I’m sure I can find plenty of publicly accessible open green spaces in and around the Olympic Park
Because I have lived in London ever since I became rich, I am well placed to report on the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer. I did also cover Beijing 2008, and what an inspirational event that was.
So in anticipation of such fun and frivolity making its way to these shores from 27th July, I have decided to visit East London for the first time in my life, to take part in some sporting activities. What with the government promoting ‘sport for all’ and throwing billions at these Games, I’m sure I can find plenty of publicly accessible open green spaces in and around the Olympic Park in Stratford to get my sweat on.
I was hoping to start with a jog around the Olympic Stadium, but turns out you have to be a big cheese for a big corporate sponsor to get that kind of’ ‘access’. Instead I decided to use the inspiration of the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower to go digging around the East End for some iron ore, and maybe find some publicly accessible local sports venues while I’m at it.
Just up the road from Europe’s biggest urban shopping centre is a place called Draper’s Field, which I thought would be a great location for me to participate in my first-ever game of that popular working-class sport, football. However, when I arrived, I discovered it had been transformed by London 2012 organisers into a publicly inaccessible slab of tarmac with a massive storage tent on it.
Undeterred, I ventured up into Leyton, where I understood there was a lovely large expanse of space called Leyton Marshes, where everyone is free to walk their dogs, drink cheap cider and, of course, play sports. Much to my surprise, on arrival I found an excellent new basketball training facility, excluded to everyone except those teams and officials participating in London 2012.
I haven’t played any actual sports yet, but I sure have walked a long way as I desperately try to find a piece of unspoilt green space. Thankfully one of my friends in the weather biz offered me some advice. He said while I was still trying to find somewhere to play real sports, I may as well enjoy a quick game of golf on the lovely, 18-hole par-three Waterworks Golf Centre, which has been left conveniently unspoilt by London 2012 organisers and only costs £6 for a round, plus equipment hire at £1 per club. Yearly membership starts at £39 for adults, including women (although, girls, you will need to pass the fuckability test).
After sinking my seventh-hole birdie, I hit upon a great idea. Isn’t the legendary Hackney Marshes nearby here? I went up to take a look. Ah, well it would appear most of the 337-acre site’s 82 football pitches have been closed off, starting today and continuing until Tuesday, for a non-sport related BBC Radio One music concert, as part of the London 2012 Festival. At least the 50,000 people attending it each day will have plenty of space to park, built on the East Marsh and 12 of the pitches as there has been, a massive coach park for Olympic transport providers.
Well, what an eventful week. I embarked on a mission to get match-fit in time for the start of my London 2012 Olympic coverage, and all I managed was a long walk trying to find an area of public green space that hadn’t been built on, and a round of golf. In a fit of rage, I beat up a security guard and got detained at Wanstead Flats, which from this weekend has become a fortified base for the Metropolitan Police Service to use during the Games. At least I can do some press-ups in my cell.
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