Sunday, July 22, 2012
Torch report - Bow: When you live in a big city, it's often hard to see the community in which you live. Sure, you walk amongst them every day, but very rarely do they all come together for a single reason. The Torch Relay through London provides such a reason, and yesterday the people of Bow came out to celebrate.
They flooded out from houses and flats onto Bow Road. They lined the pavements and the gutters and the bus stops. They stood on the island round the Gladstone statue. They squeezed into the gap in the railings along the edge of St Mary's church. They hung out of their windows on the Bow Bridge Estate. They perched on the row of hire bikes opposite the launderette. They sat drinking at the tables in front of the Bow Bells. They stood by the new sculptures in the middle of the Bow Roundabout. They got out of their cars on the flyover and peered down over the railings. They waved at the smartphone dancers and the fizzy drink purveyors and the cycling bankers. And their patience was rewarded when the torch crossed the Lea and the Olympic Flame passed into Tower Hamlets.
Bow's first torchbearer was Yasmin St Croix, running in place of her father who died of cancer last month. We cheered her on as she ran, and she beamed as she carried the flame up the road. The surrounding security bubble kept the crowd back without any trouble, and in a few brief seconds she was past and gone. A peloton of local cyclists chased behind, followed by all the through traffic that had been trapped behind the convoy. It'd be slow progress up to the Mile End Road and beyond as the day's relay marathon continued. But we weren't following, we were going back home - a community briefly assembled, a collective experience shared.
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