One in 8000… Olympics 2012

I know I said I wasn’t writing here any more, but we’ve had some lovely news….

Elodie found out on Tuesday that she’s been chosen as an Olympic torch bearer! Such a lovely way to end a horrible year for her.

In shock…

Elodie saw the Coca-Cola Future Flames adverts on television a while ago asking for young people with a passion to put their names forward.  She applied online, writing about her dance-related hopes and dreams then forgot all about it.  A week ago I got a call from organisers telling me she was a winner, and for a whole week I had to keep it a secret from her.  They asked me to find a reason to get Elodie into London, where a series of things were going to happen before they revealed it to her on camera.

Stupidly, I didn’t take into account fully that it is the end of term with essays due and a dance performance that she had choreographed the next evening.  When I told her about the “surprise” day we were going to have with her godmother Jo the next day, she point blank refused to go.  She adores her godmother but there was an issue with music for the performance she had to sort out, not to mention last minute rehearsals. She didn’t feel well either, so there were tears as Steph and I exchanged desperate looks and whispered ploys to get her to change her mind.  In the end, I took her hands, looked into her eyes and implored.

“You’re just going to have to trust me,” I said.  “If you don’t come to London, you will really, really regret it.  Now how can we work around the issues of you not being a sixth form tomorrow.”

The next morning there were a stream of texts from my contact.  We’d arranged that I would spot him under the big neon sign at Piccadilly Circus at ten to eleven, still with Elodie.  He told me he’d be wearing a red and white Christmas jumper and a hula hoop over his shoulder, and to follow him to the Refectory Cafe around the corner from Carnaby Street where I was to be “miked up” (!)  He was about 50 yards ahead of us when I got a whispered phone call from him to say they were running about 15 minutes late and we’d have to wait in the cafe until the sound crew could get there. 

The man at the till wouldn’t let me pay for our coffee and hot chocolate, saying “It’s your first time here.  We never let anyone pay the first time” (though I knew they were all in on it)… cue minutes of nail-biting for me, looking out for “Jo” while trying to act normal with Elodie.  I felt like I was in a spy film… Then a text from the contact… “Okay! Go through now, past the toilet and out the fire escape door. The sound crew are there.”  And they were, on their walkie talkies, saying things like, “yes, we’ve got the Mum, just miking her up now…” The sound crew told me to leave the cafe and turn right onto Carnaby Street so I went back to Elodie. “Change of plan darling,” I said. “Jo wants us to meet her at Liberty.”

Out we went and immediately things started happening – a man with scarves gave Elodie one of them; some dancers performed a routine for her, then handed her a rose; “a magazine photographer,” (actually, the director) asked if he could take her picture with a male model dressed as Prince Charming…It was bizarre and Elodie starting to get a bit freaked out. “What’s happening?” she kept asking me. “This is so weird..!” When we got to the top of Carnaby Street, a busker with a guitar started playing – then an athlete in a Olympic tracksuit came towards us with a big red box which he handed to Elodie.  She opened it, and there was the Olympic torch.

As she stood there in shock, the band, The Wanted, came out from where they were hiding and joined in with the busker singing the chorus of one of their songs, “We’re glad you came, we’re glad you came…” They all hugged her and everyone started cheering and letting off confetti. It was utterly surreal.  Elodie was speechless and shaking as all the hidden cameras came out and filmed/photgraphed the whole thing.

After introductions and interviews, Elodie, Steph and I went back to the Sanctum Soho Hotel where The Wanted were staying and were told to order whatever we’d like from the restaurant (truly a high point for me!) and wait for a private meeting with the band.

Looking cool, hanging out with The Wanted in their hotel room!

I chatted to the lovely PR lady just before we left and asked how many more times they were going to be doing the same event.  “Just today,” she said. “8000 have been chosen as torch bearers and they’ll get their letters on Thursday but of those, we picked only three to feature and Elodie’s application was top.”  Of course I was bursting with pride but all the same, I was a bit surprised. Readers of this blog will know how I bang on about my children and probably Elodie in particular because of everything she’s had to deal with, some of which I’ve only alluded to.  I think they’re all pretty special as mothers do of their children, and I expect I go on too much sometimes, but when I got home I read for the first time what she’d written.  Amongst all the other applicants who had uploaded videos, got testimonials from supporters, tweeted etc. Elodie’s page was bereft of anything but her “hopes and dreams for the future” – two paragraphs, badly spelled (she would admit) and a muddle of words.  I don’t know.  I am her mother but the huge sentiment behind it made me cry. I’m not going to repeat it here, but it’s easy to find on the internet. It’s just as well she didn’t show it to me before she sent it because I would have got my red pen out, and in doing that it I would have erased the simplicity of her words that I think conveyed so much, and probably ruined her chances.

I’m so proud of her, and of all my children. Later that evening I was looking back at photos of the day, when I felt Juliette by me, joining in.  I’ve had this sense before in happy moments.  I think she’s proud of us all.