We’ve had a few days now to try and get used to life without the Olympics. It’s not easy, is it? No more of that jingoistic fervour. No more expectations being constantly fulfilled. No more feeling affronted if one of ours didn’t win a medal, of any type, in an event. “What do you mean? We enter, we win medals. I demand a recount!”
The winning habit quickly became addictive. When Tom Daley didn’t qualify for his diving finals the poor chap felt obliged to apologise to us, letting us down gently so we wouldn’t go hot-foot to our GP in search of an anti-depressant.
Even when the women’s hockey team kept the nation waiting in a nail-biting state of barely-breathing suspense for a ridiculously belated 10 o’clock News, we didn’t mind. We were thrilled, awestruck and proud. Mind you, the hockey wasn’t a bit like the game I played in distant schooldays. For instance, where were the ice puddles, the bullet-like divots of mud and the shouting PE teacher muffled inside six scarves?
What the Olympics managed to do was distract me, and doubtless many others, too, from the fact that there was absolutely nothing else happening in the country. I mean, of course, nothing apart from Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith traipsing in and out of halls whipping up support in their Labour leadership campaign. As a sideshow to the non-event of Britain in August it hasn’t been the greatest magnet for attention.
Suddenly this summer we have become like the Continent (dare I say Europe, in this post-Brexit vote era?), where all the wheels of state are dismantled and the whole country disappears on holiday, if not physically then certainly mentally.
From that extraordinary period where there was a political development approximately every four and a half minutes, come August 1st we hurtled through a curtain into oblivion – a place where we became untethered and left to our own devices.
Mrs May and her husband took off into the Swiss Alps in their sensible trousers and polo shirts, giving us all a lesson in capsule wardrobe essentials for the modern holidaying couple. Our leader’s absence caused only a passing period of hand-to-mouth terror when it was announced that Boris Johnson had been left in charge, but I believe the baton has been handed on now and all is well.
Before the month of nothingness, at that time when anything and everything was happening at the speed of light, familiar faces were being expunged from our political landscape and new ones were emerging from the deep, like young shoots breaking the surface, and being introduced to the nation as Minister for Something Important. Inexplicably, my phone didn’t ring with a request for my urgent attendance in Downing Street, but I was prepared to be persuaded. Minister for Country Walks would have been a nice gig. Maybe next time.
The political landscape changed with such rapidity that when the music stopped and everyone took off on their summer break to read biographies and start writing their own, those of us left behind could only look around and say “Did all that really happen?”
Indeed it did. It was quite remarkable to witness the daily re-writing of history, but now we face the start of a new term, a new page in the life story of GB, and while the political commentators sharpen their pencils and their tongues, we can but hold tight for the ride – and be sustained by those glittering memories of Rio 2016.