I've spent all week in queues of one form or another. On the way to a shoot in Dover we were brought to a standstill for over three hours in Lewisham. It was on the first day that London traffic lights had been "rephased" for the Olympics. By "rephasing" I presume they mean "someone's had a go at changing stuff but it's his first day so give him a chance …". The whole city was chaos.
The Twitterverse was humming with Tweeters warning of other "death jams". Sadly, they didn't warn me about the one in Acton as, just two days after Dover, I got stuck in a traffic jam that didn't move an inch for two hours. It was one of those ones that got so bad that everybody turns off their engines and gets on the roof of their car to have a look. The problem was predictable – another set of "rephased lights" that had been "rephased" to permanent red. Thank the Lord for the motorcycle cop who eventually turned up, assessed the situation and manually disabled the lights. He's probably been charged with tampering with Olympic facilities and been shipped of to Guantanamo. Meanwhile the Olympic "ZiL" lanes sit empty and desolate with the sound of threatening radio ads telling us that our houses will be confiscated if we dare to even look into them.
I have at least sorted this particular problem out. I have rented (for a very reasonable rate) former Olympic athlete Kriss Akabusi to sit in the passenger seat of my car for the next three weeks. I'm assuming that having an Olympian in my car allows me to use the lanes although Kriss's ear-splitting laugh is already making me long for the silence of the jams.
It's not just the roads that are falling apart. There is also much trouble in the ITV building on the South Bank, where my show is being made. Upon arrival in reception, you are normally given a pass and then told to go to a particular floor. This has always been something of a nightmare. There are 22 floors, and huge queues build up waiting for a lift before you set off on a journey that can take up to 15 minutes as your lift stops at every floor. Someone clearly decided that this was not good enough as an impressive new system was recently put into place. Electronic boxes appeared by the lifts. Supposedly you selected what floor you were going to and this machine would group a load of you off to the higher floors into one lift. It was a bit like a shared taxi system, except it didn't work. The system was in operation for about three weeks before it was abandoned and the usual chaos resumed.
I finally got home to find more trouble. My kids had painted Olympic rings on to a piece of card and hung it in the garden. They had decided that we were going to have a "family Olympics". I was livid. I ripped the whole thing down and chucked it on a bonfire. Did they not know the trouble this could get us into? One call from a snooping neighbour to the Olympic police and they would have a Swat team smash into our house and confiscate my MasterCards, my Pepsi-Cola, my Nando's black card … we could end up in jail for years for this kind of offence and then who would feed Kriss Akabusi?