A Stroll Along the Grand Union Canal

Friday 27 July, 2012

 

After seven years of waiting and having listened to all the comments and negative vibes about what was to happen in the opening ceremony, I have to say that I was seriously impressed.

 

To start with, the Olympic Stadium looks really impressive and is a crown in what was once a contaminated wasteland, in the East End of London. The regeneration that has been achieved will benefit the area, and the City, for many years to come.

 

The introduction to the London Olympics 2012 began with with a journey along the River Thames, from its source to the Olympic Park. On reaching the Olympic Stadium, the countdown began. The ceremony proper started with ‘Jerusalem’ being sung in the Olympic Stadium, and with Northen Ireland joining in with ‘Danny Boy’, from the Giants Causeway, through to the children of Edinburgh singing ‘Flower of Scotland’ to ‘Bread of Heaven’ in Wales, then returning to the Stadium, which had been transformed into England’s green and pleasant land, I began to get a real sense of what the Ceromony was going to be.

 

With cricket and football being played on the green grass lands of England, and children dancing around Maypoles, I felt we were taken back to a bygone era, where everyrhing was rosy. Edward Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ added so much to this scene. This soon changed, when men in suits and tall hats appeared and started to lay out plans for our future. Within moments, Glastonbury Tor spewed forth men and the grass was soon being ripped up, only to be replaced by many belching smokestacks; The Industrial Revolution was here. Amongst this change women appeared, parading with plackards with slogans about equality and the right to vote; The Suffragettes had arrived. With much of the grass being destroyed by the Industrial Revolution, there was a lot less green to be seen in the Stadium, but there were enough Poppy’s left to show the inhumanity and waste of The Great War. One of the crowning moments of the Industrial Revolution scene, was the forging of the Olympic Rings. Then it was a chance to show off the NHS with a great seen involving the staff of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, which culminated in the arrival of a number of Mary Poppins, who banished the Demons from the Children’s dreams. This was accentuated by a special appearance by Mike oldfield, performing an enriched version of his iconic ‘Tubular Bells’. We were then taken on a musical journey from the sixties through to the present day, which showed off some of this countries greatest musicians, and the sound of the TARDIS could also be heard. This concluded with an appearance by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. A piece concerning the victims of the July 7th Terror attacks, was moving and a little overwhelming, unless you were watching in the United States of America, where NBC cut the scene and replaced it with an interview with Michael Phelps. Losers!

 

With the introductions of the 200+ competing coutries, a special mention has to be made to the Czech Republic who arrived in blazers, shorts, wellington boots and umbrellas. Each countries flag was then ‘planted’ on Glastonbury Tor, before the Olympic Flag entered the Stadium. Another emotional moment ensued as the flag stopped before the fragile figure of the Great Muhammad Ali. It was hard to imagine that this thin and fragile man, was once the greatest athlete on Earth. A man who can no longer function without an aide by his side. The Olympic Flame was then transported, via a speedboat driven by David Beckham, to the Olympic Stadium, where it was feceived by England’s greatest Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave. It was he who took the flame and passed it on to seven young up-and-coming British athletes, who proceeded to take the flame around the Olympic Stadium. With their lap of honour complete, they then each took a lit torch and headed into the centre of the Olympic Stadium and put their torch to what looked like metal plant petals. As the seven torches lit the petals, the fire spread and soon all 204 petals were aflame, at which point they began to rise into the shape of a cauldron. The Olympic Flame was back in London, for the third time and, within moments fireworks lit up the Olympic Park.

 

I have left a lot out, like the Red Arrows flypast. Or, the performing of Vangelis’ ‘Chariots of Fire’, with Mister Bean adding his own unique talents to the score. Or, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who spoke just four words (Good evening, Mister Bond.) and Daniel Craig as James Bond in a short video filmed at Buckingham Palace, which eneded with them suppoesedly both parachuting into the Olympic Stadium. Or, various musical artists who added their talents to the proceedings. Or, the cast of countless volunteers that gave their time and effort to such a worthy cause. And Lord Sebastian Coe, who, despite ever mounting pressure over the past seven years, has managed to deliver so much.

 

I think that what Danny Boyle achieved, and pulled off, was one of the best opening ceremonies to any of the Modern Olympics… Ever!!!

 

Let the games begin!

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