With the Olympic flame extinguished, the last chapter in the biggest story of the Games can finally be told. I have withheld the conclusion to Wenlock-gate until now, fearing it would overshadow the entire global festival and relegate Bolt, Phelps, Farah, Hoy and Ennis to mere footnotes in a chapter of Olympic history that could so easily have been entitled not “London 2012” but “Where the hell was the mascot?”
As most of the world surely knows, this blog broke the sensational news that Wenlock was nowhere to be found at the Olympic Park on the first Sunday of the Games. It then stayed ahead of the chasing international media pack by reporting a rare sighting and raising serious questions about Wenlock’s welfare before finally, if regretfully, publishing a hard-hitting report of his shameless showboating.
Lesser news outlets may have rested on their laurels at that point and waited for the Pulitzers to pile up. But this blog forged fearlessly ahead. It returned to the Olympic Park last week determined to find the mysterious mascot and confront him over his erratic antics. With the help of an expert Wenlock-tracker, I visited the spot where he was last seen. But it was eerily empty. In a quiet corner at the other end of the park, however, we finally found some traces of our quarry.
Like any celebrity, Wenlock has “people”. A posse of volunteers stood guard at a sign that proclaimed he would appear later that evening. Being a big shot, Wenlock did not turn up on time. He was a whole 15 minutes late. He then sent his personal assistant Bianca onto a stage to whip a crowd of youngsters into a frenzy ahead of his arrival. The reclusive blob of cooled molten metal deigned to appear only when everyone had yelled his name several times.
He proceeded to show off to the crowd, flooring Bianca in a shock pseudo-judo move. In the best traditions of investigative journalism, I managed to capture some grainy undercover footage of the incident:
As children queued to have their photo taken with Wenlock, I challenged Bianca about his behaviour. In the interests of fairness, I have to note that Bianca appeared to have good answers to a lot of my questions. She pointed out that the sign stated clearly where and when Wenlock could be found each day. I boldly suggested Wenlock could have tweeted his appearances in advance so that more people would know how to find him. I even went so far as to allege that Wenlock may not be doing his own Twitter, as his paws did not seem well suited to mobile telephone keypads. Bianca calmly explained that “no one of importance” handled their own Twitter account.
In response to my suggestion that London 2012 could have employed several Wenlocks, she said there could be only one. (She may have been channelling Queen, who seem to have been a favourite in the soundtrack of London 2012). Apparently this same rule is followed by Disney in their theme parks. A leading authority on these matters has told me there is only one Mickey “in the house of mouse” at any one time.
Nevertheless I remained determined to confront Wenlock himself. I have asked questions of world leaders. I have covered wars. But as child after child hugged Wenlock and beamed at having a picture taken with him, I confess that my nerve faltered. Even the brave boys of our armed forces wanted to get a photo with the irascible renegade. In the face of such great affection, I could not find it in my heart to grill the girder offshoot. When I finally came face-to-camera with this one-eyed wonder, I decided it was time to embrace the Olympic spirit and shook his paw to seal our reconciliation. Some may even allege that I joined Wenlock in an Usain Bolt-style celebration. But photographic evidence of any such shenanigans will remain even more elusive than Wenlock himself.
As Wenlock heads off into the London sunset to join other former Games mascots in a life free of official burdens, this blog wishes him well and thanks him for providing material for several posts which might otherwise have required something resembling actual journalism.