Tuesday 22nd May 2012
LOCK, clock, apparel: for the hired bicycle, not to miss anything, and in order to play the part… for today I’m travelling from Corinium to Aquae Sulis, there to witness festivities born centuries ago in ancient Greece. This is right up my Ermin Street.
It is a day for colours: the bluest of skies, our pollen yellow T-shirts, black ink, lush green foliage, and the red of fire, as the flame of the Olympic torch passes through the fair city of Bath on the fourth day of its long journey from the Temple of Hera to London.
Over a quick coffee under the shadow of the Abbey, I meet ‘the crew’: seven keen and thoughtful children, Quest writers, reporters with yellow notebooks, jotting down questions to ask, familiarising themselves with hi-tech recording equipment.
Then it’s up to Royal Crescent, to lock the bike to railings, to share laughter with gate-men and camera-carrying students, to survey the greensward where orderly files of folk all in blue begin to form the first ring. The aim is to break the world record, which stands at 1,852 standing together, in formation, for ten minutes.
The crew interview dignitaries, other pupils, parents, and a soldier more nervous than they, joshed by his brothers-in-arms. Under a hot sun, I scribble notes in black biro, seeking numbers from the lads with clickers who record each smiling face, each passing push-chair.
“One thousand, four hundred and thirty-three… and counting.”
Pedalling quickly back down to Kingston Parade, I notice a throng of Japanese tourists disembarking from a coach. Time for a haiku perhaps:
Two thousand people
Five interwoven circles
One sun one crescent
The crew are finishing packed lunches, their morning’s work rewarded with ice-creams. Mummers and buskers entertain in the square. Watchers’ faces glow red in the heat. I flop on the flagstones, record the poem for posterity and chew chicken pieces.
Time to bid farewell to my young friends, for I must now jump on the bike and pedal off, in search of torch-bearers.