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Postcard from London: Purple Patch
GOLD might be the colour most readily associated with the Olympics, but here in London, the predominant hue is purple. Everywhere you turn, every street you go down, there are purple-clad volunteers waiting to assist.
At the Olympic Park itself, they sing, dance, and wish you a happy day. At stations right across London, they issue instructions, point out directions and advise about the best train to take. In the heart of the city, far away from the actual Games venues, they chat to tourists in an attempt to enhance their Olympic experience.
In truth, they don't always know what they're on about. I've already been misdirected more times than I'd care to remember and had to trek around venues desperately trying to find the right way in. Mind you, I've also done that at plenty of football grounds up and down the country, and they've been in the same place for decades.
The great thing about the volunteers here in London is that they've constantly got a smile on their face.
They want to help and want to represent their city. They know that regardless of what happens once the sport begins, many people's view of the Olympics will be coloured by their ability to get around and see what they want to see.
Yesterday, I travelled from one end of the three-day-event course at Greenwich Park to the other on the back of a golf buggy being driven by a 21-year-old volunteer called Karen.
She is a student at Sheffield Hallam University and she's given up her summer holiday in order to spend two weeks volunteering at the Games, a commitment that also meant two full weeks of training prior the start of the Olympics.
She was working from 10am in the morning until 8pm at night, and wasn't being paid a penny. Yet she couldn't have been happier with her Olympic shifts so far.
“It's been brilliant,” she said. “Everyone's just so happy to be here and it feels like the eyes of the whole world are on Britain.
“It's quite hard work, and I'm having to stay away from home, but if I wasn't doing this, I'd only be spending a load of money in Ibiza or somewhere like that.
“This isn't going to happen again is it? I'm never going to compete in an Olympics and I probably wouldn't have got any tickets in the draw, so this is the next best thing.”
It is that kind of spirit that is driving this Olympics on. Yes, there have been teething problems, but there were always going to be when it came to organising an event on this scale.
With a smile and a point in the right, and occasionally wrong, direction, Britain's Olympic volunteers are keeping the show on the road. By the end of this fortnight, they'll deserve a medal for their efforts.
LEAVING Stratford Station, you have to pass across a bridge to reach the main route into the Olympic Park.
On the sides of the bridge, there are a host of pictures from the torch relay that travelled the length and breadth of the country in the build-up to the Games.
Bang in the middle is an image of the torch being carried on a zip wire on the River Tyne and another of it in close proximity as the Ripon Hornblower blows his horn.
The Olympics might be taking place at the opposite end of the country, but it's nice to know that a little bit of the North-East and North Yorkshire has come along for the ride.
I'VE seen plenty of dignitaries on my Olympic travels so far. The Queen popped into the Aquatic Centre on the opening morning of competition, while the Obamas have been regular visitors on an evening to cheer the American swim team on.
But the loudest cheers I've heard came at the cross-country course yesterday as the giant TV screens showed pictures of Prince William and Kate supporting Zara Phillips.
The pair are likely to be back today as the three-day event concludes with the show-jumping phase. Get ready for some right royal celebrations if Great Britain win a team gold.