Gamesmaker London 2012

October 10, 2012

This topic is probably not topical now, yet the experience of being an Olympic and Paralympic Gamesmaker had such an impact on me and others that it feels relevant to me, maybe it’s part of this Olympic legacy that I keep hearing about? For twenty five days I lived in a tent, firstly at a rugby club in Wanstead then another one in Eltham whilst I worked at Greenwich Park as part of the very small CCW team. I wish I could claim it was a glamorous role however CCW stands for Catering Cleaning and Waste. I spent my days monitoring everything from the toilets, litter, bins and how the catering concessions were operating. I also spent my lunch times educating the work force on how to stream the waste. In-between this I was, as was every other Gamesmaker directing and assisting the general public. It’s very hard to describe the intensity of the experience, every day from the moment that I put my purple and red uniform on I became public property, and it was wonderful! With every journey to Greenwich I was greeted with smiles, asked questions about my role and Greenwich. I was also asked for directions no matter where I was, which at times was quite terrifying as I’m not a Londoner and my knowledge only extends to places I’ve been to, if I remember them properly that is. I strongly suspect that I helped some people get more lost. I fell in love with Olympic London and I hope that it hasn’t lost the spirit completely.

I remember at one of my training sessions talking to a lady who wasn’t happy at being chosen to be part of the CCW team she was a teacher and she felt that her talents weren’t being utilised properly, she was surprised when I told her that I had specifically volunteered for the role, but then I explained to her that I was a school caretaker and I knew I could do the job, also I thought that less people would volunteer for this role and that my chances of being chosen would be better by volunteering for what some would see as a menial role. The thing is it didn’t turn out to be a menial role, we were the eyes and ears of the three paid staff, we worked closely with them, the cleaners and caterers. There was friction in the first week as standards were set high and there was resistance to this but we were all determined to do well. Greenwich was voted best venue and so much of that is down to the paid staff as much as the environment itself, the gamesmakers and the enthusiastic spectators and athletes.

I have to confess I have been on what is called a downer since I have gone back to my menial job (school caretaker). Being a school caretaker or a cleaner for most people means doing a hard job for poor pay with little or no recognition, you are in fact practically invisible.Every year at Christmas and in July at the end of the year parents bring in presents and flowers for the teachers and all the support staff etc but not the cleaners or the caretakers for that matter (there is of course the occasional exception).

A lot of the cleaners hired at Greenwich were young locals as well as some young Hungarians and Portuguese and initially their enthusiasm levels were nearly at zero, they didn’t see the point in what they were doing and they were resentful at the meniality of their allotted roles, but as a team we talked and cajoled (and yes complained) and praised them and eventually we became an us. I confess there were lots of tears shed on the last day. I have been so lucky to have been picked to be a Gamesmaker and privileged to have been on the Greenwich CCW team, and to have been allowed to play my small part.

So for me in my purple and red to receive so much praise from random people in the street let alone when I was in Greenwich working was simply an amazing experience, to not be invisible just for that short space of time and to make sure others not in the uniform felt appreciated was an experience I will always treasure. Like all good things it had to end but I hope the spirit can carry on in some form, maybe you could notice the invisible workers and send them a smile 🙂


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Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy


Lady things, explained.


"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

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