Friday, 3 August 2012

The wanderer returns

Well, I'm not back in the Land of Pork Scratchings just yet - I'm still living in the Land of Polyester, where we breathe conditioned air and our skin takes on the same tones as the floodlights which bear down on us. It's a very weird place - the uniform makes us instantly approachable, and temporary friendships are made and dissolved at light speed. Last night a man told me how to solve the financial crisis (pay the FSA more than the bankers); an Australian said some racist and politically absurd things to me, and I've passed the time with cops, squaddies, doctors, panel beaters, programmers and many others.

The uniform makes us part of a hierarchical tyranny and an autonomous collective: to the blazers who boss us about, we're interchangeable drones, but we've discovered mutual respect between ourselves. It takes a bit of adjustment - for all my democratic principles, I'm used to being treated with a degree of respect thanks to my job, or for what I do in the fencing world. Suddenly being a drone again is both difficult and very very good for me. Here, I can't trade on past performance or a title: I'm again the same as everybody else, and it's a salutary lesson. That's not to say I don't get righteously furious when someone treats me or anyone else like an idiot, but most of the time we are hard to tell apart. Most of the time I'm having enormous fun. I like the tense atmosphere, the rumours, the minor crises, the awesome performances and the way we've all become institutionalised so quickly - we've all adapted to being at the Olympics and in the presence of greatness with some alacrity - perhaps too much. It's like refereeing a regional U-10's competition now!

There have been moments of glamour - Daley Thompson, Michael Crick and bloody Boris were in yesterday, and this evening Vladimir Putin, having a break from enabling Syrian massacres, dropped in to watch his women's foil team get as battered in the final as a democracy activist in Red Square. I'd bought a ticket for tonight, and was delighted to find myself sitting next to Sophie Troiano, one of Britain's foil team. They didn't do brilliantly today, but they were up against Italy, who had taken all three of the medals in the individual competition. Sophie was absolutely lovely - chatted away, signed autographs for people and generally impressed everyone.

I've been taking lots of photos, but won't be able to process them for a few days yet - there are 900+ so far. As a taster, here are a few I rather like. I took them at 1/640th or 1/800th of a second, f 5.6, ISO of 2500. Oh for a fast telephoto lens… Click them to enlarge.

Ruben Limardo Gascon celebrates winning Olympic gold for Venezuela. It's the mask that makes this shot

Two attempts at multiple exposure. 

Finally, I found out what really happened with the Shin controversy which led to a 90 minute stand-off and the belated offer or a consolation medal. It's not exactly anybody's fault but it has exposed technical failings. Shin twitched before the referee started play, and the timekeeper started the clock, which went from 1 second remaining to zero. The referee gave her a yellow card for moving early and ordered the clock reset. Because the scoring boxes don't give fractions of seconds, it was reset to 1 complete second remaining - and Shin's opponent scored. Shin only needed to keep the score level for that minute, having won the toss for priority, and she thought she'd managed it. Certainly she shouldn't have gone early, but similarly the clocks should be capable of keeping more precise time. 

All the rest of my photos -730 odd - are here.

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