Everyone reading this will be familiar with the outrage perpetrated on the games recently organised in our nation's capital. No-one could excuse or condone the perpetrators of this action and I am not attempting to do so here. However, I have spent some months investigating the events in question and in interviewing key players, including the person who I have good reason to believe was primarily responsible for this appalling act. I think readers might find some additional insight into these events useful, and therefore present some small extracts from my conversations to date.
It was the biggest security operation in the nation's history, apparently, and they covered pretty much every angle. Well, they put a bloody helicopter carrier in the river, surface to air missiles on the rooftops – what on earth for, no-one could never quite work out – and, of course, they'd deployed the army – or what little of it wasn't actually off killing foreigners – all over the place. It all looked very military and probably scared the shite out of all the visitors for whom a soldier was more often an object of terror than a source of alleged national pride.
None of it mattered a damn, of course. Given a bit of common sense and some careful planning you can get around virtually any security precautions: The trick is to work in effective isolation – so there's no 'chatter' for the 'spooks' to pick up on – and to approach from left field. Explosives and guns? Planes and poisons? They'd covered them, of course, but...
Well, we didn't need them, did we? After all, we had a healthy imagination and a well developed sense of the absurd. And abusrdity, of course, is the one thing guaranteed to befuddle the official mind.
Chief Superintendent Richardson
Yeah, there was tension. 'Course there was tension ... always is, run up to a big event. And events don't get much bigger, we'd had our very public issues as far as staffing was concerned – I don't really need to get into that here – and as a result we had a fair number of people around who hadn't been trained specifically, few of them with experience of dealing with the public – and most of whom were trained killers.
On the other hand, an event is an event – and at least for this one we hadn't had to beg steal and borrow the equipment we needed. Quite the reverse: Our bronze control room – the stadium level co-ordination centre – was a high tech masterpiece. We had CCTV access to every area of the venue – yes, including the pump room – and we had data feeds from just about every system functioning around the place.
Didn't matter a damn in the event, of course.
Polly the Pool
I do pool maintenance, its my job. Maybe there's a Uni somewhere does a degree in it by now, I wouldn't know, but I've had 20 years in the business and I'm pretty good at it. Maybe that's why I got the job, y'know? Looking after the water for all the Big Important People – the swimmers – none of whom should ever have known I existed.
No, I'm not bitter – it's a fact, people don't notice the technical people. Same goes if you're working in a leisure pool, hotel, Major International Sports ... you do a good job, any case. It helps to care, it helps to know you've done it right.
And, yeah, that's why I was personally adjusting the pH, last thing at night, day before the Big Day.
Hell, we didn't expect to be popular. That was not, after all, the point. The Popular Front for the Liberation of wherever – none of whom tend to be all that popular, of course – have a constituency, a demographic, to which they ostensibly appeal. We didn't – not that we were entirely solipsistic, we did have a point or two to make, an ambition, perhaps. But we weren't trying to inspire – or comfort – the masses.
Maybe we objected to the enrichment and near deification of people who could just run round in circles really quickly, maybe we objected to all the excess carbon dioxide being generated by a supposed 'sporting festival' – and don't get me started on the sponsors – or maybe we just wanted to cock a snook at the securitats.
Actually, that last was definitely a plus, but mainly we did it because it was fun. And we did risk a long time in prison for so much as thinking about this ... even if we were always careful not to hurt a single human being...
Chief Superintendent Richardson
The Opening Ceremony went really well. I mean, minor problems with queues – you remember the Millennium Dome? – a couple of small thefts and an accident or two but generally, it was a complete triumph. From our point of view, I mean – luckily I didn't have to watch the rubbish the 'creatives' came up with...
Sorry. I'll stay on topic. So. Yes, anyway, we had a good night, no problems, all the systems worked – better than I would have dared to hope – and, well, things went well. So we relaxed, a bit, had a slightly more informal debrief than we might have done otherwise.
I'm sorry, when I said informal I didn't mean casual. We discussed what needed to be discussed – its all on a file somewhere, I'm sure – but we didn't move into the meeting room, so we did have all the screens.
And, so, yes, I probably did witness events in the pool, in the velodrome, on the main field. All I can say – and I've watched them many times over – is that there was not one thing in any of them that was in any way untoward.
The name? Oh, mainly an ancient nickname – I used to spend a lot of time training as a kid, had a track suit on a fair bit as a consequence, then I got this job and...
My actual job? I'm Chief Track Technologist for MegaSports Inc – I oversee development and installation of the quickest, most reactive running and athletic tracks in the world. We supplied the stadium, after which I volunteered for secondment to the games, looking after the product for the duration. Seemed like fun to me, a good investment for MegaSports, so – a win, win really.
And, yes, I was looking forward to it: I've installed these things in stadia around the world, never, ever had a problem with a single instance, so ... yes, I was looking forward to a bit of a jolly, to be honest.
We set it up, we let it roll. Its all in the planning, see? A couple of my compadres went off to an island in the South Pacific, chosen because there wasn't so much as a bar with satellite TV, another took a boat out into the Atlantic. Me? Well, that would be telling, but I took a tent and went somewhere I couldn't even get a radio signal. And I got there by bus, too – so no excess carbon footprint on my conscience, either.
But all of us, I'm sure, just got on with our lives. I mean, what's done is done and all that, yeah?
Polly the Pool
Next morning, I was up about 5am. Not a lot of sleep – I'd got home not four hours before – but, then, I never really expected to sleep at this stage and we were all, frankly, expecting public transport to go tits up, so...
So I was up and already getting my stuff together when my phone rang, Or, actually, my special, secure games phone. Which, to be honest, I thought was either (i) a mistake or (ii) some sort of intentional but bollocks update from one or more of our security / technical / organisational overlords.
What I really didn't expect would be that it would actually be a personal call for me. And never in a million years would I have anticipated what I was immediately told...
Chief Superintendent Richardson
I have a uniformed job, a job which requires me to wear a uniform: It reassures the public, it allows easy identification by colleagues, staff and and such like, none of which, I'm sure you needed me to explain.
I was, therefore, in the process of looking for my hat – we have an enthusiastic au pair – when I got the call.
No, on my non-work, non-games mobile, if it matters. My colleague Tom – Chief Inspector McMillan – who'd been O/C overnight called me directly. On my personal phone – not that he'd got more than a couple of sentences out before the other phones started chirping or bleeping or whatever.
Only by that time, I wasn't listening – not to the phones, not even to Tom. I was wondering what the fuck was going on ... and then I cut them all off and made a call of my own – car driver, lights and siren ... NOW!
Like I said, planning. Yes, we 'penetrated' security, but not in the conventional sense. To this day I've never set foot in the games 'park' and none of my colleagues spent more than a couple of days there, working on construction teams, mainly to get a feel for the place. What we did, we did elsewhere – vast quantities of stuff gets supplied to a gig this size, most of it arriving by the pallet load in anonymous trucks. We assumed that it would all be checked – explosive sniffer dogs or something altogether higher tech – but we also realised that the sheer scale of the operation meant that that had to be a fairly token effort. And, anyway, we weren't shipping in explosives or anything similar – in one case we were actually substituting a pretty much harmless liquid for an altogether more dangerous one and, frankly, no-one's going to pick that up.
Of course, it was kinda crucial that we had the sort of net penetration that we did, given that stock control – our control of our stock, I mean – was the essential element in our cunning plan. But even that proved to be a cinch, again because everyone was looking the other way. I mean, if we'd tried to reprogramme the scoreboards or whatever to deliver a witty and apposite message – FOAD, perhaps – something tells me that we wouldn't have got far. But, again, we weren't doing anything of the sort – and the logistical systems were simply not anyone's priority, security wise.
Well, maybe that was something of a gamble – given that we discovered a couple of ways to disconnect the electricity supply to the whole site, more or less by accident while we were poking around – I guess in retrospect that someone should have been paying attention to that sort of thing. As it turned out, though, they weren't – and we got the payout, didn't we?
Polly the Pool
The pool was set. Not like a stage set, not even in the sense of being 'all set to go'. Or actually, it was all set and there were definitely theatrical elements to the scene when I arrived hotfoot and panting that morning. For a start, most of my technical crew and a rapidly growing number of security types were gathered around the pool side, all looking shell shocked, outraged and/or generally, well, stunned. I mean, there are always things that can go wrong, but on the first morning of the biggest sporting event in...
You really don't expect to get to work and find that your pool has set solid. Like a monstrous jelly. Solid. All three thousand cubic fucking metres of the thing ... just solid. And completely useless, of course – unless you invented a whole new sport: Olympic jelly surfing, perhaps?
It was a bit traumatic, all right – what with the main event due to start in about three hours – but then there was clearly nothing we could do about it. OK, so some of the crew were spooning out samples and talking urgently about chemical analyses and such good things, while our friends in uniform clearly just wanted to shoot someone or something. Not that that would have done a huge amount of good in the circumstances. As for me, I sat down on the poolside and prodded my erstwhile pride and joy with a corporately trainered foot. It wobbled. The whole bloody thing wobbled, just like a trifle at a five year old's birthday party. And despite myself, I started to laugh.
And as I did, the whole damn' pool wobbled in time ... and I laughed even harder...
Look, I wrote the procedures: Last thing we do – always have done with this grade of track – is to give them a spray with a finisher.