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And this is important, the number of shifts I had left was diminishing, only 4 more. This was not a good feeling as I waited at the station for my early morning train.

But that didn’t stop me from looking forwards to today. It had been 24 hours since my last shift, where I watched the 100 metres final, and although today would be an early morning shift, I was eager to find out what the day had in store for us.

This morning was cool, well cold if I am honest, and I had to wear my Olympic jacket at the station whilst I waited for my train to arrive. Still more Gamesmakers and tourists on the trains and tubes, and even more tourists would follow us off the tube at our stop, rather than listen to the announcements.

Olympic fever had taken over London and the country, and everyone was happy when I arrived at the Olympic park. Lots of megaphones, huge pink hands, and happy smiling faces. I tipped what was left of my water down a storm drain and made my way through the security checkpoint into the park.
Again this morning the park was heaving with spectators and Gamesmakers, and it was buzzing. Lots of excitement today. This was a key point, the London 2012 Olympics had instilled a very real sense of fun, togetherness and competition into the UK, everybody wanted to be a part of it, each individual was important, and this was something I would see again today.

I proceeded without hassle through the Gamesmaker check in, again, virtually empty, oh and for those of you wondering, still no sign of my hat! As I pointed out earlier, it was a chilly morning today, so no need for sun tan lotion as I picked up my booty. The rice crispy cakes were a tasty breakfast snack but they would let us only have one each, which i suppose was a good thing really!
I picked up my cup of coffee, noting that more Gamesmakers were in the canteen this morning, and made my way past the flame to our office. I say this because it was nice to view the flame, listening to it burn in the stillness of the early morning, long before many others would turn up.
I had heard stories from colleagues and friends of early shift starting times, but yet each morning when I arrived there would only be handfuls there. Not sure where the rest were each day, perhaps they were hiding?

I walked into the office with a cheery good morning to all, and had a quick look around for my hat. Still no sign, I was resigned to not seeing it again which was a shame, but I would cope, I think.

Another quick start, I finished my coffee and by 8am we were performing our rounds. The spectators were beginning to filter into the arena, and there were Gamesmakers manning the checkpoints, making sure we had all the correct levels of passcard. Which was fine, a good thing, but did mean that on occasion the routes we were taking would be off-limits. Particularly the athletes areas, for which we required an upgrade pass. This was not a problem, we had access to the upgrade passes when we needed them. However sometimes we would forget especially when we weren’t visiting those areas, but merely passing through, which often meant a longer walk around the area, or a trudge back to the IT office to pick up and upgrade pass.
And this was another important thing. These Gamesmakers were possibly some of the unluckiest of the lot. They were part of the Olympic stadium team but were tasked with manning checkpoints, and not the ones outside with the public, or even the ones at the entrances to the park or the stadium. These Gamesmakers manned internal checkpoints, the ones used to restrict passage to the athletes areas, or the media and press areas, and even sometimes the lifts. And they sat there, only 10 metres away from the action, they could hear it, but couldn’t see it, even on TV screens. These Gamesmakers were doing what I joked I would be doing, except instead of watching lights on a router or server, they were checking the passes of individuals passing through, not quite in a basement, but not outside either.
So I made sure that I and my fellow Gamesmakers and colleagues always spoke to them, always took time for a chat and to recognise what they were doing. They didn’t seem to mind doing their roles, and I hope that they felt a little more appreciated when we took the time to recognise them.

We completed our rounds, everything was ok this morning, and made our way back to the IT office.
We had been warned about the long periods of time we would spend cooped up in our IT office, told to bring books and alternative things to do, watching the TVs and the live streams in the IT office would be as much as we would see of the events.

But this was no longer correct, things had changed!
As you know so far we had been able to watch some of the events on Sunday night, and I got to watch the final of the 100 metres final. So would it be the same today we wondered? Would we be split up into groups to man our IT desks on the tribunes, next to the press and media, for parts of the day?


Today would change again. Today we would be split up into groups, one group responsible for the upper tribunes, and one group responsible for the lower tribunes. And what about our shifts? We didn’t have any, we would be out there for the entire time, from the first event to the last event of the morning.
I pinched myself again, to make sure I was awake. Not only did we have practically the free run of the Olympic Stadium, but today, I would be sitting outside, watching the events (and waiting for any faults of course) in some of the best seats in the stadium. This was going to be a good day.

I picked up a slot in the lower tribunes this morning, and we made our way up there. It was cool out there in the stadium and I was pleased I had my jacket.
Relatively quiet on the faulting front, we sat watching the events and checking the systems, we could interrogate the media information system from here, finding out details about the athletes, their previous best times and more. We also had a range of live feeds from the TV cameras that we could watch. We were having a great time.
But it was cold, and although we were in our Gammesmaker jackets, we were still chilly. Luckily though, as we were in the press and media areas, we also had access to the complimentary beverages, which included free tea and coffee, and that was welcome this morning, as I nipped off to make a few cups, bringing them back for the rest of the team. Delicious and warm, we were lucky Gamesmakers.

We saw some fantastic events during the day, but soon enough our time would come to an end. We couldn’t believe it, all of a sudden it was after 12 and the events finished. But we didn’t of course, after a quick cursory check for any faults in the area, we were back down to the IT office before being dispatched for lunch.
On return from lunch we were back up and around the stadium, checking machines and replenishing stocks of spare screens and PCs to our squirrel stores near to the lower and upper tribune areas, ready in case we needed them in a rush.
We also spent some time in the stores too, not been there for a few days, but this afternoon we took some time tidying it all up again, starting to get ready for when it would be needed again for removal of the equipment. Another reminder that we only had a few days left to go.

And then our shift came to an end, and we handed over the baton to the evening crew. If they too were going to sit outside they were in for a treat tonight, some fantastic events were scheduled, lucky lot!


Ok, so not for a while yet.

We arrived back at the office, and settled down for a while. It was past 6pm now, and the public had once again been let into the stadium. Soon the evening events would begin, but not for a while yet, so we had a little chance to relax and catch up with a few bits and pieces.

It was time for our evening briefing and we were advised about the evening events, the number attending tonight (a full house, all 80,000 seats filled) and just what we were to expect as we moved around the stadium.
The highlight of the nights events would be the 100 metres final, it was going to be huge, with worldwide media coverage again and we had to be on our best behaviour!

So we settled down for the evening, and although we couldn’t watch the events live from the stadium, we would be able to keep in touch with what was going on upstairs/outside via the screens and PCs we had in the IT office.
And that was it for the evening. The end. We stayed in there all night, no faults came in, and then when it had finished we made our way home.

Ok, not quite, wouldn’t be much of a story now would it, if it ended like that!

So this is what really happened.

The first bit was correct, we settled down for the evening and fired up the PCs and TV screens so we could watch the events, not expecting much to happen if we were honest. Were we in for a surprise!

Our view of the evening started to change shortly after competition began and we were informed that there would be a shift in how we would operate. It was agreed that we needed to be able to react quickly if there were any faults raised on the tribunes, and as our route to them was getting more difficult to traverse (more people to get past, meaning slower response times) it had been agreed that we would operate from a couple of IT fast response desks in both the lower and upper tribunes. As these were the areas most likely to require any fault fixing quickly, it would be an ideal location to operate from. Both desks were set up with equipment too, so we could also keep an eye on the main systems from there, useful for fault finding. We also had some spare equipment stored in secure locations on each of the floors, meaning that we could replace things quickly if required. These areas were also highly restricted, so we would be able to get to faults quickly as there were less people here.

What would it mean for us tonight though we wondered?

Our IT manager set about arranging us into groups, asking for volunteers from the Gamesmakers, Acer and Atos people for each slot in the tribunes, as he felt that it would be a good idea if we were put into little shifts rather than just one long shift . I thought about this. It is not often that I do think, but in the back of my mind, I remembered the scheduled slot for the 100 metres final was towards the end of the evenings events. So I sat quietly as the others volunteered, and waited my turn, along with an Acer colleague, who smiled knowingly. And all of a sudden there was just the last slot left, and a handful of us left to fill it, result, it looked like I might, just might get to see the final of the 100 metres!

I watched as the others left the IT office and took up their slots in the tribunes, listening intently to their stories of what happened whilst they were up there when they returned to hand over. Remember that we could hear the noise from the crowds in our IT room, we were only about 10 feet away from it after all! It sounded awesome, the noise and the stories, and the atmosphere. I was starting to get a little bit excited.

My slot in the tribunes was scheduled to start at 9pm, and time soon ticked on until it was time for us to go up. Our IT manager waved us on up with a smile, informing us that it was time to replace the other shift.

We made our way up to the tribunes, emerging from the lift we walked to the entrance of the seating area of the stadium. The noise and atmosphere was immense, this was the first real time I had the chance to witness the arena full to bursting, cheering, clapping, shouting encouragement. It was an awesome sight.
We arrived at our IT desk in the lower tribunes, one of the best spots out there, armed with paper, pens, water and big grins. The team we replaced gave up their slots, they had witnessed some fantastic sport so far, so we knew we would be in for a treat.

Our view from our desk on the lower tribunes.

Our view from our desk on the lower tribunes.

We settled down and made ourselves comfortable. The management team responsible for the tribunes checked to make sure we were who we said we were, as they needed to ensure that only the correct people were stationed in the tribunes. Often members of the public and some of the press would try and get into areas they weren’t meant too, so the tribune management team had their hands full. I did check with them and they were confident that we were stationed exactly where we should be. Handily it had a fantastic view of the final straight, we were almost right opposite the finish line. You couldn’t afford to pay for these seats even if they were available to buy!

We monitored the systems and watched some of the events, and time ticked on.

All of a sudden one of the tribune management team rushed over shouting “we need IT support”. I was keen to join in, so leapt up from my seat, along with an Acer colleague, and we then followed the tribune management person through the crowds of press, over the wiring, around the cameras to the desk reporting a fault. The screen was dead, so we quickly checked it and decided that a PC reboot would be a good logical next step, we were in a rush and wanted to get it working ASAP. The chap using the screen was also keen, partly because he was reporting live on a radio station somewhere, and had to lean over to another screen to see what was going on, so we worked quickly and quietly, and within a couple of minutes we had the system back up and running, and the chap could sit back in his own chair and see the results from his own screen. He and his colleague smiled, and he hardly missed a beat as he continued his commentary of the race. Proper professionals these peeps!
We walked back to our station, kicking out some squatters who had camped on our seats (the tribune management team weren’t too happy with them either, and promptly frogged marched them out of our area!) and settled back down, ready and waiting for the next call to action!

The rest of our slot was relatively quiet, we did have another call to action, but I let the others deal with that one, didn’t want them to miss out on some of the fun too!

Time ticked on, and soon it would be time for the 100 metres final, and little did we know but we were in for something awesome that we would never forget. We had been joined at our posts too, by our IT manager with a big grin on his face. He was turning out to be a really top bloke.

The announcements came over the audio system, and the large screens around the arena proclaimed the start of the 100 metres final. The noise in the arena started to build as the athletes took to the track. And then they started to announce the names of the athletes.
Each one got a cheer that could deafen you. Until…..

Usain Bolt
His name was announced, and his picture was shown on the huge screens. It was almost a fingers in the ear job as the noise from the spectators threatened to destroy the arena. And he played to it too! Loving every minute.

A hush descended on the arena as the athletes prepared themselves on the start line. And I pinched myself, I really did, I was about to witness a race between the fastest people in the world only about 20 metres away from where I was sitting, something I would never see again.
Oh and hang on, I was one of a handful of Gamesmakers, sat out in the Olympic Stadium watching the 100 metres final. Lucky Lucky Lucky!

The silence was charged, the spectators, all 80,000, the press, the TV crews, the timing clerks, and a few million people around the world watching the events unfold live were waiting, patiently waiting, for the gun to go off.

Wall of noise, everybody in the stadium standing, shouting and cheering (well apart from the media, who stayed at their posts), camera flashes lighting up the stadium and 10 seconds of total all encompassing excitement, and then it was over, although the cheering kept going for a lot longer as Usain completed his victory lap, posing for all the pictures, drinking in the adulation and praise.

It was awesome, the experience of a lifetime, something I will never forget, and I got video of it too. An experience I will remember and share.

And I learnt something too today. Usain Bolt has a right to be as confident as he is, he deserves it. He works hard to be the best he can be, and at the moment, that is as the best 100 metres sprinter in the world. Our shifts on the tribunes carried onto 11pm that night, and during that time, we watched as Usain spent time with every TV crew, each one got their interview. He spent over an hour doing this, and smiled all the way. Some of the public remained in the stadium, and he smiled and posed for them too. Tonight we saw the other side to him, a truly nice person, with time for others. And this wouldn’t be the first time he would show this during the week either.

We packed up for the evening, making sure all the machines were switched off and covered for the morning, and made our way down to the IT office.
The others had already left, but we didn’t mind, we had witnessed something awesome tonight, and we collected our things and made our way out of the arena and the park. So many people still leaving, so many Gamesmakers still at work, smiling and laughing and joking with the public. These guys were the real heroes of the day, not us, we were the lucky ones, and a part of me felt guilty.

We proceeded out of the park on our way home, reflecting on what had happened today, it had been a fantastic day, and we had witnessed far more than we were expecting.

Things couldn’t get any better could they? Really? Well they could and they would!

I was shattered last night, but I slept well and had a nice lie in today.

Feeling refreshed, I made my way to the park. Even more happy smiling faces, and I met some neighbours who didn’t know that I was a Gamesmaker, and seemed genuinely pleased. I had comments about my uniform on the way in too. It was going to be a nice day today.

I arrived at the park, checked in through the Gamesmaker entrance, and was met with hundreds, no thousands of people wandering around the park. This place was heaving. The UK had caught the Olympics bug, and the park was full. When I arrived we still had the morning tourists who were wandering around after the mornings events, and the afternoon/evening tourists, who were wandering around before the evenings events, so it was heaving. But fun, everyone was in a great mood.

I made my way to the stadium entrance, the gate security were fully occupied today, answering questions from tourists, eager to find out when they can enter the stadium and take their seats. Not for a few hours yet, but there was plenty for them to do and see around the park.
I showed my accreditation and made my way into the stadium. I headed towards the Gamesmaker entrance, expecting it to be a heaving mass of people checking in. But nope, not today. We IT technician Gamesmakers must have been on quite different shift patterns to the rest of the Gamesmakers, as everyday so far I had not been met with any queues or lengthy delays. Each time I checked in I was served straight away, and today was no different. Today I got my card stamped, and was presented with another pin badge, a bottle of warm water, a rice crispy cake, todays Gamesmaker news and of course my evening meal voucher, still the best meal of the day! Armed with my suntan lotion, I collected my booty and made my way to the IT office (via the canteen for a cup of tea of course!!!)

The morning team were all smiles when I arrived. The evening shift was here, and my arrival meant they could leave. Before they left, they regaled us with tales of what happened during the day so far and how much they had enjoyed it all. Today was a big day, the 100 metres final would take place later tonight, with the fastest men on the planet competing; it was going to be a busy night.

But before all that we had to get back into the tribunes. Still sore from our activity disconnecting all the K locks from the screens yesterday, we made our way up, arriving to fantastic warm sunshine. A beautiful day for working on the tribunes, we set to work. This afternoon we needed to be quick, the stadium would re-open to the public at 6pm, leaving us not long for our checks.

We set to work. This was our normal routine now, but never dull, as we saw different faces (although we and the TV crews were starting to get to know each other) and the Chinese TV crew were keen to show us their live streaming. This was interesting, we could see what they could see, and how it would all work.
Everyone was really nice, and each day as we grew in confidence we would engage more and more with the people around us, who were always happy to stop and have a chat. We would often find that we appeared in test videos and a range of discussions too, usually with the technical teams back at their bases, so not on national TV, well I hope not anyway!

There were a few of us on shift today, assisted by our Acer and Atos colleagues too, and we neared the end of our tasks pretty quickly, giving us the option of taking our time on some of the areas. For me that was the top level of the lower tribunes, where many of the mini TV studios were situated, the TF1 studio, NBC and of course the BBC Sport one. The BBC were the host broadcasters and had a very nice set, which looked fantastic, and as our equipment was in there, it meant we had access to the set, and our equipment in it.

The BBC crew would leave some of their set (encompassing our equipment) powered making it easy to check, if difficult to get to. The TF1 crew, would often switch off the power to the entire area, meaning that we had to wait for them before we could check our equipment. Not this afternoon though for the TF1 set, although today it was hard to find where they had moved our equipment to though, preferring that it was kept out of site of the TV cameras!

As you know for the last 2-3 weeks we had been strongly advised not to take any pictures, and it was only really when the Stadium opened for business that we had the courage to take some snaps of the amazing scenery. We of course still could not take any pictures of the back of house areas, in case we gave away important information about upcoming events, however as more and more pictures of the stadium were being taken by the public attending the events, we hoped that we could take a few without too much worry?

So here we were, standing next to the BBC set, which looked fantastic, and wondering if we could take pictures?

The BBC Sport set.

The BBC Sport set.

Well we didn’t wonder for long, and a couple of us took a snap or two, after all when would be the next time we would be here ( apart from this week, and today with the set being empty too!) and we had been here for 3 weeks now, so surely they wouldn’t fire us would they??
We hoped not as we took our pictures.

Proud of ourselves we finished our work and made our way back to our IT office, like naugthy schoolkids, not telling anyone what we had done, just in case.

Tonight was going to be a busy night, and we had to be back in the IT office in time for our evening briefing, so we made our way to the canteen for our evening meal. Honestly I know I have mentioned how good the food served each evening was, but again it was delicious. We chilled for a bit, before making our way back to the office.

What would be in store for us tonight we wondered? and what would happen tonight that would make us feel really lucky. We were about to find out! Oh yes we were about to find out!

To be continued.

Ok, Ok, I know that the competition started at the Olympic stadium yesterday, Friday 3rd August, but I wasn’t rostered in that day. So I had to watch it from home!!!

So today was my first shift of the competition.

A nice early start, today I was scheduled for the morning shift, on what would later be called (for us in the UK anyway) as Super Saturday! Like my previous morning commutes the trains and tubes were certainly filling up with more Gamesmakers and tourists. Some of the Gamesmakers were smiling, some tired, all standing out from the crowd, and all polite and smiling too.

The crowds outside the park were getting bigger now too. Even at this time of the morning, there must have been thousands getting ready to enter the park, checking their tickets and making their way to the main entrances. There were more Gamesmakers lining the route too, armed with big pink hands, or megaphones, and the crowds all love it. I pour my water out in a storm drain before making my way to the Gamesmaker entrance.

Wonderfully efficient, I proceed through the Gamesmaker entrance into the park. Now there were more people, more Gamesmakers, mobility vehicles, photo opportunities, reporters. My walk to the stadium would take longer now, many more people to navigate around, but the atmosphere was electric, and I was nice and early, so I didn’t mind and it was fun.

I proceeded through the Gamesmaker and staff entrance to the Olympic Stadium. Now there were more people, more Gamesmakers to be precise, many more. I mentioned last time that more were turning up, well, now it felt like all of them had arrived, and it was still only 07:20!
The stadium was abuzz, alive, ready for day 2 of competition.

For those of you who have read up on day 6 and 7 a couple of days after they were published, I have made a slight mistake. I didn’t get my card, stickers and pin badges, my memory is getting old! So to set the record straight (for those your you who read those blogs more than a couple of days afterwards, I have amended them now!)

I arrived at the Gamesmaker check in area, expecting it to be heaving, but it wasn’t, still quite early so there was no queue this morning. Our check in process did change today though. Up to now, we had our passcards scanned, picked up a meal voucher or two, and then we were sent on our way. Today was different. Today I was asked if I had a check in card, which I hadn’t so she supplied me with one, added a sticker, and presented me with a pin badge, and a rice crispy cake for breakfast.
Armed with my booty, I made my way to the IT office, via the canteen for a cup of coffee and via the flame for a quick early morning gaze.

The office was beginning to wake up when I arrived at 07:30. This was a good 2 1/2 hours before competition would start at 10 am, but we needed that time to check all the equipment ready for competition to start.
We kicked off our morning checks, around all the internal offices, the timing rooms, the medical offices, all around, before coming back and checking the tribunes. All had to be complete by 10 am, but we had it down to a fine art now, we knew exactly what we were doing , and all equipment was ready and in time.

Although we had finished in time, we took a bit of time leaving the area, making sure that everything was perfect, and we managed to catch the first few minutes of competition. We saw Jess Ennis win the first race of the morning, and the noise and the atmosphere was amazing. It was 10 am, and the stadium was full, 80 thousand people full.

We knew we were in for something amazing, we had witnessed it, and if it was the only event we witnessed during our entire time here, we were happy, impressed, amazed, ecstatic. Now it definitely couldn’t get better than this, could it?

As we made our way back to the comfort of our IT office, little did we know just what had started.

The rest of the morning passed without much incident. Apart from the odd issue here and there, we largely remained in our office. Listening to the crowds upstairs and outside, the cheering and the atmosphere. We could hear it all clearly in our office, and now a small telly had arrived we could see some of it too. We also had the option of streaming some of the live channels on our wireless network, which we did. Whilst we waited for fault reports to come in, we sat and watched, or read, or for me I caught up on some of my normal work too. Every so often a task would come in, and some of us would rush off to fix the issue, be it with a PC somewhere or a printer or a network problem.
Because we were so prepared each morning the fault level was always going to be low, and this was exactly how it should be. We should not be seen or heard. So we settled down and waited patiently.

Competition finished at 12:30, which signalled our time to go and get some food. A short stop, we were back out on the tribunes soon afterwards. Ready for our big task of the day, which had to be completed before competition re-started at 6pm.
If you have been reading this blog from the start, you will remember reading about the afternoon where we spent about 4 hours locking all the screens on the tribunes to their respective PCs and the furniture. Well it appears that this had been a bad idea, I suspect because when a screen goes faulty, it takes an age to remove them, and the users were not happy about waiting?

So this afternoon, it was back on our hands and knees, in the dust, armed with K lock keys as we unlocked each screen from it’s PC, collected the locking pins, and then locked the PC back up again. We had about 400- 500 to do, each one taking about 5-10 mins. A busy afternoon.

When time came to finish our shift and we had completed unlocking all of the screens, we were dead on our feet. It had been a tough afternoon, but we had witnessed an event in the morning, and heard the stadium come alive with the sounds of competition. It had been a very good day.
Little did we know what our evening shift colleagues were in for when we handed over to them at 4pm, the opportunity to experience Super Saturday live, however we were shattered, and I know that I enjoyed Super Saturday from the comfort of my settee when I got home that evening.

I slept well that night, I had witnessed something amazing that day. I’m sure my shift tomorrow afternoon would be good too, but for now I slept, the sleep of exhaustion.

To be continued…..

Today would be my last shift before competition would start tomorrow. Another early start, this would be my last long shift day. From now on there would be a morning shift and an afternoon/evening shift. But not today, today I would not finish until 6:15 pm, a long day lay ahead.

As with the other recent days, there were a lot more people about, boarding trains and making their way towards the Olympic park. By now the spirit of the Olympic games was really beginning to build. The swimming, diving, rowing, and other events were gripping the nation. Much of it on TV, now even more people wanted to experience the Olympics live rather than just via a TV screen.

At London bridge, they had segregated the platforms, some would be directed one way, the others would get a different route outside of the station and then back into the tube station down the road.
I had a hunch when I arrived, that I could miss the guided walkway out of the station, around the block and into the tube station, if I switched platforms, and made my way out from another platform, just maybe I could use the internal route instead. And it paid off, I could. This was a lot nicer, more relaxed, less people and inside where it was nice too.

The tubes were busier now too, more people, and more followers. By this I mean, more people ignoring the tube announcements to leave the tube at an earlier stop, instead to follow me and other Gamesmakers to the stadium. Bless, they assumed that we knew the best route!?! I’m not sure I did, but it was familiar to me, I had travelled this route 8 times now, and I was becoming more and more like an old friend to me.

I was met with the usual efficiency and the smiles of the early morning park check in, and the Gamesmaker check in. Picking up my booty, it was a warmer day today so I took up the offer of free sunscreen (remember I still hadn’t found my hat) and they were now offering bottles of water too. Warm I might add, oh how we were spoilt in the IT team, with our fridge and chilled water! 😉 But I gratefully took it and made my way via the canteen and a cup of coffee later to our office. Before I arrived at the office, I stopped for a bit and gazed at the flame. It looked and sounded beautiful, in the early morning stillness of the Olympic stadium. It might seem strange, but in the early morning quiet, you could hear the flame burning, and I loved it.

Boyed by the sound and view of the flame, I smiled as I walked into the office. A couple of the paid team were in, and they offered me a breakfast voucher. Yuuuuuummmmy. Off we went to the canteen, to pick up breakfast, a handful of us.
When we arrived there was 3 bacon rolls remaining, having been out on the hot plate for a while, the lady presented one to my colleague. He was a no nonsense chap, with a fantastic sense of humour and a wicked way about him. Upon tasting said roll, he loudly proclaimed to the lady serving us, that this was inedible, and quite rightly asked for one of the fresh ones under the counter. She looked perplexed, but with three of us there all suggesting the same thing (I agree, mine was tough enough to build a house on) she agreed to replace them. Soft bacon rolls for breakfast, this was going to be a great day.

Our morning rounds were changing each day, different people, and each day some of the offices would change, different equipment, although the PCs were largely staying put now. The odd TV screen would sometimes appear in our IT office too, so we could just about keep up with the action from the other events around the park and the other arenas. We had screens in the canteen too, but we couldn’t really hear what was going on in there, the noise from the occupants of the canteen was often too loud.
But we weren’t bothered by this, or upset, we were still having the time of our lives!

We finished our morning shifts, without much incidence. Some of the changes were starting to bite a bit. The warm up track had been reclassified as a new location that we didn’t have access too anymore, so we were unable to check the PCs here. We would have to rely on them reporting them if they were faulty, unless they gave us access of course. Some of the offices remained locked, so we couldn’t check them, but largely things were the same. The TV areas were getting busier now, more cameras and equipment and people turning up of course.

Lunch was the normal if busier affair, still nice to have a hot meal though, and a chance to sit down.

We made our way back to the office for our afternoon shift. This afternoon would be a slightly different one this time. This afternoon we would be back on the lower press tribunes. Where’s the difference in that I hear you cry!?!

Well this afternoon we had been tasked with setting up the anti glare shields that would be used to cover each screen on the tribunes. A cardboard affair, we had 500-600 flatpacked cardboard sheets, that we had to assemble into these covers, and then affix them to every screen we could find. We had two sets, the smaller sets for the information touch screens, and the larger set for the LCD TVs that were on each desk too.
We had made up quite a few of these before we discovered this fact, and wondering why the large ones completely dwarfed the touchscreens. It was only when a colleague had struggled and failed to jam a smaller cover over the larger TV screens that this became apparent.

View looking up the lower tribune area, where you can make out the plastic sheeting, and the cardboard anti glare screens.

So we built them, and fixed them to the screens, in the warmth of the summer sun. And we watched what else was happening in the stadium. It was starting to come alive, getting ready for it’s next event, almost finished its metamorphosis from a stadium of entertainment, to one of entertainment and sport.

We stepped down from the tribunes onto the track, and looked back up to marvel at what we had achieved, it looked great the tribunes were ready. All systems were go, the screens all worked, the menus all worked, we were ready.

Bring on the competition!

Well quite a lot as it happened.

There were more people in our IT office. It was already a little bit tight in there, and now it was getting more so. Our shift of Gamesmakers was bigger now, and we had a few more ATOS and ACER people too.

Our first task of the morning was to head out and do our regular PC checks. Now however we were starting to come across more people, more staff and Gamesmakers in the offices, more TV and press people. We still had 3 days to go until competition started, but there was definitely a change going on. A shift from the Opening ceremony to something different, something new.

Now more of the offices were being occupied, although we still had a large amount of freedom to move around the stadium as we needed, we could see how the stadium would begin to look for the competition, well certainly we could see how behind the scenes were going to look, we hadn’t been outside yet, that was still to come.

Our morning checks finished, we headed off to our morning tea break. It was still a relatively chilly and wet day out there, but much or our route to the canteen was under cover (well underneath the stadium actually) and we could make it there without getting too wet!
We could see more changes here, more people, still not full by any means, but definitely more Gamemakers. We discussed what had changed, the opening ceremony, oh and the fact that we, yes we would walk up to the Olympic Flame, we felt cool (even if we didn’t look it!)

Back in the IT office, where it was warm, we were issued with our next tasks, yup you guessed it, check the press tribunes! What those ones outside in the rain? Yup.
Now it wasn’t quite as bad as that, all the IT equipment was covered with tarpaulins, so the equipment itself was dry.

But that wasn’t what took our breath away when we arrived at the tribunes. It was the sheer scale of the change. Gone was the serene old England scene from the Opening ceremony, to be replaced with a no less beautiful games stadium. Ok so it wasn’t finished yet there was still more to do, more equipment to connect up, the timing boards to install, additional seating to be replaced (where the tree had been) and much more before the first events on Friday could take place, but now we were in the competition arena, one of the biggest and best you would ever see. And the flame looked beautiful too, really pretty.

We caught our breath and commenced the task in hand. We had to check the tribune PCs to make sure they were working after all the work that had taken place over the last few days. Normally a relatively simple task, only complicated by the fact we had to remove the tarpaulins first, which were of course laden with water and all the while making sure that none of the water seeped onto anything electrical!
We managed it, without incident, and all the machines were performing well. The upper tribunes completed too (a lot easier, they were covered by the stadium roof) we made our way back to the office.

There was more change on the way for us though. Today we were tasked to check a new range of PCs, in the timing, control, event control and announcement offices. We had not been here before, this was new.
Last week, these offices were not being used, but this week they were beginning to wake up, more and more equipment was arriving for them, and more people were working in these offices too. Not for Gamesmakers these roles, these were all staffed by professionals in their field, we would be some of the only Gamesmakers to see these offices and meet these people. These rooms were full of equipment, leads, cameras, microphones, desks and somewhere in that lot some PCs. Some of these rooms were restricted entry, and we needed to ask for permission to enter!

Some were quiet though, some were empty, and some had yet to have much equipment installed. We visited the IOC VIP offices, and the IOC adjudication offices, all with fantastic views of the arena (which they needed to be honest), and all with big opening windows out to the events and the atmosphere of the Olympics.

One was totally empty, apart from a couple of tables, and us of course. We had to install 3 new PCs in here, and connect up printers and other IT equipment, we set to work.
Up to now, we had, as you well know, been told not to take any pictures. But surely that rule had changed now? The Opening ceremony had finished, and the world could talk about it. I checked and a colleague who was not sure, said that he had taken a sneaky few, from hidden locations. Well this place was hidden, surely I could take a few???

So I chanced my arm, and did, there was hardly anyone in the stadium, it was raining, so hopefully I wouldn’t be caught.



Back to work, we had equipment to install, and we were nice and warm, and dry, inside on this wet day. And we were loving it, every minute of it.

We were impressed by just how much had changed, and fascinated by what we saw. Just like kids with the keys to the sweet shop, we couldn’t be happier!

To be continued…

Tuesday the 31st July. Another early start for me, and a change in weather. It was no longer wall to wall glorious sunshine. That had been replaced by cloud and slightly chilly mornings, with the threat of rain too.

It had been 4 days since my last shift in the stadium. I had some time to rest my poor aching, sore and wounded feet. I slipped into my trainers again, and that now familiar pain returned, not as bad as previously, but still evident. Today however I could at least look at the scenery on my journey into London and not look down at the floor in pain.

There was change on this journey too. More Gamesmakers catching trains from my station. Last week there was just me, now there was me and a handful of others. More tourists too, and evidently even at this time in the morning, many were making their way to the Olympics.

The London stations were changing too, no longer could I choose my route to the tube, I was to follow the new Olympic route, which took me outside London Bridge and down a street to the tube station. This was different.
The changes didn’t stop there either, when I got to Stratford station that too had changed, again, we were guided on a route, rather than making our own way. By this time there were also a lot more Gamesmakers, and tourists too.
We also started to find Gamesmakers on our route too, with big pink hands, guiding us along with directions and smiles. We also had more pass checks too, now you couldn’t get as close to the park as last week unless you had a ticket, or a pass card.
We also encountered more barriers, more people, more gates and a new entrance for us Gamesmakers. What else had changed I wondered, as I made my way through the security checks?

The security checks were as thorough as normal, however there was a subtle change, obviously more new Gamesmakers had been arriving, so we had a few more instructions and reminders from the security team.
I have to admit, I can’t remember if I have praised the Army who were manning the security checkpoints. Can I just say how brilliant they were, in either the scorching heat, or the cold of the British summer, they were polite, helpful and always had a smile. They were also brilliantly efficient. Thanks all 🙂

Back to the story.
I made my way into the park, and what a change awaited me. All the signs were up and lit, Gamemakers were lining the route, the public were there, taking pictures and having fun (at 07:20 in the morning too!). Many of the little things had changed, the coffee shop outside the stadium had gone, to be replaced by other outlets. And the place was heaving, no more walking through the park, with much of it to myself, now there were tourists too, lots of happy smiling faces, quite a few questions and some posing for pictures, wonder if they minded 😉 ?

I made my way to the Gamesmaker check in, the Stadium had a new set of barriers too now, stopping the public from getting too close, which was prudent, as the Stadium still had a few more days to go, before it was ready for competition.
I arrived into the Gamesmaker check in, luckily as my shift was relatively early, it was still quite quiet in there, and I didn’t have to wait to check in. I picked up my meal vouchers , long day so lunch and dinner would be provided today, which was nice, the evening meals were still delicious!

Armed with my booty, I made my way to the IT office, via the restaurant to pick up a cup of coffee, and walked in to the IT office and settled down to wait for the others.
They soon arrived, and one of them asked if I had seen the Olympic flame. Yes on the telly, it looked great. No they replied, the one in the tunnel, did you see it, how did you miss it, you walked straight past it they said when you came in!?!

That’s right, i’m not sure if I have mentioned it yet, but our IT office was next to one of the Stadium entrance tunnels, and it happened to be the one the Olympic flame was in front of, and I had walked straight past it and not even noticed! It was a bit warmer in that tunnel though, which i had noticed, but not thought any more about it!
I put down my coffee and headed out of the IT office.

And there it was, the Olympic flame, in all it’s glory, just outside our office, i had walked past it to get in this morning, within about 3 feet of this giant thing. Now to point out though, that it was on a large base, and had a huge board behind it, so that all i could see as I walked past it, was this board, it was only when you looked around the board, that you could see the flame.
I could virtually walk up to it and touch it, but I didn’t. Still wasn’t sure if we could take pictures yet, never mind touch the base of the Olympic flame!


I sheepishly made my way back into the office, and with a big grin on my face. I could not believe just how close I could get to the Olympic flame and even from that angle it looked beautiful.
I discussed the beauty of the flame with the rest of the team, whilst we waited for our first task of the day. Today would be different, there were a lot more people in the stadium now, more staff and many more volunteers and I was looking forward to it!

Bring it on!

To be continued.

And it was. In my last update I had mentioned that it was 32c, beautiful sunshine, and the stadium looked as beautiful as ever.
This afternoon, not for us the cool relaxation of the air conditioned IT office. This afternoon we had a task to do, and it would take us all the way up to 5pm!

I have mentioned before that a lot of our work involved working in the press and media areas, and of course the press and media tribunes. We were responsible for all the IT equipment in these areas, and our bosses made sure we knew it!

This afternoon we found out that as there was over 500 PCs and touchscreens all outside in the stadium, with a tendency to sometimes walk about, that we would have to Kensington Lock all the moveable items to the furniture (each press area had a desk that we could lock items to).
Not a bad idea really. Makes a lot of sense and although it was very unlikely that anything could leave the stadium or the park, if it left a desk and moved to another part of the stadium, that would cause significant problems for us and the press who had to use it.

The PCs had already been locked to the furniture, our task this afternoon was to add the screens to the already locked PCs. Easy yes?


Hopefully if you have been reading from the start, you will remember that in the Lower Tribunes, to keep the PCs nice and dry, they were all positioned side on, underneath the desk.

The Kensington Lock slot is at the back of the PC, which was safely stored under the desk.
The screen is on the desk.

Our task involved unlocking the Kensington Lock cable from behind the PC, extending the lock cable and passing it through the cable holes in the desk up to the screen, adding the locking pins to the screen, passing the lock cable through the pins, and then locking the cable again.
Dusty, dirty (we were on our hands and knees for most of the time, pulling out chairs, and trying to locate the PC under the desk) bent over, wiggling armoured lock cable which isn’t easy, having pockets full of pins, outside in 32c heat, and me without a hat.

It was still an amazing experience, but wow it was hot and hard work. Sometimes a volunteer would pop down to the air conditioned IT office and bring back a bottle of ice cool water, and crikey did we need it!

There were upsides, it wasn’t raining, it was actually a beautiful day and the stadium was getting ready for tomorrow night. We had sound checks. Wow did we have some sound checks, base thumping, feel it in your bones and rib cage volume level sound checks. We had lighting checks, we had TV camera checks. And we had the London Symphony Orchestra performing a full rehearsal here today too. I’m going to use that word awesome again, but how awesome was that. We must have been about 20 metres away from the London Symphony Orchestra, performing their routine for tomorrow night, in an empty stadium, just us and a few others (20-30 other people maybe).
We may have a fiddly, dusty, tiring and hot job to do, but we couldn’t ask for better accompanying entertainment now could we.

As I have mentioned before, when most of us met up on our final training day before we started, we all thought we were very very lucky to be working in the Olympic Stadium, and each day so far, that feeling of being lucky was generally increasing. So far most of us had seen the Opening ceremony rehearsal, and areas of the stadium that others would never see. And today, we got a virtually personal audience with the London Symphony Orchestra, in full flow, on a gorgeous summer day.

It couldn’t get any better than this could it, really it couldn’t. We had been so lucky so far, it would be unfair for us to get any more surely.

We finished by about 17:30, exhausted, hot and dusty. But strangely satisfied. All the screens in the lower, and upper tribunes had now been secured to their relative PCs, and the desk of course. We were content in a job well done.

Back in the IT office, we packed up our things, and prepared to leave. We wished all those who were in tomorrow good luck, and expressed our jealousy. Some of us would only be able to watch it on the TV. But we didn’t mind, we had been part of the build up, and we were happy for those who would experience it for real.

We made our way to our evening meal, and again it was delicious. Confit of Duck I think it was, and it was brilliantly well cooked. Content but weary we made our way out of the park, on our way home, hobbling for me. Today would be the final day that we had the park to ourselves. After tomorrow, although the stadium would still be closed for another week, the park would be open and full of people. What would change I wondered? Well in a few days, I would find out.

One thing I did know, was that my upcoming Sunday shift had been cancelled. It had been decided that there would be just too much heavy equipment and machinery in the stadium removing the opening ceremony set, and there would be no need for an IT team in that day. I had four days off before my next shift in the stadium, time to rest my poor painful feet. Well once I had hobbled home that is.

I had told all my friends and family that they must watch the Opening ceremony on the TV as it would be amazing. And I think for most it was. But not for me, Unfortunately the TV pictures just couldn’t do it justice. Don’t get me wrong, it was still excellent, but I sort of missed being there. Although I did like finding out about all the bits that had been hidden from us so far. They were all really fun, and finally I could talk about what I had already seen! I could explain the NHS, the chimneys and the music. It was great.

Next shift another early 07:45 am start, 18:15 pm finish, full day affair on Tuesday 31st July. What would that entail I wonder?

To be continued.

If you can call any day as a Gamesmaker at the London 2012 Olympics normal, would today be that day?

So far I had watched the opening ceremony 3 times, walked the entire length of the park, eaten some meals, almost been asked to leave, arrived late, been to the warm up track, worked in some of the VIP areas, and of course worked in the media tribunes and the production trucks and the press areas too.

An early start, 07:45 my shift was scheduled to start, and this time I wanted to get there on time, or early, I did not want to repeat what had happened on my first day.
The trains were on time, the tubes were running, and it was another beautiful warm morning. I arrived at Stratford station at about 07:05, I would be in time today and I was happier than I had been on Friday, I can tell you.

My feet still hurt, boy did they hurt, and by the time I had passed through the park entry check in, through the Gamesmaker check in, I was hobbling. But I kept going, I wasn’t going to miss any of my shifts and certainly not because of dodgy feet.

As a Gamesmaker in a small group and a fairly specialised area, we had some privileges that the others wouldn’t get. I have already mentioned the access levels we had, the fact that we had a fridge in our office, and we could grab bottled water (rather than having to fill up our provided bottles from a water fountain), we had an office with wireless access, comfy seats and had been told that we would have TV feeds in there too (when the Olympics had started). This also meant that our bosses were a little bit more flexible with our uniforms and provided equipment. We had been provided with bags that we could use to store our items, however these were quite small, and when there were 6 or 7 all stored in the same area, it was difficult to work out who’s was who’s.
I had plucked up the courage to ask on the Monday whether I could bring my laptop bag in, and perhaps do some work during the quiet periods. The IT manager had agreed subject to the centre technology manager agreeing, which she did, and today was the first day I arrived with my own bag. A lot easier to carry around, I could get more stuff in it, and it hadn’t presented any problems at all, either on the journey or through the checkpoints.

I arrived at the IT office nice and early, at about 07:30, before many of the others had arrived. Not a problem though, I made myself comfy and waited for the others to turn up. Strangely I had arrived before most of the paid technical team too, and when they arrived (surprised at finding me there so early) it transpired that they weren’t scheduled to start until 08:00!

It was nice though. The paid IT team had a handful of breakfast vouchers, not many, but a few. We didn’t get breakfast vouchers, because we didn’t start until just after the voucher window closed. but today the paid crew had 4, and only 3 were scheduled to start this morning, so they offered me the spare one. Result I could get a bacon butty for breakfast too, yummy! See there were benefits from a nice early start!

Soon the other volunteers arrived, and we started to prepare for our morning shift. As with my last morning shift, our first priority was an early morning check of all the IT equipment around the stadium. We started by checking all the units in the indoor press areas (written journalists, press photographer areas), then off to the TV production suites. These were linked to the production vans, but rooms in portacabins at the back of the stadium, again with lots and lots of equipment. Some of the team went off to the warm up track to check the machines over there too.
Our first session took about 2 hours, and would take us up to our morning break, which was a nice affair, a few minutes to sit down and catch up with our fellow colleagues and gamesmakers. Tonight would be another rehearsal night, and some of the other gamesmakers had secured tickets to watch it, looking forwards to being part of the audience!
Our morning break finished, we arrived back in the IT office, ready for our next tasks. Back on the tribunes, a full morning check of all the machines, making sure they were all working, and had survived the night.
To explain, all of these PCs were outside, and although the upper tribunes were covered by the stadium canopy, the lower ones were open to the elements, from the heat of the day, through the cold of the night, and of course the occasional shower!
Our role was to remove the plastic sheeting covering the PCs, and starting them all up to check that they fired up, and accessed the central systems. This involved removing all the sheeting, powering up each machine in the row, then walking back to the row start to check that it would show the correct screens, and that the touch elements worked ok. Sounds easy, and it was, however it was long, each row section had 10 machines, across 3 or 4 sections, so 30-40 machines per row. 10 rows at the lowest section, and then there was the upper section too and that was just the lower tribunes. Also on the lower tribunes all the PCs were under the desk at floor level, so we had to move all the chairs, look under the desk, find the unit (which would be facing to the side) switch it on, then switch on the screen, and then move to the next one.
But it was a beautiful sunny day, so we enjoyed being out on the lower tribunes, armed with our bottles of water, and our paper and pens, and got to work.
Once we had finished with the lower tribunes, it was time to complete the upper tribune check. This was a lot easier. Because the upper tribunes were covered by the stadium canopy, they weren’t covered by plastic tarpaulins, and also the desktops were positioned on the desks, not under them. This role was a lot quicker! The view from here was good too, we got to see the stadium ready for the opening ceremony, lots of people working on the set, getting it ready, checking the lighting, and the sound of course. We heard the soundtrack all through the day, and we loved it.

By the time we had finished, it was lunchtime. We made our way from the IT office, towards the back of the stadium where the canteen/restaurant area was situated. We were still relatively early in our deployment, so the number of canteen users was still quite light, although we could see that more people were beginning to eat there now.

Lunch finished, and back in the IT office, we received our next task. This time we were back to the store room. We had another delivery and we needed to liaise with the delivery team, our management team and the stores teams. 10 more pallets of items, paper, toner cartridges and general supplies. This would take us most of the afternoon to sort out as each day when we went home the store pixies would come out, and move all the stuff that we had neatly stored!

Today was hot too, in our Gamesmaker uniforms in about 32c heat, nice and light, and handily they had provided us with snazzy hats for when we were outside. But we were hot ,the store room was not air conditioned, and it was nice when we finished for the day and made our way back to the air conditioning of the IT office. The evening shift had already arrived and we handed over to them, who were all bright eyed and bushy tailed, and looking forward to the evening events.

I was asked if I wanted to stay and watch the evening ceremony, which I thought was a really nice touch. However I declined, I had seen the ceremony 3 times now, and was shattered. I also needed to be up early for tomorrows 07:45 am start too, so with regret I declined the offer. They were also looking for flag bearers to join in with the ceremony, but again I declined, my feet really hurt and I wanted a rest!

Time to go, i packed up and left the office, said goodnight to the evening team and made my way.

And then I turned back, I had left my hat behind. I got back to the office and searched high and low, but couldn’t find it. Not to worry, perhaps one of the others had found it, or taken it home by mistake. I will check with them tomorrow.
Bit miffed though, day 4 of my Olympic journey and I had already lost my hat.

I hobbled my way home.

To be continued.

By the time we had got back from our walk around the Olympic park, it was time for our evening meal (well it was about 7pm anyway, and I was Hank Marvin’).
All the other Gamesmakers had already eaten so we were despatched on our own and with some haste too as we needed to get there before the canteen shut for the evening. Another delicious evening meal, by now we were finding that the evening ones were generally of a better quality than the ones during the day.

As we walked back to the office from the canteen area, we could hear the public arriving into the stadium, and hear the ceremony getting ready.

We got back into the office with little hope that we would see much tonight, especially after our incident on the previous Friday. So we settled down to an evening sitting in the office, waiting for any faults to be called in, and working away on our smartphones or reading books etc.

However, things are never quite as they seem when working as a Gamesmaker in the Olympic Stadium.

The Stadium technology manager (responsible for all the technology in the stadium, our top boss) gathered us all together for our nightly briefing. This was the first one I was involved with as on previous nights the stadium was closed so we didn’t require a briefing.
As the date of the Opening ceremony got closer, we would need to know more about what was scheduled for the day and the evening and the briefings would keep us informed. Tonight we learnt the time the stadium would be open to the public and the number of people who were expected to be in the stadium. There would be 50,000 tonight and it was going to be the first proper test of the entry process, and we would need to be aware as we moved around the stadium that we might not get to our destination as quickly as before.

Tonight was to be the first proper rehearsal and we could hear it starting up from our nice windowless breezeblock office. We would be able to hear the goings on, but wouldn’t be able to see them.

Or so we thought.
After a brief discussion between some of the other colleagues, we were advised to pop up to the lower tribune area and see if we could find somewhere we could stand, out of the way, and watch some of the ceremony. Not wanting to hang about we instantly complied and made our way through the corridors and additional security people upstairs.
We found a location, and a few of us stood around to watch the ceremony from our vantage point. All was going well until about 10 minutes in, when we were advised that we couldn’t stay where we were, as we would be in the way of the drummers and there was no where else to stand, so when the time came, we left our spot, and made our way back to our office.

More discussions, and this time one of our colleagues was dispatched to scout out a new location for us to watch the ceremony. Following on from our little indiscretions on the previous Friday, and the displeasure that was supposedly expressed by our IT technology team manager, it was with a little surprise that I discovered that it was he who had dispatched a colleague to find a suitable location. Maybe he wasn’t quite so strict as I had originally thought.

Our scout was unable to find a suitable location, and the IT manager decided it was time to take matters into his own hands, giving the scout specific instructions about where to look, and off they went.
Soon the phone rang, and instructions were given about where we could sit. The upper tribunes were free, and there was a range of seats that we could occupy. So off we were again.

For me it was the second time I got to watch the Opening ceremony, and I discovered that our IT manager was actually a really nice chap. This was all going too well, surely something would go wrong, and it certainly couldn’t get any better could it?

We watched the entire ceremony until the point where the athletes would arrive. At this point all the public were asked to leave, as there wasn’t really much for them to see, apart from some volunteers walking around the stadium so to speak. At this point we also left the stadium and returned to the office. The place was a buzz with what we had seen, all of us now really eager to see the real thing on Friday. Many of us discussed how many shows we could see, at least one volunteer was scheduled for all three nights, lucky indeed. For me that was my last scheduled evening shift on a ceremony night, the next rehearsal being Wednesday (I was on an early shift that day) and of course the full Opening ceremony on the Friday night, when I wasn’t scheduled to be in, so I would have to watch at home.

Soon it was time for us to leave for the evening, another fantastic and generally awesome night. We were very excited now, and starting to realise that we were lucky individuals indeed.

Oh yes, almost forgot, remember my feet? Remember that it is at least a 20 min walk to the station? All I can say is ouch, it was so painful to walk, how was I going to manage? Well tonight I would be a little lucky and I did get to rest a bit outside the stadium, the queues for the tube station that evening were huge, and we had left at least 45 minutes after the rest of the public. We were lucky again, we only had to wait about 20 minutes, but others must have been there longer. The thing is though, no one minded, everybody in the queue was really cheerful and happy,talking about what they had witnessed that night, and many were looking forward to Friday!

To be continued….