Last week, I hardly saw or spoke to The Heid – he was in Olympic mode: camped at Stratford; parked, incommicado, in front of the TV; or frantically trying to buy more tickets. In he would come, past midnight, fresh from the hockey or the handball, smelling of beer and “trying to be quiet” in the manner of a man who’s had one too many, while I pretended to sleep. And then, just when everything seemed to be quiet, a strange glare would emit from his side of the bed and the following conversation would ensue.
Me: “What the f*** are you doing now?!”
The Heid (brightly): “Oh hi baby! I’m just doing something quickly on my lap-top.”
Me: “It’s nearly one o clock in the morning. What are you doing on your lap-top?”
The Heid (guiltily): “I’m just trying to buy some more Olympics tickets”
Me: “For goodness sake! How many events do you need to go to?! You’ve already been to most of them, spent all your money and used up all your holiday. It’s ridiculous. You’re turning into a prize Olympic bore. Now go to sleep!”
And then, on Saturday, suddenly, I got it. It was my first Olympic event, in the stadium, on the night that we all know now will go down as one of the greatest in British Olympic history. I waved my flag furiously as Greg Rutherford took gold in the long jump; I screamed “Goooo Jeeesssss” as Jessica Ennis powered through the finish line of the 800 metres; and, alongside 80,000 others, chanted, as if my very life depended upon it, “MO, MO, MO!” as Mo Farah, the hero, fought his way to the front of the 10,000 metres and, head thrown back, eyes wide in disbelief, crossed the finish line to roars of pure, uninhibited joy and jubilation from the crowd. It was quite something.
Of course, all that shouting and emotion is hungry work and I felt quite relieved that we’d had such a good feed at The Crate Brewery earlier in the day. Right next to Hackney Wick, and just one stop or a short walk from The Olympic Stadium, this a great pre-Olympic eatery, offering hand-thrown pizzas, made on the spot and fired in a proper pizza oven, alongside its own excellent beer (Crate Local Ale), which it craft-brews on the premises.
Housed in a converted warehouse with upturned crate seating, reclaimed wooden tables, and sofas upcycled in old barley sacks, there is a real industrial vibe going on here, and it works. We took a seat outside on a long bench overlooking the canal and ordered from a menu consisting of about eight different pizzas. After much deliberation, we plumped for Courgette and Feta, Middle Eastern Lamb with Pine nuts and Laksa Chicken, and with their crisp, wafer thin bases and unusual, flavoursome toppings, they turned out to be some of the best pizzas any of us had ever eaten.
But how did each of them fare on the Olympic score board?
GOLD MEDAL went to the Laksa Chicken. With its delicate lemon marinade and spicy aftertaste, we were unanimous in awarding this the top spot.
SILVER MEDAL went to the Courgette and Feta. This was really very good. The courgette strips were sliced beautifully thin and you could tell that the feta was high quality.
BRONZE MEDAL went to the Middle Eastern Lamb. We loved the addition of pine nuts and there was a nice sweetness added by little chunks of apricot, but we kind of wished we’d ordered the Sweet potato, Gorgonzola and Pine nut pizza instead.
Oh well, once I’ve spent all my money, used up my holiday time and bored the pants off everyone trying to get more Olympic tickets, I’ll have to go back and try it.
The Crate Brewery