The fact I have rarely mentioned the Olympics on my blog for the past seven years, would perhaps be a clear indication of my lack of interest in the sporting event arriving on these shores I call home. Although I was not even in the Kingdom during the last opening ceremony! However, with the Opening Ceremony having just taken place and myself having secured tickets for the football at Old Trafford. I feel extremely proud to be British but also extremely lucky to be attending the once in a lifetime event. Something my wife and I will cherish for the rest of our lives.
My secondary school History teacher at the start of our GCSE course made a statement. You cannot be considered a true citizen of your country, unless you know the history, in essence your history. I wholeheartedly agree with this view. History is an extremely important subject to grasp, understand and truly appreciate. Particularly as it forever has an impact on the present and future. My wife was asking me several questions during the opening segment of the ceremony. The industrial revolution was a major milestone in the history of Great Britain and this led to the country becoming the engine room of Europe. I enjoyed the performances and believe Boyle got the tone, colour, music, dancing perfect – set to a narrative telling the world the history of this great green and pleasant land and some of the fantastic contributions to everyday life. (The WWW is for everybody!) Boyle captured the essence of being British, with our quirky humour and at times stuffy outward appearance and attitude. The forging of the Olympic Rings were one of the many highlights. The clip of James Bond collecting Her Majesty The Queen from Buckingham Palace and escorting her via helicopter to the Olympic Park was pure genius and proves that our monarch, even while approaching her ninetieth birthday, still has a fantastic sense of humour. There were some great touches and I quite liked the modern day love story with all the text messages being flashed on screen. Jasmine Breinburg captured the limelight and mood of the nation, as the girl who had lost her iPhone on the tube. Then we had a montage of music from the fifties to the present day! I am sure I heard the noise of the TARDIS during Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Did you hear it too?
There are standard elements that need to be incorporated into every opening ceremony. The lighting of the Olympic Cauldron which will burn over the course of the sixteen days of competition. First though, we have all the athletes and support teams enter the stadium for an international parade. Michelle found this part boring, but I found it interesting to discover so many countries I have never heard of, many making their first or second appearance at the Games. I had been regularly checking Twitter throughout the ceremony to keep my finger on the pulse of national and international response to Boyle’s spectacular spectacular. A follower had mentioned that India would be following The Independent Athletes into the arena. Sure enough they arrived in their bright splendour of sparklingly yellow saris and turbans. I noticed a woman looking out of place, asking Michelle why she was not wearing the same outfit as the rest of the delegation. Something seemed wrong but I thought little more of the matter, as thirty seconds later we were onto the next country. I have to confess that I was not impressed with Trevor Nelson’s commentary throughout, he seemed in awe of BBC big hitters like Huw Edwards and Hazel Irvine. The reason he was chosen? As the local born across the road in Hackney? Sorry but even as a big fan of Nelson as a DJ, he was out of depth here and should have been tested on minor sporting events in the build up to 2012. (The mystery of the rogue woman walking with the Indian delegation was resolved a few hours later.)
My personal choice for lighting the cauldron would have been Daley Thompson. However, I enjoyed the build up of David Beckham driving (is that the right adjective?) a speed boat down the Thames to the Olympic Park. Sir Steve Redgrave then picked up the Torch but the ending was to be different and rightly so. A group of youngsters were hand picked by Olympic Legends to light the cauldron and in what fashion! Fitting for an event that was always sold to Inspire A Generation. Maybe, just maybe after the next two weeks (and subsequent Paralympic Games) the organisers will have succeeded in their dream. Their legacy will be how many Olympic Champions of tomorrow start their victory speeches, with “Back in 2012, I watched the Games in East London…”
[Image courtesy of Trevor Jolley]