23 July 2012

Purple and pink, polyester and plastic

I wrote a while back that I'd applied to be a London Ambassador during the Olympics. I'd originally understood this to mean something more akin to showing small groups of people around areas of London and thought I'd be under-qualified for it. But it turns out all it's just standing around in a nasty uniform being prepared to answer people's questions.
Whilst I am more than happy to do my bit the whole 'training' process has been tiresome and badly-managed. But I bit my tongue and bided my time.
And then the uniform arrived. Oh dear... 
It's certainly not what I'd call 'sustainable'... in fact it will be definitely be more of a legacy as almost every part of it is man-made. Here we are in an age of recycling and ecology and just looking at these clothes is bringing me out in a sweat. I can't even sleep in poly-cotton sheets, so this is going to be rather a trial for me.
The pink and purple tops are made from 100% polyester with a small irritating collar. When the Ambassadors were first on the streets they were sporting simple cotton T-shirts with white lettering on them. Why couldn't we have had those, or something similar? The matching cheap, thin, easily-creased fleece is lined in silver grey polyester, as is the '100% Nylon' rainproof hooded jacket.
We have been instructed that a hat must be worn during our tours of duty but the baseball cap looks very silly on me and I run the risk of being asked if you can get fries with that. So I will instead be sporting the straw trilby, which actually isn't bad, however, that too has polyester stiffening inside it. I wore it for 10 minutes so that my friends could laugh at me, and my hair was damp when I took it off.
Then there's the stiff black trousers containing 67% polyester. I assume the skirts are made using the same material. Luckily they now say we can wear our own plain black trousers (phew!) but why they couldn't have thought of that before they wasted all so much money making and distributing thousands of the things is beyond me. After all, who hasn't got a pair of black trousers or a black skirt?!
Plain black walking-style shoes or trainers finish off the ensemble. No open toes or sandals. No shorts.
Whoever designed this should be shot. I mean, polyester and dark trousers in July and August?! D'uh! Actually, that's a point... er... 'designed'?
All of this must be carted about in a matching pink and purple rucksack that isn't waterproof. So plastic everywhere else, but not for the bag!
Then there's the issue of where these things were manufactured. There appears to have been a great opportunity missed to produce things here in the UK. I can find no 'Made In' labels in the top, trilby, fleece or jacket, but cap and the bag say they were made in China.
And the branding, which looks ironed-on, varies from item to item. The typeface under the logos is that hideous new Olympics font (ech spit!*), but 'TEAM LONDON Ambassador', which is in Futura Regular on most items, is in Helvetica/Arial on the bag, and then a strangely squished version of Futura Light has been used on the cap with the letters A and M in a smaller size. What's that all about?!.
Bizarrely you can still apply to be an Ambassador as the relevant page is still live. I think this speaks volumes.
But hey...
Please do come and find me in Trafalgar Square between noon and 5.30pm every day 13–17th August. It's my birthday on the 15th and I will be needing a few drinks after perspiration and weight loss.
*I use 'font' here, as there only appears to be one weight of this revolting "typeface". I still cannot fathom why the 'o' is a complete circle and does not follow the same angular rules as the other letters. Perhaps, once the Games start, we might see it dancing about and becoming part of the Rings...? Oh I dunno.


  1. But think of the water-repellent qualities of man-made fibres. You'll be like an exotic polyester duck, with the rain running straight off you, leaving the inner woman lovely and warm.

  2. "But I bit my tongue and bided my time"

    Yeah sure you did!

  3. Goaannnn, betcha you look lovely... And at least you don't have to wear beige like the other set of games volunteers..
    Er... don't the 'Lympics finish on the 12th?

  4. I have just come back from Turkey.... I am now very good and smiling whilst sweating, so perhaps it won't be toooo bad..
    Nick... the Paralympics will be on 29 Aug – 09 Sept and the people won't just disappear as soon as the games are over....

  5. The O's remained static. Nothing happened. NO I am still waiting for that square bit in the middle of the logo to explain itself.

  6. I hadn't even noticed that on the hat - had to get mine out of the cupboard to check. I agree with you on all points re the training and the uniform. In retrospect wish I had applied to be a Games Maker as their duties seem much more interesting and the uniform better.


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