Richard Willis's Blog

First for local news and first for comment

London 2012 Olympics

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last week but I have been extremely busy at work in support of the Olympic games. As well as my more usual “day job” I was also involved in marshalling the Olympic Torch Relay through Uxbridge. However, I did find time on Friday night to watch the opening ceremony and what a fantastic spectacle it was! The concept of telling the story of the best of British history was original and at times mind blowing. I was amazed as the green fields were stripped away to set the scene for the industrial revolution, wowed as the chimneys rose from the ground, and truly staggered at the beauty and ingenuity behind the concept of the forging of the Olympic rings and them coming together overhead.

The NHS scene was beautiful and fantastic for the participation of kids from Great Ormond Street Hospital. Anything which raises the profile of the hospital and the great work it does for sick children is well worthwhile. I would imagine that the worldwide profile it received on Friday night will boost its donations income for a while. The dropping in of so many Mary Poppins figures to banish the demons of children’s stories was as unexpected as it was delightful.

The Bond sketch was also inspired. I expect that many people, like me, had thought that the Palace scene would include a look-alike playing the Queen and were as stunned as I was when the REAL Queen turned around and said “Good evening Mr Bond”. To see her playing a full part in the sketch alongside Daniel Craig was a big surprise. Let’s not forget that HM Queen Elizabeth is Head of State of 16 different nations taking part in the Olympics, plus several British Overseas Territories which also compete in their own right.

Rowan Atkinson injected a further dose of humour into the event, reprising his Mr Bean character in the Mike Oldfield section. He is a face instantly recognisable around the world in a role which needs no translation. I was less convinced of the relevance of Mohammed Ali or the musical contribution of Sir Paul McCartney. Both are considerably past their best and Mohammed Ali didn’t appear to be aware of where he was or what he was doing. However, that is a minor criticism.

The end of the ceremony was breathtaking. Having David Beckham and Sir Stephen Redgrave bringing the Olympic flame on the final leg of its journey was great but passing the flame to the younger generation was simply brilliant. I was wondering what the copper containers were all about and could not see how the flower-like structure they were placed on would work but when they started to rise and form the cauldron I could only say “wow” and then “wow” again at the brilliance of the concept. How much more relevant it was to have each competing nation bring in a part of the cauldron which then unites to form the receptacle of the flame than have a single bowl which has no use after the Games finish. I understand that at the end of the Olympics each of the 204 nations will get to take home their copper container to keep.

I do not share the negative and rather silly views of the critics of the whole event. Some people are very quick to criticise and moan about these Olympic Games. The nitpicking and complaining from some quarters have almost become an Olympic sport in their own right! In my opinion the opening ceremony was a great skate through British history and some of our key achievements and values. No one party owns the NHS or industrial capitalism and there are people on the left who will laud the enterprise of the early pioneers of capitalism just as there are many on the right who value and support the NHS and the principle that it remain free at the point of use. Three cheers for Danny Boyle and the team which put together such a magnificent and unique opening ceremony. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Let’s now get behind all of our athletes and make these the best games for all participants but especially the British and Commonwealth ones! I have tickets for both the main Olympics (Women’s Hockey) and the Paralympics (Wheelchair Fencing) and am looking forward to attending my first Olympic Games. Since it is in Rio di Janeiro next time, I doubt it will be my last!



July 30, 2012 - Posted by | International, National

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