She conceded a bright spot. "The only good thing is Stratford has been regenerated," she said of the east London area where Olympic Park has risen from what Hughes called "a hell hole."
"I live two minutes away from Stratford, and there's a lot of traffic down there," he said. While his commute to work in Brixton is the same as ever, "getting to places in my neighborhood is kind of a hassle."
Local grousing about big events that seem staged largely for out-of-towners is surely not limited to any one jurisdiction — as anyone in Baltmore in advance of last Labor Day's Grand Prix may remember. And there were those on Thursday who dismissed their fellow citizenry's complaints: Don't worry about the worrying, in other words.
Glasford Morgan, a retired broadcast engineer, is not going to let anyone, or any clouds, rain on his anticipation of the Games. Originally from Jamaica, he has lived here for 25 years and said he cannot wait to see countryman Usain Bolt break his own records.
"Now that the sun is shining, it brings out the best in the British," said Morgan, 63, who brought his 8-year-old grandson Kaieran Morgan to the torch relay. "If it was last week, it would be all gloom. So everybody is upbeat now and hopes it will be a success."
Clara Veneri-Thomas similarly is happy to welcome the Olympics to her adopted hometown. As an Italian who married a Brit and has lived here for 10 years, she has a unique insider-outsider perspective on the country's well-known reserve.
"They never used to do things like this," said Veneri-Thomas, showing off tiny I-heart-London earrings. "They're patriotic, but they don't show things too much."
A make-up artist, she is loving it all, the Stella McCartney-designed uniforms for British athletes, for example, and how her 6-year-old son's class has incorporated the Olympics into the school day
But even she has to say that the Games organizers haven't exactly covered themselves in glory when it comes to tickets. She has relatives who tried, and failed to get tickets, and believes many of them went to corporations or were packaged by travel agents and sold as blocks rather than individually. And, on a more macro level, she fears the Games will only deepen Britain's share of the on-going global financial woes.
"We are in a deep crisis," she said. "I think after the Olympics we'll be even further down."
Still, after some in the crowd that had gathered hours in advance for a fleeting sight of the torch, the arrival of the accompanying convoy drew loud cheers and seemingly every cell phone — by a child on his father's shoulders even — held high to capture it all.
First came vehicles flying the sponsors colors and logos, Coca-Cola and Samsung among them. People cheered from windows lining the route and a balcony of the Ritzy cinema, now showing The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spiderman among other movies. The Union Jack, in the hands of those in the convoy and those watching, fluttered in the midday brightness — and causing more than a few internal ripples as well.
"This feels like my hometown," an emotional Cohen said. "It's funny, I didn't think it would affect me. It's surprising to me that I've gotten into the Olympics."
When: 9 p.m. in London. That's 4 p.m. EST.
TV: Ch. 11 (coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. EST).
Cast: More than 15,000 expected to take part in "Isle of Wonder."