9008714874?profile=originalIn 2012, London is having one of the most exciting years in its history, with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this past June and now the 2012 Olympic Games starting on 27 July. But are Londoners proud? Do they realise how lucky they are? Are they embracing the summer of fun or whinging? Well...

The Royal Wedding in 2011 was a good 'excitement barometer' to test the public's ability to embrace a national celebration. Yes, we whinged really impressively leading up to the big day last April, but when it came I was in central London and found a sea of smiling faces. People were just plain old-fashioned happy. We waved flags, we danced in Hyde Park and sat outside pubs in the sunshine smiling at each other. I know it sounds like the normally cynical average Brit must have been brainwashed, but the sight of the royal couple, who actually appear to love each other dearly, made us all feel warm inside and has seemed to set the tone for this year. More recently, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations didn't enjoy the same sunny weather – it rained all weekend – but all those  Union Jack umbrellas kept us patriotic and proud as, royalist or not, we all love a grandmother.

So where's the personal face of the London 2012 Olympics? We don't have a beautiful princess or a smiling granny to unite us but once the games start, hopefully the athletes will give us a connection to sports we don’t understand yet.

Buying tickets for the games has been complicated, to say the least, with many pages of small print to put off the most determined sports fans. We could apply for tickets last year and the long, drawn-out process meant ballots for popular events and money being deducted from our bank accounts before being told which tickets we'd actually bought. And now we receive daily e-mails telling us tickets are still available which only irks those who really wanted them last year and can't be bothered to try again now.

There's a London 2012 Festival going on right now, but I doubt too many Londoners are paying attention; there just seems to be strange events popping up wherever you need to be and getting in your way such as these "Surprises Streb" performers appearing in front of major landmarks all day long on this past Sunday 15 July. I am, however, looking forward to the touring inflatable Stonehenge coming to town soon.

Speaking of delays, Londoners are being asked to change their commuting habits to allow the public transport network to cope with the million extra journeys that are expected every day this summer. That's a 25% increase in passengers, so something has got to give - and we're all hoping it's not the Tube signalling system, which generally chooses busy times to have problems. An excellent website has been set up – www.getaheadofthegames.com– to help us understand the busiest areas and most crowded times of the day on the Underground. We're all familiar with  the morning and evening commuter rush hours, but this summer will have a third rush hour in the evening as those visiting Olympic events head home/to hotels at the end of the day.

At this stage we should have already trialled our alternative routes to see if it works well, but Londoners are generally still sticking their heads in the sand, choosing not to believe the projected increase in passenger numbers - many reckon they have to get to work to answer a phone. We're being advised to consider working from home some days, and it's ridiculous to hear the suddenly conscientious work ethic from commuters who couldn't possibly use a computer and phone at home instead of the office. I've spoken to an advertising manager who tells me he can't make those calls out of the office as if being seen to shout into a phone makes your work more important than fulfilling the same duties at home. If you're a doctor or a surgeon, well, yes, please do kick up a fuss and get into work - but the rest of us really should learn to be flexible. Some are citing their bosses as being unwilling to allow them to work from home, suggesting they can't be trusted to actually get the job done - which probably says more about Londoners' worth ethic than their other cries for understanding.

I live in an East London Olympic host borough, and my neighbours can't believe they won't be able to drive to the shops near the Olympic Park over the summer. And I feel confident they'll still give that drive a go in early August and we won't hear the end of it when the journey can't be completed.

The city itself is looking good right now, although the constant rain can "do one" as we'd all like to wear our summer fashions. The shops have stopped selling summer clothes already and are stocked for autumn, as it just didn't seem worth their while waiting any longer.

So back to those questions I asked at the start. Right now, I don't think we do know how lucky we are. I've been trying to tell my daughter that the Olympics will never happen in London again in my lifetime and we need to embrace the fun, yet most of the kids at her school don't even know when the games begin. Thankfully she at least is paying attention, since I'm part of the volunteer cast for the Olympics opening ceremony and she'll be staying up late to watch me on the telly (sadly, I can't tell you what I'll be doing or that would spoil the surprise. You'll just have to watch and look out for me).

Just as with the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee, there are plenty of souvenirs on sale but as the 'brand' is so well protected it is mostly official sponsors selling us London 2012 stuff. On the Olympic Park there's the biggest McDonald's in Europe and a bridge from the tube station has being completely covered in Coca Cola branding. We may well balk at the idea of fizzy pop and junk food as sporting sponsors but the 1948 London Olympics had Craven A cigarettes as a sponsor so I guess we should see this as progress.

9008715680?profile=originalSpeaking of the Olympic Park, G4S, the security firm who should have employed and trained all the new security guards, have got it more than wrong by not employing or training enough people, so the armed forces are now managing the security here. As I go to the park very regularly for rehearsals, I can say the news stories of them being angry about doing menial jobs is blown all out of proportion, as the worse that happens to them right now is a woman complains about having her makeup taken from her if it's over 100 milliliters. It's either that or being bombed in Helmand - and, for now, the Olympic assignment seems pretty cushy by comparison.

On another security question, I certainly wouldn't be happy if the MoD had put long range missiles on top of my home, as they have to some in East London, but I think generally we'd rather feel safe and I'm not hearing a lot of fear about terrorism, as we're a whingy but usually positive city - we generally don't let our fears rule our lives.

Many Londoners just want to get away from it all, but very few have enough holiday time to take the whole of the Olympics and Paralympics dates off work, so will have to accept our city is going to be incredibly busy but that the people who are coming here want to enjoy what we have on offer. I hope like the royal celebrations, which were hard to gauge beforehand, once the Olympic Games start we will get behind Team GB and enjoy the moment. It'll be over far too quickly.

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site (part of the New York Times Company) and is also a Visit Britain Super Blogger. She fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen's. You can follow Laura on Twitter at @AboutLondon.

Photos: Wenlock and Mandeville London 2012 Mascots in the Olympic Stadium © ODA / Surprises Streb © The Department for Culture, Media & Sport / Tube © Qsimple / Olympic Stadium © stewartcutler

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  • Great article...made me thirsty for a pint of Old Speckled Hen....regret it will not be in a London pub but my local liquor store carries a few cans...Beckham should have been selected for Team GB.

  • Thanks Allie. I'm just as capable of whinging but recent experience of major celebrations tells me we'll get it together in time and we'll enjoy ourselves so the whinging is unnecessary.

  • It's valuable to read a British point of view on the Olympics. You have a good attitude!

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