South Scotland

Olympic torch: When the flame passed my Dumfries doorstep

Olympic torch
Image caption The Olympic flame made one of its last appearances in Scotland on the streets of Dumfries

I can remember quite clearly my reaction when London was announced as host for the 2012 Olympics.

"Might as well be in Helsinki," I harrumphed, "for all the difference it will make to me."

It was, I suspect, a view mirrored in many parts of Scotland and one which, for some people, may still remain.

Nonetheless, I found myself jumping out of bed a little earlier and munching my toast on the move this week in order to see the Olympic flame.

In truth, it took little effort on my part.

By happy coincidence, the route of probably the most famous torch in the world came a few hundred yards from my front door.

So myself and my two children made the less than epic journey to the end of the road to watch it on its way.

Most of my neighbours had turned out and it made for a nice community feel as we waited patiently for the flame and its associated back-up vehicles to pass.

The weather, of course, did its south of Scotland best to dampen the spirits.

A dreich and dreary day threatened to burst into rain at any moment as we lined the Annan Road heading out of Dumfries.

Yet my children waited faithfully and happily - taking pictures of any vehicle or person who happened to pass in front of them.

Free flags, tambourines and bottles of the world's best known cola drink which were being handed out to the crowd only heightened their enthusiasm.

Then, with a honk of a horn, and the flash-past of a couple of police motorbike outriders, the flame appeared over the hill.

Image caption The threat of rain did not dampen children's enthusiasm for the flame

The cynical me might have been underwhelmed but, through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl and six-year-old boy, the occasion provoked greater excitement than I had anticipated.

They desperately wanted to capture the moment and could not wait to get to school to share the moment with their friends.

As the flame passed by our noses, we waved and cheered and shouted encouragement as the Olympic symbol made its way out of Scotland on its long and winding journey towards London.

It was over in an instant, leaving the children to run up and down the street pretending they were carrying a torch of their own.

The roads quickly cleared and it would be easy enough to imagine the whole thing had never happened.

Yet it did, for a moment at least, prompt me to question the view of the London Olympics that I took when it won the bidding process.

The cynic, of course, generally expects the worst of people and events and that insulates and insures him against disappointment.

However, he also misses out on ever being genuinely excited, enthused or entertained by anything.

So, instead of being unimpressed by the whole affair, I decided to let the flame rekindle my love for the greatest sporting show on earth.

There are only 36 days to go and, after seeing the flame, my children and I will be counting down every single one.

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