My time as a Clydesider

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‘A life changing experience’, is something we were told during our induction. ‘Exhausting but rewarding’, ‘it’ll stay with you for a long time’ and so on. It was all a bit superlative heavy and a little bit unbelievable.

It’s been a couple of weeks since my involvement in the Commonwealth Games ended and since then I’ve been reflecting on the experience, but I’ll admit that I’ve been struggling to put my thoughts and emotions into any sort of verbiage that didn’t include many superlatives.

I kept a small journal to remind me of it and I’ve pulled some of that into this, an overly long post about my experience as a Clydesider.

Day One

What a fantastic day!! Full of nervous energy this morning, and it was a wee bit disorganised but had so much fun!

Today I was in the Support role with another two team members. Our job was to be available and help out where needed which meant we got to do a wee bit of everything!

We got shown inside the pool first, lovely venue, and then we were asked to help at the Accessible entrance, waiting for people on the shuttle buses to get through security screening then we checked and ripped their tickets then took them down to the spectator plaza.

After that we roamed around the spectator plaza, chatting to people making sure they knew where to go and just being available for the spectators. What a blast! Without realising I also got chatting to Bert Le Cloc, lovely big South African guy,

Spent about 20 mins in the pool subbing in for some people to get their breaks, then it was time to help spectators leave… then it was done!!

Feeling completely knackered and a little bit emotional to be part of this, already unforgettable and it’s only day one.

Day Two

Up at 5am and, as I headed out at 6am to get the train, a fellow Clydesider pulled up and offered me a lift! So random, but there is a real sense of ‘knowing’ whenever you see someone with a red uniform on, a nod of the head and a smile every time, it’s awesome!

Today I was positioned on the Last Mile – the route from the train station to entrance. It was a beautiful sunny morning so, with foam finger in hand, we spent a few of hours welcoming people arriving and pointing them in the right direction. A big part of the Spectator Services role is to get the excitement going so we were getting people high-fiving, or “Foam Fiving!”, cheering and laughing.

I had a good spot at a crossing so frequently had a group of people waiting for the lights to change, so much fun kidding with them… “Enjoy the hockey! Ohh wait… no, swimming!”, and everyone seemed to be in great spirits.

After my break it was back down but to a different corner, thanking people for coming and making sure they got to the train station or bus stop. More high-fives and doing our best to make sure people left with a smile on their faces!

As we were near the train station we and my partner in-crime Annie resorted to ‘Chooo Chooooo!’ calls which seemed to work!

So, not so much walking about today, but all day on my feet, definitely early to bed for me! The pattern seems to be set now. Up at 5am, train at 6.20am, walk up to security by 7am then check-in and it’s time for our morning briefing and team allocations. On to the venue by about 7.45 to get ready for the day ahead!

Starting to get to know some of the people I’m with too which is really helping make the days more fun!

Day Three 

A slightly overcast morning but still a muggy 22C or warmer so thankfully I was still outside today! My role was to check tickets at the main entrance, we got issued some snazzy pinnies to collect the ticket stubs and got ourselves set only for our team leader – the awesome Maddie who never stops smiling! – to ask if I could help the accessibility team as they needed someone to walk in front of the buggy as it made is way up through the crowds to the venue.

So off I trotted and spent my morning walking up and down a pretty steep hill, asking all the people on the path to keep to their left (or their right) getting confused on the way back down the hill as we were going against the flow and I kept forgetting to reverse my instructions, and generally thanking people and high fiving all the kids – the foam fingers are a real attraction!

Got a full break today, then back out to prepare for egress. With 5,000 people all leaving at the same time it’s our busiest period, and we wave them off with a thank you, a smile and directions to train stations and buses. Given that inside the venue is so warm, we also made sure people helped themselves to some fresh air! That got a few smiles and laughs :)

Another quick, but fun, day. My feet ache, my legs are sore, I must be drinking about 3 litres of water on my shift at the moment but I’m so so glad I’m doing this.

I think today the entire team was a bit more relaxed, still a few hiccups (the security guys have a bit of an attitude problem) but it’s just so much fun! Such a buzz!!

Day Four

Can’t believe there are only two more days to go, it’s flying in!!

Nice moment during the team brief when Ellie (SPS Manager) played a video of the reception Mike (SPS Coordinator) got at a venue meeting, everyone was cheering him because he figured out where the lights were (yeah I know), so we ended up repeating it again to film it, poor guy was mortified but played along!

Back at Plaza 10 today, on ticket duty but again I ended up roaming behind the lines trying to keep things moving, wee bit of banter with the incoming spectators and getting them on to the venue. It was a little bit wet but nothing major.

Just before the spectators started coming through, I spotted Mike coming back through the security scanners, so we quickly organised ourselves and, with one of the girls filming, gave him a great big cheer. Not quite sure what the spectators waiting in the queue thought but hey, we were having fun!

Another good day, not so much walking about which was a nice change but loving being outside, really don’t want to be inside the venue for a day! It’s also good that we are all starting to relax into what we need to do so you’ve a little more time for chatting to people and getting to know them. A few of us have been in the same team a few days now so that helps too.

Completely knackered again but actually getting used to it I think. Will be genuinely sad when this is over.

Day Five

The past few days are a blur! Can’t believe tomorrow is the last day.

Anyway, this morning kicked off with the now traditional cheer for Mike and more great feedback that we are the most upbeat venue! Hell yes!!

Was assigned to Support again today, requested anywhere but inside, and ended up mostly out on Mile 20 – guiding people inside the park to the PSA/ticket lanes. Great fun standing at the top of the hill, congratulating everyone for managing it!

A quick break and back out to see a lot of people leaving early. The 1500 metres (which takes ages) obviously wasn’t holding people’s interest so much so egress started early! Again no team lead as she was on her break so a couple of us hustled some team members into position (I totally should’ve been a team lead!).

Same drill on the way out, smiles, high fives and congratulating people coming back up the hill on the way out!! I was filmed at one point too… wonder if that’ll surface anywhere!

As the last few spectators trickled out I got chatting to some Canadians who were waiting on someone coming out, turns out it was Ryan Cochrane’s Mum & Dad (he won gold 3 days ago!) and lo and behold up the man himself sauntered! I left them to it and headed home. Already feeling a bit sad it’s soon to be over….

But…

They are looking for people on Sunday to help out in some other venues… sorely tempted!

Day Six

Weird day, so much emotion, so happy to have been part of the Games, but so sad it’s all over!

Morning briefing was fab, group photos and everyone so happy and up for it on the last day. We got to thank the team leads, and set off doing a conga out to our posts!! Yup, clearly SPS are a bunch of loons.

Anyway, asked to be outside so ended up on Mile 30, the last point before security screening. Got a shot of the megaphone, welcomed people in, soft checked tickets and pretty much had a blast, I think ‘last day’ fever set in with everyone, we all seemed to be being extra cheery, extra helpful and extra encouraging of the crowds.

As ever, lots of smiles and good chat with the spectators, and same again as yesterday on the way out, cheering people up and out of the venue and then, all of a sudden, our last shift was over!

We then had a Wrap Party in the check-in building, buffet, music and chatting to team members from both shifts. Was great to get some pics with people and reminisce about the last 6 days. We were all knackered but still smiling and laughing.

There was a chance of getting into the venue for the evening session so a few of use were hanging around, we nipped out to a local pub (the Waverley in Tollcross, pretty much as expected!) and then back in to wait and see if we got in.

Did we ever! I was in the third batch of 15 to get taken over and got straight into the VIP area! We did have to wait for Prince Edward to walk in past us mind you… Our seats were great, just below the BBC broadcast point.

What an amazing atmosphere in the venue, never been in a swimming event but wow!

And so, I’m home, my uniform is strewn across the floor and I’m exhausted and more than a little bit emotional (I’m welling up just writing this bit). I’m almost speechless, it’s been a whirlwind, full of laughter and with so many people thanking us, full of amazing energy and love and happiness. So so glad I volunteered.

And then it was over

Closing ceremony tonight, all the emotions that it’s over even though I’ve not been involved since Tuesday.

Had a fun day on Wednesday, hockey in the morning and then a wander through Glasgow in the afternoon. Caught four of the swimmers at Merchant City atop the Irn Bru store. City centre was busy but everyone seemed in such great spirits.

I’ve been trying to sum up my thoughts about my experience as a Clydesider. Life changing? Perhaps (time will tell). It was amazing, so much fun and I feel so proud to have been involved, proud of everyone who volunteered, and proud of Glasgow because, bar some rain, the whole thing seems to have been a massive success.

They are looking for volunteers for the swimming championships next year and I think I’ll apply for that, Rio Olympics and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games might be a stretch too far but my experience was so rewarding I will maybe look for something more local if I can.

So maybe, after all that, it has been life changing. Not a massive change, perhaps, but a positive one.

Thank you Glasgow 2014!

 

Glasgow 2014

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Like millions of people around the world I tuned in to watch the London Olympics and I loved every single minute of it. It was fantastic, I cheered and yelled along, shedding tears as I got caught up in the emotion and excitement, punching the air as the British athletes won medal after medal after medal. Every now and then the TV coverage would spotlight the Gamesmakers, the volunteers who smiled, laughed and danced their way through the entire thing, and I can still remember seeing them and thinking ‘I bet that was loads of fun!’.

So, when I heard that the Glasgow Commonwealth Games were looking for volunteers, I jumped at the chance to be part of something similar. I sent off my application in September 2012, had my interview in July 2013 and in September last year I was thrilled to be asked to be part of Spectator Services!

Since then I’ve attend a few training events, learned a lot about the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Games, visited the venue I’ll be working at for 6 days and have started to understand just what a massive operation it is to put on an event of this scale. I have my uniform and accreditation, I know what I will doing (and what I won’t be doing, just as important!) and I am proud to say that I am a Clydesider!

I’ve already met a lot of the people I’ll be working alongside, several of which volunteered for London 2012 and are in Glasgow to volunteer again. Chatting to them and hearing their experiences has only helped add to the excitement, I can’t wait to get started.

There are a few reasons I volunteered but it was mostly because Glasgow is my home city (I grew up in a town a few miles away); I realised this was definitely one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities, I may volunteer again but it’s unlikely it’ll be for such a major sporting event in my home city!

For the first 6 days of the Games I’m based at Tollcross International Swimming Centre, the venue for the swimming events and will be there every morning, bright and breezy! My position for the day will vary but as part of Spectator Services my job is to be the face of the Games, to smile, be helpful, respectful and polite, and do everything I can to make it a great experience for the spectators, competitors, staff, colleagues and myself!

The volunteers got invited to watch the rehearsals of the opening ceremony, I was there on Saturday night in the torrential rain, soaked to the bone but loving every minute of it. I won’t spoil the surprise(s) but I’ll admit there was a wee proud tear in my eye. I’m not massively into grand shows of patriotism, but I am very happy and proud to be Scottish and to live in Glasgow.

Roll on Glasgow 2014!

 

 

 

Writing without process

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I like to write.

I like the process of it, the act of it if you will, I enjoy the space my brain floats into when I start writing. Ever since I first used a computer there is a part of me that still marvels at the way I can watch words appear on the screen as I tap them out on a keyboard.

My approach to writing varies. Sometimes I’ll be inspired to write in response to something I’ve read or heard elsewhere. I used to do more of that, my archives are littered with one line/one paragraph responses, but for some reasons I’ve moved away from that.

Sometimes I have some vague idea of what I’ll write about before I start but rarely does it end up the way I intended, and that’s another reason I enjoy the process of writing and why it’s where I turn to when I’m trying to pull my thoughts together. That’s why this blog contains so many of my thoughts and experiences, it’s part of how I make sense of them.

Mind you, I know I am equally prone to indulging the more whimiscal side of my nature from time to time; the day dreamer who watches raindrops trace their way down a window pane. Perhaps that’s why I no longer write shorter posts, do I fancy myself a Writer? I know I love writing, words have always drawn me in, but I’ve never really pushed myself in the direction.

The other day I wondered how it would be like to not have to work any more. What would I do? I know I could fill my time, but I fear I would waste it.

Define waste. I work to live, to pay bills and be able to afford nice things and have nice experiences. Yet I constantly feel like I’m wasting time, that I could do more and live more if I didn’t have to work.

I am 40, is this at play? Am I looking far ahead and wondering why I want to do THIS for another 30 years? Not so much planning for retirement as pondering a long slow descent into the life I want. A simple life, with fewer things, easier days, working at my own pace on things I feel passionate about.

Ahhh passion, such a strange word so easily thrown around. Immediately the focus is not on one thing but many, jack of all trades and so on. Of them all this blog, or at least the act of writing posts, is still the longest running passion I have managed to maintain. Is this where I should focus?

I don’t think it is, but then I don’t know what the future holds. I conjure up another day dream of my day spent in a cafe, tapping away at the keyboard on my eagerly anticipated second novel.

Funny how I never dream of writing the first.

 

Different Journeys

The older I get the more aware I become of the truth that drives the many and varied philosophical cliches that pepper my day. They are so frequent and so subtle, and are usually delivered as a passing thought, that they barely register. But at present one seems to be stuck in my head and is becoming increasingly noticeable – the same way, I guess, that whenever you buy a new car, suddenly there are loads of them around – it’s the one about acknowledging that life is a journey and that the journey is more important than the destination.

I like to plan. At any given point in the day I’ll know what I’m doing next and likely have an approximate time in mind. This is not always a good thing (I can get a bit restless if my timings aren’t going to plan) but most of the time it helps me achieve some semblance of being a grown up.

I tell myself that this is all because I have a bad memory and if I don’t have a plan I’ll forget to do something, or forget to be somewhere. I use my calendar and to do lists heavily and, as a result, my brain is usually filled with time driven cues to help me remember to do things; ‘I’ll leave at 6pm so I’m home for 6.30pm and it’ll only take me 30mins to do the hoovering then I can …’, it sounds a bit anal I know but it’s a system that’s worked for me for a long time.

More recently I’ve been wondering if there is more to it than that. Perhaps the reason I like to plan my days and ‘near future’ weeks is because I know there isn’t much point planning that much further ahead. Even things like ‘go on holiday’ are broken down into the things to do today, and the things to do tomorrow. Beyond that I know the weeks will come towards me as they always have, and always will (that’s not meant to sound profound, just stating the facts). In other words, I know there isn’t any point planning things in great detail too soon as life will, inevitably, crap all over that nonsense whenever it gets the chance.

Oddly, the one thing I’ve never had is a plan for my life. I’m very much led by my emotions and I guess I’ve been lucky to be where I am today. Looking back there are some decisions which I would’ve made differently, of course, but I wouldn’t change them.

In the past my lack of planning was more down to how I reacted to what I thought were expectations or hopes that others were placing on me. Life seemed almost pre-ordained back then – go to college, get a job, get married, have kids – but then life started throwing some curveballs and it slowly started to sink in that while it’s good to have dreams and aspirations, and you absolutely should plan to try and meet them, life will ALWAYS throw you some curveballs. I think it’s how you deal with the curveballs that really defines who you are, not where you are, how much you earn, or what your ‘social status’ is.

It’s not been an easy, or quick, lesson for me, but the last couple of years have found me realising a lot about myself as I try and understand and empathise with others on their journey. As mine hasn’t been planned, I guess I’ve used the ‘near future’ planning to give myself a comfort zone to stop me worrying about what might happen in the months to come.

More recently, as my relationships evolve and grow, I’ve been trying to find the balance with my partners journeys, seeking out where I can help, where I should support, and where I’m not needed.

Being poly means I have to understand that everyone has a different journey and we are all at different points at different times. Not only are we different ages, but we have different jobs, different passions, different outlooks on some things. We all come from different backgrounds and places and have been through different life experiences.

Looking at where I am in my life, and where my partners are in theirs, it’s clear that whilst we are all on a similar path, we are on different journeys. It’s a subtle realisation, but I find myself changing my position at times depending on where I think one of my partners is on that given day, it’s a soft switch from ‘I will always be right beside you’ view to ‘I will always support your decisions’. One is very much based on journey proximity, the other on understanding and acceptance of our journeys being different.

Right now we are all on the same path, even if our journeys take us on little detours from time to time, we seem to be finding our way back to each other. Of all the things that polyamory has given me, this is probably one of the slowest realised but most delightful.

We are a family.