For months I have been bemoaning the effect that the Olympics and Paralympics will have on my day-to-day life for a few weeks this year, when it will take me longer to get to work and there will be thousands of people streaming past my front door to get to the equestrian and cross-country events that are taking place in Greenwich Park.
I didn’t know whether to stay put and batten down the hatches or simply flee to the relative calm of my mother’s house in Wales. Bloody Olympics. What an imposition. And I’m not even interested in sport.
Or at least that’s what I said until I switched on the news this morning and saw Ben Ainslie light the Olympic Torch at Land’s End and take it on the first leg of an epic 70-day journey around the UK, through crowds of people who just wanted to touch the torch itself.
Suddenly my cynicism melted away and I found myself, inexplicably, in floods of tears. Why was I so moved by this spectacle? Not because of all the hoo-ha and hype of the Olympics as a commercial event, but because of the symbolism of the Olympic flame.
You could see in the behaviour of those people who just wanted to get close to the flame, that it symbolises something much greater than a global sporting occasion. That there is something sacred about this flame. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I’d say it represents the coming together of humanity.
In a culture has been largely shorn of ritual - ironically it only seems to exist these days at sporting events or great national occasions such as royal weddings - here is evidence of the hunger for meaning, for a reason to congregate around a common purpose.
For the Greeks who created the Ancient Olympics, this flame was divine. It represented the fire that Prometheus had stolen from the gods to give to Man. In the modern era, the flame is kindled at the Temple of Hera at Olympia by the light of the sun, in a ritual overseen by the high priestess (played by a Greek actress), accompanied by 10 women representing the Vestal Virgins of Rome - the keepers of the sacred fire.
I did see the news coverage of this ceremony, which took place earlier this month, and was struck by its feminine grace and power. It reminded me of a time when women were the guardians of the divine, and the goddess was as important as the god.
There is also something enduringly hopeful about an eternal flame, an ever-burning light to guide us in the gloom. And that’s something we can all do with right now.
So I may not be watching the sport but I’ll certainly be glued to my TV screen to watch the Olympic Torch entering the Olympic Stadium up the road in Stratford. For that moment I will not be cynical; I will honour the arrival of the divine spark of the goddess!