After pulling off a memorable spectacle for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, London mayor Boris Johnson is confident his city can do it again when the Olympics draw the attention of the world.
“(The Diamond Jubilee) was very important because everyone was watching us,’’ Johnson told Matt Lauer on TODAY Thursday. “I would say London is going to cope, I hope, very well with the Games in 50 days’ time. I think the Jubilee proved that we can do it. Obviously I’m hoping very much to welcome people this summer to a summer like no other.’’
During the four-day celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s reign, Johnson only saw her once as he was waving his British flag in Trafalgar Square.
“I saw her go past, and it really meant something to me,’’ Johnson said.
Another sight that should be attracting plenty of eyes when the Olympics kick off on July 27 is the wild-looking ArcelorMittal Orbit, an observation tower and Great Britain’s largest piece of public art. Built in advance of the Games, it is situated between the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre to allow tourists to see the whole Olympic park from a pair of platforms.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit is a much-maligned structure built in London in advance of the Olympics.
“Every big World Fair, every Olympics, every international expo historically from the Eiffel Tower to the Atomium, has had a kind of vertical pillar of attraction,’’ Johnson said. “I like it.’’
The London tabloids have had a field day with the tower: Most vivid was the Daily Mail, who called it “twisted spaghetti,’’ “horrific squiggles,” and “Meccano on crack.’’
“It is the largest and most preposterous-ever representation of a shisha pipe,’’ Johnson joked. “I’ve had it called a gigantic mutant trombone.’’
“And worse,’’ Lauer cracked.
Johnson also quelled talk of a potential strike by the city's bus operators.
“They’re going to want to put on a fantastic display of London,’’ he said.
Johnson, who was born in New York City and raised in London, is also promoting his new book, “Johnson's Life of London: The People that Made the City that Made the World.’’ A former journalist, Johnson has written six books and aims to highlight some of the city's greatest creations and the people responsible for them.
“The point I’m trying to make (in the book) is that things that started in London…are things that we’ve exported to America,’’ Johnson said.
When asked about two of England’s most famous creations, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Johnson sided with Keith and Mick.
“I would have to say The Rolling Stones if only for the fact that they have a higher energy level,’’ he said.
In the book, he notes preferring Keith Richards over Mick Jagger, but jokingly apologized to Jagger on Thursday.
“He is equally magnificent,’’ Johnson said.
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