Thursday, 9 August 2012

Bernie at the Olympics

Bernie is volunteering at the Olympics this week; not on public duty, but as a cleaner in the Olympic Village.  That is normally paid work, but she has been recruited to a scheme whereby her wages are donated to a charity in Uganda.

She is sleeping in the notorious workers' portakabins - nothing like the hell-holes portrayed by the press, more like youth hostel accommodation: shared, spartan, but fine.  Nonetheless, the news that that was where they were due to stay caused two of her co-volunteers to drop out before even seeing the place.

Two more dropped out after the first morning's work.  It is hard work, endlessly changing the beds, cleaning the rooms, and washing down the bathrooms of the athletes (which are rather more luxurious than her room, as you'd expect).

However, she is having a great time; we receive regular text updates, including that she has cleaned Sir Chris Hoy's room and made his bed; has met a very friendly Madagascan athlete who gave her a Madagascar badge, with which she is delighted, and most dramatically that she pulled the duvet off one bed, only to find a sleeping athlete in it!  Her text  continued: 'Awks! Never been so frightened in my life!'

So I gather she's having a fine time; and as she has her evenings free, is planning to enjoy some of the sights of London, including the Royal Academy summer exhibition.

She is trying to wangle some tickets for at least one Olympic event, so far unsuccessfully, but I'd put money on her getting to something before the week is out.

I'm pleased she's doing it - not least because our kids lead a very privileged life, and I think it is good for them to do some real hard work, and get some clue about how so many people have to work to make a living.  At her age, I used to work as a janitor and kitchen porter etc during my year off and vacations, and have long valued the people I met along the way and the whole experience of manual labour.

And there's also the aspect of having played some part in the London Olympics, as well as supporting a worthwhile charity.

1 comment:

Jonathan Marshall said...

Good stuff - well done Bernie!

But you're right Ben - people of our generation expected to do these menial jobs to earn a crust during the long summer holidays (I remember working in the dye house of a string factory in East Ardsley!)

Do youngsters (other than yours) still do such things? Mine did, but that was a few years ago.