I thoroughly enjoyed the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony last night. While I couldn’t actually sit in the Stadium – which I imagine would have been totally amazing – I had a pretty good seat on my sofa with snacks and drinks at my disposal.
Like everyone else who hadn’t been privvy to the dress rehearsal, I had no idea what to expect. I have seen some of Danny Boyle’s films and so know he has style when it comes to cinematography, but this was a live show. And it was a live show that had to show the world what London was all about.
It was quite a spectacle wasn’t it? A bit abstract in places – lots of contemporary dance – but I think I got the vast majority of the references to our history, our industry, our politics, our music, our literature, our technology, our way of life. I thought it was appropriate to include a silence for the two world wars, as well as the mention of the London Bombings.
I was so pleased there was comedy. Our sense of humour came across in little bits throughout the evening. From the more obvious Mr Bean to the Skydiving Queen (I really hope some people believe the Queen did that for real!) and lots of little amusing references that perhaps only us Brits will have understood. Speaking of the Queen, that short with Daniel Craig was just awesome – I understand that was made by the BBC – well done. I actually couldn’t believe that was the actual Queen acting. Very good ma’am (like jam).
I reckon Danny Boyle summed us up pretty well. He made comment on world affairs, he took a little fun out of us and how we do things, he showed the world that GB has many things to be proud of.
And the music. The music was just fantastic. Brilliant use of the LSO, Grimethorpe Colliery Band (a very British event had to include a brass band!), Mike Oldfield, Paul McCartney, Arctic Monkeys, Emeli Sandé (loved her singing Abide with Me), and many others. I am absolutely getting that soundtrack.
Of course at the end of the event (after the very long march by the athletes, which while it might take some time I think it is an important part of the “ceremony” element so each country is obviously present for the oaths and opening), we had the culmination of the torch relay. Wow. I expect many of you were wondering what those copper petals were as the athletes walked in, we did moot the idea that they were going to use them to make the cauldron, and they did. Just beautiful. I felt quite attached to that bit for obvious reasons, I was part of that one month ago (although I was obviously not included in any of the torch relay montages), one of the 8,000 people who were honoured to carry the torch through our streets, getting the country ready for the Olympics and showing off the beacon to the world. Fabulous.
It was totally right for Sir Steve Redgrave to take the flame into the stadium. Handing the beacon to a number of young people, sports starts of the future nominated by sportsmen and women we know well was just genius. No-one famous, no-one more worthy than anyone else, but paying it forward. Inspire a Generation – the tagline for these games and a challenge for us all – start as we mean to go on.
An absolutely stunning performance.
Now… bring on the sport. Over the course of these two weeks there are something like 302 gold medals up for grabs in sports we know well and some that we don’t play much over here. And over 200 countries have sent sportsmen and women (nice use of the Suffragettes…) to London to do their best to get them. They’ve put in the training – in whatever facilities are available to them – and are here to compete in the biggest and greatest sporting event for four years. They are here to show the world that they can win. Let the Games begin.