(This Post was written by Susannah Jayes, Picture Editor and writer from London and contributor to my blog. Susannah has also written Magenta Magicians, and A Canterbury Tale.)
MAGENTA MAGICIANS – THE RETURN
It’s summer, so London must be turning pink again! Following on from the 2012 Olympics, the London Ambassadors are back (by popular demand!). In all, around 1000 of the volunteers who served during the London Olympics were back in their distinctive pink uniforms – updated for this year in a new yet equally loud shade of magenta – located at around a dozen popular tourist spots across the capital. London Mayor Boris Johnson was very keen to build on the legacy of the Olympic Games and under the banner ‘Team London’, many of us – including myself – joined up again to provide a warm welcome and hopefully useful information to visitors from across the world.
As readers of this blog may know, I was part of the Flying Squad last year and really enjoyed my time at the Olympic Stadium and elsewhere. This year, I was back in the Flying Squad (still no helicopters, alas!), but this time I was stationed mainly in the bustling piazza at Covent Garden – site of the original flower market, (which incidentally appeared in the film My Fair Lady with the lovely Audrey Hepburn). Before the flower market, many hundreds of years ago it was the location for a garden for a convent – hence the name.
I also made a brief flying visit to help my team-mates at Picadilly Ciricus. Once again the camaraderie was fantastic and the questions I was asked were many and varied – ranging from “Where can I find a Summer Pudding for my lunch?” to “I’ve lost my boyfriend – can you help?”. I am pleased to say that I was able to direct the lady to a fine restaurant nearby that offered Summer Pudding on its menu (after some Internet research), but the problem of the lost boyfriend was slightly more tricky, involving phone calls and emails to her fiancée via Chile! The outcome was somewhat uncertain, but I do hope she managed to find him in the end!
Covent Garden, as you may know, is always a hive of activity, with many street entertainers and crowds of people flocking around the many market stalls. I got to know some of the street stall-holders, including the magic man nearby, who sold magic tricks and paraphernalia. There were also many things going on, including beach volleyball (with real sand), and many TV camera crews doing filming for various shows – maybe you’ll see me on the Discovery Channel – I’m the one in pink in the background – you can’t miss me!
I had a great time again meeting so many people from across the globe and they seemed to be genuinely delighted that we were there to help. Even if we couldn’t always give the exact information they needed, we were, I hope, always polite and smiling and the visitors seemed to really appreciate that. I am sure we will all be back next year, so please do keep any eye out for us if you are in London in 2014. We are there to help!