all got back up.

The U.S. women's soccer team won, which was not surprising, and the Mexican men's soccer team won, which was.

There was the closing ceremony, I'm told, though by then we were turning left over Nova Scotia, according to the little cartoon airplane on the screen a few inches in front of my nose.

It may be that what I'll remember most fondly about the Olympics just concluded is the exceptional ease and grace with which the good old city of London handled the challenge of the Games.

There had been stories of surface-to-air missiles on the roof tops and of security checks that would rival those at the slowest airports. Instead, we encountered smiling police officers happily providing directions. Beyond that, half the population of London seemed to be serving as volunteers. They were not just helpful. They were cheerfully helpful, even when the subject wasn't the Olympics.

One evening, because I was curious about what a soccer stadium called Craven Cottage might look like, my wife and I took the tube to the closest stop to the field, Putney Bridge, and asked the uniformed woman in the station how to walk there.

"There's daylight enough," she said. "You turn right at the corner, just there, go under the bridge, and walk along through Bishops Park as far as you can go, and you'll see Craven Cottage on the right."

We did, and there it was, bang up against the river, idiosyncratic as its name, though no more craven than any other place of expensive seats. We looked around and then walked back through the park to the station, where the officer was still alone. She seemed happy to see us, relieved.

"You found it?" she asked.

"We did," I said.

"Brilliant," she said.

And it was, as was the rest of our London visit. But don't ask me which country won the most medals. This trip was about games, but we were having too much fun to worry about the score.

This program aired on August 15, 2012.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



More from Only A Game

Listen Live