The crowds turning out to mark the passage of the Olympic Torch, sometimes in quite appalling weather and at the oddest times of the day, have shown that, for many of us, it is indeed a part of the 2012 Olympics in which
we can all feel involved, whether or not we have actually been able to secure tickets for the Main Event.
Not everyone I know is bowled over by the Torch's progress through our green and pleasant land,
but I've always been a supporter. This despite the fact that there has never been any funding from those corporate sponsors, whose monster vehicles dwarfed the torch and its bearers, for the local authorities who have had to organise the stewards,
make plans for community involvement, ensure all runs smoothly on the day - and afterwards are having to clear up the inevitable rubbish left behind.
My thought had always been that having the torch
run through so many areas would give a host of towns and villages a chance to shine, to be noticed, to entice viewers who might be watching, particularly from abroad, to come and visit. I expected that to be part of
the much-talked-about legacy from the 2012 Olympics, one which would benefit areas far away from London, the centre of attention.
Sadly, I don't think the Torch Relay has delivered on these
expectations. There have been, indeed, a number of specially staged "moments" at well-known sites like Stonehenge, for example, captured for posterity. But on the whole the coverage has done far less than I thought it would to
promote the many beautiful areas through which the relay has been run.
If you want to see how it should be done, then take a look at the coverage of the Tour de France. Yes, lots of we
Brits will be watching for Bradley Wiggins in that distinctive yellow jersey and hoping he can hold on for glory. But many, many more will be drinking in the stunning beauty of the French countryside, not just the majestic, mountain ranges but also the
picturesque towns and villages through which the cyclists wend their way. And we'll be saying: "Must think about France for a holiday soon...."
Britain is just as beautiful - the Torch Relay
just hasn't shown it off as it could, and should, have done.