I hadn’t planned to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony. I’m not a fan of organised sport, so obviously the Olympics is not my cup of tea - I generally refer to it as the Great Egg and Spoon Race. But I was working late at home on Friday night, and had come to an end just as I knew it was starting, so I thought I would stick on the tv and give it a chance.
And most unexpectedly, I was impressed. For a start, there was no sport, which was great. It was also uniquely British – no other country would choose to celebrate the things that Danny Boyle chose, and I like that. It was a good show. And most unexpectedly, there was humour. These sorts of things are usually super-serious, nothing but pomp and ceremony, and viewers usually find the humour in it by pricking that pomposity. But the inclusion of the excellent Mr Bean sketch, and the Queen’s parachuting were completely unexpected, and did a brilliant job of lightening the mood and making it less pompous. A great move, and very daring! And full marks to the Queen for joining in.
But the things that impressed me most were actually towards the end. The choice of people who carried in the Olympic flag was remarkable – when I heard the name Doreen Lawrence, I was really surprised. But I loved that the opportunity was taken to acknowledge people who are actually making the world a better place, as opposed to the Olympics, which is meant to be about that, but isn’t really. We could argue all day about who was or wasn’t worthy of it (probably about Shami Chakrabati), but it was a great idea, and I loved it. And then the inclusion of Mohammed Ali, a man once so great, but now unable to stand on his own, speak, or even smile for the event. The Olympics is all about stronger, faster and higher, but those things are fleeting, and I found Ali’s inclusion a poignant reminder of mortality.
And then I loved the fact that Danny outfoxed all of the bookies by using a group of young athletes to light the flame, rather than any of the famous names from the past. It was nice to beat the media, and do something that no-one expected. And the cauldron was a very nice piece of art itself.
I will of course admit that I didn’t watch all of it – the parade of the nations was more interesting than I had expected, but I still did some wandering in and out at that stage. But I did watch most of it.
So good work Danny, an unexpected pleasure!