Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I’ve been watching on and off the winter Olympic Games from Vancouver. The figure skating is as always amazing. Last evening I saw two Chinese couples get first and second. The grace, athleticism and skill reflected years of disciplined training, just like their gymnastic compatriats in the summer Olympics.

This Swiss are doing well, I would expect that but the commentators sound surprised.

I watched the opening ceremony. The death of a luger doing a practice run that morning rather cast a pall over the spectacle. Happy fiddling seemed inappropriate. The lighting was superb, my biggest memory.

In one of life’s ironies British Columbia, in which the city is located, has had little snow this year. The day before the games began every USA state except Hawaii had snow lying on the ground somewhere. Luckily it snowed just in time in the Whistler resort where the skiing was taking place.

Vancouver’s a pleasant city, often rated in league tables as the most liveable one in the world. It’s setting is superb, a large mountain range dominating it, and the western marine climate ensuring a reasonably temperate climate. I recall in 1990 spending a couple of nights there on our way home from Europe. The rain was pelting down. After the polluted skies we’d been experiencing this water felt clear and clean. I stood there, facing the sky drinking it in, feeling ‘I’m home’.

We’d spent a longer period there on the way over. There were grey squirrels in the parks everywhere. We went to the aquarium and watched the orca whales. (It’s since been closed). Painter Emily Carr’s exhibition of forest scenes excited our admiration. The choice of restaurants was bewildering. The bookshops were good. I felt I could live there easily.

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