“I had seen the Olympics in London. In my city, in my country, in my lifetime.”
Rahul, True Brits
I went to the excellent play True Brits tonight, playing at Vaults festival until this Sunday. It’s a solo show about a young Asian man, Rahul growing up in London and his experiences during the summer of 2005. Sandwiched between slices of later life when the Olympics came to London in 2012.
From the bombings on 7/7 to England winning the Ashes, it was an iconic few months for everyone. I have particularly clear memories because it was straight after uni, when I started on the Teach First programme and had moved into my first shared flat in the city. It was also the summer I first met Dave and Tim of Beer & Hymns fame; that’s not something you easily forget.
At the end of the play Rahul said the line above, which set me off crying. It echoed so exactly the words my Mum had said when we went to the Olympics together. She, who has fostered my love of cricket and who is so very British, while proudly sharing her Polish husband’s name. Except for at work.
I cried because I felt touched to have re-experienced those few months through someone else’s eyes. Someone with a very different background to me, but for whom those months were also memorable, for very different reasons.
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to ask the writer, Vinay about what inspired him and it surprised me to learn how many of Rahul’s experiences in the wake of the bombings, fuelled by anti-Muslim – or really any kind of Asian – sentiment, had also been his. I didn’t get a chance to ask him who he is supporting in the Cricket World Cup though.
Incidentally, this conversation took place in the bar afterwards, where I nursed my diet coke with a wistful smile. Result.
It’s a tenuous link to Lent, so bear with me… It’s easiest to reflect on ourselves and our own lives, but far harder to reflect on the lives and experiences of others. I wonder if it is better to make that extra effort now, over a season that is all about reflection.