Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic launch

Last night, compelled by idleness and curiosity, I stayed up and watched the Olympic Games opening ceremony right to the bitter end. I was glad I did. It was an original perspective on Britain and things British which are worth appreciating and affirming, all spiced with a good measure of self-deprecating good humour. It was at every level a technical tour de force, involving over eight thousand people in an hour long pageant spectacle, before the lengthy athletes' parade and Olympic ceremonies began. It blended old fashioned  theatrical ingenuity on a grand scale with the use modern multimedia technologies.

It was impossible to tell if it went exactly to plan, as there was so much to register going on at the same time. A blend of disciplined organisation, made many components of the event appear more spontaneous than they actually were. The Olympic flame was delivered by honoured Olympian athletes and handed over to seven up and coming youngsters for the lighting of the Olympic cauldron in the stadium where it will burn for the length of the games.

The spectacle of so many people of all ages working well together to proclaim good will and welcome to the world was in its own right an inspiring message about our kind of patriotism. I was amused to hear on this morning's news some reactionary politician denounce the ceremony as unworthy because it was full of lefty multi-culturalism. Tell that to the Queen, I thought to myself - so many of the themes and values of her messages over the past sixty years as head of state were embodied in the celebration we saw.

It's been pleasing to hear positive media reactions to the opening ceremony from around the world, even if some found it all a little bewildering, requiring  more attention than usual to de-code. I suspect that Danny Boyle's production, although unique and unrepeatable will be re-visited many times once it is out there for viewing on video, and provide a lot more food for thought about what we value most.

Needless to say, much of the rest of the day has been spent languishing in front of the TV, channel hopping from one broadcast Olympic sport to another, out of curiosity as much as anything, but finally driven to switch off by too much commentators' repetitious drivel. If only there was an option to turn off the word-noise, but not the sound effects!

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