Tonight is the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics, just a couple of miles down river from where I'm sitting now. In a few hours, the Olympic torch should pass by my office window (Edited to add that the torch has actually gone past!)
I had just left university when the games were awarded to London in the summer of 2005.
There was no expectation when I left school that I wouldn't go on to university. Apart from the month or so when I was waiting to hear if my first choice university would give me an offer, there was never any real question about what I would study and where I would study. It just seemed like the inevitable progression from 14 years at school.
When I graduated, the fact that there was no obvious next step came as a slight shock to my system. For someone who likes to plan and can't even go out for dinner without making a reservation and scoping out the menu beforehand, the freedom was liberating.
(It became less liberating when I realised that my parents were not disposed to provide for me forever and that I would actually need to get a job if I wanted to eat.)
That summer, though. That summer, I didn't really care about the future.
Everything was changing around me. The relationship I had been in for the previous two years in was gradually falling apart and I had no willingness to save it. The house I grew up in, the house where I sat, sprawled in my favourite chair, as I was I watched the announcement that the Olympics would be coming to London, was being sold. For the first year in memory, my summer was not limited by the prospect of a new term starting in September.
On the day we were awarded the Olympics, 6 July 2005, the summer of 2012 could not have seemed further away. It seemed so far away that I was pretty sure it would never actually happen. It seems like a lifetime ago and yet it also seems like it was yesterday. I'm pretty sure I could even tell you what I was wearing.
I remember wondering of that day what I would be doing in the summer of 2012. Would I still be in London? Would I have a job? Would I be married? Would I have children?
I realised yesterday that, in some strange way, I've held the summer of 2012 out as marking the end of this strange phase of my life, more than any birthday or any new year. I've moved on from those hedonistic university years, grown up and settled down. But now, I have no idea what I'm going to do next.
Afore mentioned ex-boyfriend had an abiding hatred of tomatoes. I know a lot of people who don't particularly like tomatoes but I've never met anyone who was so averse to them. Tomatoes in any form were an anathema. Admittedly, his habit of entering into relationships with other women was the main cause of our break up but I like to think that our difference of opinion on tomatoes was a small factor too.
My absolute favourite way to eat tomatoes is simply roasted with a dash of olive oil and a grind of black pepper. Here, I added green beans, tender and sweet when roasted and some shavings of parmesan, a scattering of torn basil and a gentle squeeze of lemon juice. It makes a good side dish bit it can equally stand alone, maybe served with a slice or two of bread to soak up the juices as the tomatoes burst.
Roasted green beans and cherry tomatoes
Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish
- 200g (8 oz) cherry tomatoes
- 150g (6 oz) green beans
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Parmesan to serve
- Basil leaves to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. In a large oven dish or baking tray, combine the tomatoes and green beans with the olive oil, salt and pepper making sure that everything is coated.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and the green beans are fully cooked.
- Remove from the oven and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the vegetables, top with shaved parmesan and torn basil leaves and serve.