Those who can, stand up and be counted.

There is one good thing about being made redundant this summer, and that is that I have been able to watch so much of the Olympics and Paralympics. And these occasions, along with the major international football tournaments, are really the only time I am interested in sport.

With the Paralympics coming to an end tonight, the closing ceremony will mark the signing off of a great summer of sport for this country. But I am not writing about that this time. It is the Paralympians themselves that I want to write about.

I grew up in an era where words like “spaz” and “flid” were not seen as derogatory as they so obviously are. They were just words used against those who got a question wrong in class, or did something stupid in the playground and I am sure that some of my teachers used them as well. I don’t think any thought was given to what they truly meant or who they really represented.

WRONG!

You betcha.

Questions are being asked about the legacy of the Paralympics.  Questions like has it made us more aware of people with disabilities? Has it made us more tolerant and will the swell of loveliness that we have been riding due to the Paralympics, continue with us being more compassionate after the sport euphoria has died down, and London returns to its usual pattern?

I hope so, because I have been truly humbled by what these athletes have achieved and take my hat off to them because they are absolutely bloody marvellous! They have made me laugh with their humour and characters, made me cry and made me gasp in amazement watching them. I really think that the Paralympics absolutely deserve to be as hyped up as the main Olympics; they are just as important and I have loved watching them.

I want to make sure that I never forget the respect I have for these people because watching them makes me ask myself what is normal, what is a disability? These folks are doing things that I could never do and have proven to me that whatever problems they have/are facing, be it mental or physical, they have pushed through and continue to push through so many barriers to be where they are today.

However, I don’t want my respect to be reserved just for these athletes. I need to continue to remember the many, many people out there with the same health problems, the same barriers to break, because I will pass them in the street, be on public transport with them, stand in a queue behind them in the shops and work with them in the office environment. I need to remember patience, if they are not as quick as I am at something, or can’t get on or off a bus quickly, because I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and I have no more rights than they have.

I hope these games will have given hope to anyone who has any kind of disability who think they have no future, because look at what this lot have achieved! That could be you in four years time! And even if you don’t take up any kind of sport, know that you can still do so much, you should not think you are invisible or useless, because if you think you are, then so am I.

London 2012

So, we did it.

We pulled it off.

Many said we couldn’t.

Many said we wouldn’t

They were silenced.

Those who know me well, know of my love affair with London. There is no rhyme or reason and I can’t explain it. London has held a fascination for me since I was a child and was the shining place we would visit from time to time when I was growing up in the country.

There were lots of people who were against us hosting the Olympics. They said it would not work, our infrastructure would not be able to cope and it would be a disaster. After Beijing 2008, I read a lot of comments from overseas people who said they would boycott London 2012 because they hate the English, our weather would be foul, we would be rude and unhelpful, London was a horrible city etc.

Well, we proved them wrong didn’t we folks? Even the weather behaved for the most part!

London rises up and dusts herself off after whatever has been thrown at her. Even the next day after it was announced we had been selected to host the games, we had the atrocities of 7th July. Did that stop us? No it did not. We picked ourselves up and carried on. We always have done and always will do.

This time last year, we were reeling from the August riots and again, people worried about how we would cope with the Olympics. Did that or the threat of a possible terrorist attack stop us? Again, no, it did not.

This great, beast of a city organised a party, and what a magnificent party! The opening and closing ceremonies were eclectic, eccentric and truly British. Some of you won’t have liked them, and that is fine! I loved them. The city was shown off in all her glory with iconic venues being used and London shone.

We were treated to some magnificent performances by the athletes, both from home and abroad. We connected with and supported TeamGB when they won a medal or even if they were unlucky, we felt they were like our own family in some cases because we cried when they cried and cheered when they did. In fact, we cheered and supported EVERYBODY from everywhere and if there had been a roof on the stadium, then it would have surely been lifted by the cheers.

I can’t begin to imagine the hard work, dedication and sacrifices that these athletes go through to reach the ultimate goal of appearing at an Olympic Games and hopefully winning a medal; it is the pinnacle of their career. Let us not forget though, that whilst we admire these people, we must also cheer and support those that are going to compete in a couple of weeks time in the Paralympics. Their achievements are just as important, more so in many cases.

I won’t go into the security fiasco that happened right before the start, because quite frankly, that company has had enough publicity already thank you and was a bloody embarrassment. Suffice to say, that the armed forces stepped in and performed magnificently. They and the police had an important job to do, but they did it with a smile on their faces. The infrastructure managed, much more than anyone said it would and the few times I went into central London, there were no problems on any of the forms of public transport I used.

And of course, our wonderful army of Volunteers! Without them, it wouldn’t have happened. They, the Games Makers did it and they all deserve gold medals for the sheer amount of dedication, long hours and bloody hard work each and everyone of them put into their experience. I salute you!

And how wonderful it was to snatch the flag back from the those groups that would seek to destroy us? Ha! How we waved the Union Flag and it felt good to see so many people walking around, wearing it in every way shape and form and know they are not a member those of dark, diseased groups. You don’t belong in 21st Century London/Britain. Please know that, once and for all.

So, world, what do you say? Did we manage it, was it a success, do you see us in a new or different light? It is a simple answer so say it: YES!

Think this is too stupidly patriotic? Jingoistic? Maybe, but I make no apology to you if you feel that; my blog, my rules.

Despite another city holding a very special place in my heart, I have to say this:

London, you truly are #thegreatestcityintheworld.