ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Stiff Upper Lip Maybe but Olympic Excitement is Palpable.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Tuesday, 24th January 2012
Waking up every morning at the Royal Garden Hotel to the sun rising over Kensington Gardens is glorious; At first, a pale glow tinges the dawn sky and then like one of those slow switches, it turns orange, throwing the blueness of the sky into stark relief.

I've been incredibly lucky with the weather – this is the best of winter days, cold, crisp, sunny. Yesterday, I watched people play soccer, walk their children and dogs and have picnics (they are a hardy breed here).

"It was like this during Kate and William's wedding," said the London taxi driver who was taking me to Princess Garden in South Audley Street for a Sunday dim sum. "Not so cold but clear and crisp." Kate and William are moving into the Kensington Palace after its renovations are completed in March.

He's been driving for 20 years and he, like the two other taxi drivers I met, are looking forward to the Olympics. The anticipation here is a bit understated – as you would expect from this nation – and not as in-your-face as it was in Beijing four years ago.

You hardly notice it as a visitor except for a few billboards here and there. But underneath the stiff upper lip, I sense a desperate longing for the Games to somehow put things right.

"It's the biggest international event in London in my lifetime," said my cabbie, who looks to be in his 50s. "We need it."

He lives in Enfield and during the riots last year, he and his neighbours had to turn vigilantes to protect their families and property. "It was bad, we had to take the law into our own hands but if the police couldn't protect us, we had to do it ourselves."

Asking where I was from, he said, "I wished we had some of the controls you have out there. Societies need to have rules and people ought to respect them."

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