I’ll be honest – I was indifferent about the Olympics. That’s a bit of a brave thing to admit – I fully expect a gaggle of Stella McCartney kit wearing people to hammer on the front door as soon as I post this blog, demanding: “What?! Even the beach volleyball?” Especially the beach volleyball.
The run-up to the big event seemed to descend at times into ‘Bah humbug-ness’. LOCOG patrolled the countryside, threatening legal action against Maureen in the village florists for her window display of the Olympic rings she painstakingly made from pipe cleaners and papermache, and sending strongly worded letters to Trevor in the travel agents for using the word ‘Olympics’ in a sign.
Oi, LOCOG – you don’t own the word ‘Olympics’. Get over yourself.
Incidents like this threatened to indulge the worst elements of our little country – health and safety gone mad, corporate greed and out of control nitpicking.
The arrival of the Olympic torch lifted my spirits a little bit. There was a slight blip when they gave Will I Am the torch, only for him to tweet throughout the experience. I think we can all admit that was a low moment for the human race as a whole. But British spirit prevailed – if there is one thing we are good at, it’s getting the bunting out, painting our faces and feeling patriotic.
And last night, the big moment finally arrived – the opening ceremony. And it was amazing.
I won’t lie – there were a couple of suspect moments. The Victorians’ dancing was a bit interesting during the Industrial Revolution piece. But Kenneth Branagh was his usual hilarious self. I like to think that in rehearsals the following conversation took place between him and the director:
Director: “So, Kenneth, super excited that you’re here! Sorry again about having to scrap the Henry V soliloquy you enthusiastically offered to deliver – we’ve only got four hours though, I’m sure you understand. Anyway, while we are transforming the countryside stage into an epic industrial scene, we thought it would be nice if you and the other Victorians could do a little dance!”
The K Man: “A little dance?”
D: “Yes! We’re super excited about it. Not much dancing – just a little arm/hand jig. Is totally down with the kids though.”
K Man: “No.”
D: “Oh. Well all the other Victorians will be doing it. What will you do instead?”
K Man: “I could look wistfully at the unfolding scene for five minutes?”
D: “Oh fine. But pull any of that ‘once more unto the breach, dear friends’ nonsense and we will kick you out, and you will miss the bit of David Beckham on a really fast boat.”
But apart from the Victorian interpretive dance, I thought it was spot on. The Bond/Queen bit was the best thing I’ve ever seen on TV. The bit with the NHS was a little bit strange, but our doctors and nurses are completely taken for granted, so it’s nice that they were showcased. I did giggle though when Voldemort and the Child Catcher appeared, only for the commentator to say: “Lots of children are scared of the hospital, so this is a good thing.” Associating a hospital stay with He Who Shall Not Be Named? Probably not the best way to reassure a terrified five-year-old.
The bit where all the different countries file in was, well, long. They’re all athletes – make them get a trot on! I reckon that bit could have been wrapped up in 10 minutes if we had made them all sprint.
And I wish I could comment on the event after that, but I fell asleep when the countries beginning with ‘E’ started to come in. I did, however, notice that there were quite a lot of comments this morning expressing disappointment and confusion about Paul McCartney popping up. I honestly can’t believe people were surprised. Miss an opportunity to bellow ‘Hey Jude’ at a packed audience? Not on your nelly.
Today was a revelation – there were sporting events on the telly! In all the excitement, I forgot that the Olympics is about sport. It all looks brilliant – the only thing I felt slightly let down the spirit was Mark Cavendish’s less-than-nice outburst to a journalist. Yes, you just lost, and yes, you must be disappointed. But there’s no need to be rude.
After all, it’s just not very British. And if there’s one thing that everyone is feeling right now, it’s proud to be British.