Friday, September 14, 2012

A Golden Ticket

This is the blog post you’ve all been waiting for.

Yes, that’s right. I cut my toenails last week and Adam had a haircut. I’m pretty sure that’s what you all wanted to know? Right?

Hmm. I have a nagging feeling that there was something else I said I’d blog about.

Oh that’s right! THE OLYMPICS! Let me tell you a little story about Olympic Tickets.

A 'Golden Ticket'

"Wouldn't it be something, Charlie, to open a bar of chocolate and see a Golden Ticket glistening inside!" 

"It certainly would, Grandpa."

(From Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl)
Last year, Olympic tickets were allocated through a ballot system, where Brits could apply for tickets up to their nominated monetary value in their selection of sports. 2.9 million tickets were allocated, but somewhere around 20,000 people who applied got nothing, while others ended up with tickets to events that weren't their top choice. Payment was taken automatically, so if they had changed their mind it was too bad. In July 2011, another 900,000 tickets were sold to those who had missed out in the first round – including 10,000 synchronised swimming tickets that didn’t exist…

In January 2012, a website was set up to allow people to buy or sell unwanted tickets. It crashed within hours of opening, and finally re-opened 11 days later – but only for selling back unwanted tickets. In May 2012, the organisers of the Olympics (LOCOG) announced that they had another 900,000 tickets to sell, with priority given to those who had missed out in the two previous ballots. There were still many Britons who missed out for the third time, and there was widespread  frustration over the long, drawn-out process, and the lack of communication about just how many tickets would be available.
English disgruntlement
(Picture from
This information is not to bore you senseless, but to set the scene. Tickets were well hard to come by, innit? (I’m so English! Who needs the Kiwi ‘real’ or ‘eh’ when you could have the English ‘well’ and ‘innit’?!) (Joking! I promise I will never use them again.). Tickets were scarce as hen’s teeth. Well, actually, now that I think of it, there were millions of tickets and I’ve never seen a hen with teeth. Oh English Language and your crazy idioms, how you have failed me. Er anyway, what I’m trying to say is that no-one we knew had tickets, and no one writing in to the newspapers seemed to have tickets. The English were like Charlie Bucket, yearning for one of Willy Wonka’s Golden Tickets.

At the end of May, a supposed final lot of tickets were announced. (There was yet another “final” round of tickets a few weeks after that.) They would go on sale at 11am on May 23. We girded our loins. This could be it.

There are times when being a housewife is great. I studied the sessions of Olympic sport in which top Kiwi athletes would participate. I researched individual athletes and analysed the medal predictions. I worked out which days of sport would have the most bang for buck. I created an account with the 2012 ticket website. I timed how long it would take to log-in and perform a search to find the sessions I wanted. And at 10.56am on May 23, my fingers were poised, ready to strike.
Ready? Steady? GO!
At 11am I was logged in and pressing refresh every few seconds. At 11.01am, tickets became available. I clicked on the event, day, and session that I wanted. Only two categories of ticket were available, with a significant price difference. Like a true housewife, I chose the more expensive of the two, and put them in my ‘basket’. There was a tense 30 second wait to see if the tickets were actually available (I will explain that soon), and then there they were, two tickets to a day of medal races in Rowing. I quickly paid for them, and there they were. Metaphorically, of course. Adam and I had two tickets to an Olympic final. And it was only 11.03am.

I then searched for some Badminton tickets. You search, pick the session you want, then click on the ticket category which suits you (no-one knew what the categories would mean, other than a more expensive ticket would hopefully ensure a better seat). Only ticket categories that had ‘available’ tickets were shown. Once you select the tickets you want, you then had to wait to see if those tickets were actually available. (I know! Who knew 'available tickets' might not actually be available?! What a trick!) And if they were, you would then have the option of buying them. If you decided to return to the main menu, you had to go through the whole process again.

At 11.04, the rest of Britain logged in to the website. My rowing search took 30 seconds to see if tickets were available. At the worst point, one of my badminton searches took 45 minutes to ‘process’ only to return and tell me there were no tickets available in the session I had chosen. I tried six searches (logged on as both Adam and myself in two different browsers, for the geeks out there), and at 1.30pm I gave up. However, I did manage to buy two £20 tickets to a morning session in the knockout round of Badminton, and we later purchased two Paralympic swimming tickets. We were Charlie Bucket, except we had six golden tickets...

The next morning, there was a country-wide outcry at the appalling, continuing débâcle that was London 2012 ticketing. 
Don't mess with a mad Englishman
(Still from Wes Craven's Fantastic Mr Fox)
Most people had spent, as I had, up to 45 minutes just waiting to find out if each selection of tickets was available, only to end up with nothing.

“Appalling!” we agreed publicly, shaking our heads in sympathetic disappointment.

“Hurrah!” we said privately, and eagerly checked our letterbox.

See it there? Our Very English Letterbox!

 And that is the story of how we came to have Olympic Tickets.

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