They say that the Olympics is a power for good, bringing people of the world together. And so it was in Waddon this lunchtime, as two cultural icons met for the first time: Sir Patrick Stewart, Captain Jean-Luc Pickard from Star Trek, and the Croydon Flyover.
The Hollywood actor was politely mobbed by locals as a 2012 Olympic Torch Relay mini-bus dropped him off at the top of the flyover spur road, ready, his personal 200-quid torch in hand, to await the precious flame and take it onwards for the final stage of the morning’s jog through Croydon to St Andrew’s School.
“I’m quite nervous really,” said the knight of the stage who has had thousands of top-billing performances on the stage behind him, as well as headlining in blockbuster movies such as the X Men series.
“Everyone else has run with it already this morning, now it’s just up to me.”
It would be wrong to overstate the crowds that had gathered towards the end of today’s Croydon relay route by Duppas Hill. Spectators lining the road were one deep.
But Sir Patrick was suitably kind and obliging for every mother who wanted him to pose with their baby and the torch, and he was accommodating to a local TV crew.
Before very long, a loud PA system on a sponsors’ truck drowned out all other sound, as models threw pieces of inflated branded plastic out to the roadside. This was followed by the lorry of another sponsor which only seemed to spew out pollution. The corporate London 2012 Olympics, the greenest Games ever, apparently.
And then came the torch runner, a grey-haired chap in his 50s, maybe 60s, apparently someone from West Wickham, who chugged his way up the hill – surely one of the least glamorous of all the relay legs – and smiled broadly as he caught glimpse of his celebrity relay team mate.
Flame duly exchanged, and Sir Patrick was off, smiling benignly despite being reminded yet again of a “catchphrase” from a TV role he has not acted in for nearly 20 years. He might have been thinking “Beam me up, Scotty.” Or maybe not. Perhaps it’s a Star Trek generational thing.
And then it was over. The flame moved on. Let the Games begin.
- Send us your pictures from the Torch Relay in Croydon. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Torch bearer’s tattoo misspells “Olympic” (telegraph.co.uk)
- Olympic Torch will take the Tube… flame goes by public transport around London (standard.co.uk)
- Doreen Lawrence: I’ll carry flame for my son (standard.co.uk)