Yesterday I travelled from the English countryside to the… English countryside via the London 2012 opening ceremony technical rehearsal. This post contains pictures and commentary and stuff related to the ceremony (as well as being tldr), so if you want to enjoy the opening ceremony spoiler-free on Friday, you probably shouldn’t read on.
I’ve been visiting my Grandma in Devon for the past few days; I hadn’t seen her in almost two years, and my graduation (yeah, I graduated!) coincided with her 90th birthday. It was great to see her, but kind of sad to see how much she has aged. She is constantly making references to passing on, and is becoming increasingly forgetful. But all in all, she is still going strong for someone who was born in 1922, (both her brother and her first husband were killed in the Second World War) bearing in mind she lives by herself.
On the car journey home from Devon we were battling against the clock to arrive in time for me to arrive at the Olympic park. I live two tube stops away from where the majority of the events are taking place, and had applied to work there, before I realising I couldn’t go the whole summer without paid work, especially in my graduation year. Each month that passed since the interview, I received an email saying something like “you’re still in the running!” “we’ll get back to you soon” and the like. A couple of weeks ago they sent me an email to the effect of “we don’t have a position for you yet, but we do have a free ticket for you to the opening ceremony rehearsal!” How could I say no to something like that? Upon arriving home yesterday, I realised I would have to print out my ticket to take along with me to gain entrance to the stadium. I did this quickly, and arrived at the park to find that I had printed out the wrong page. I scrambled to find someone who could help me, and essentially had to blag my way in. But it worked! One of the Games Makers just handed me a ticket after briefly looking at my papers. I was in!
There has been a huge scandal in Britain about security at the Games. To summarise, LOCOG contracted a company to supply security for the Olympic venues, and a few weeks ago, the company admitted there was no way they could provide the number of security officers provided. This was hugely embarrassing for planning committee, and the British Government itself, who responded by drafting in British Army troops. There will be more British armed forces serving at the Olympic Games than are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This will undoubtedly make the visitors and organisers of the Games feel safe, but their screening process for visitors to something as important as the opening ceremony rehearsals (the first time members of the public have entered the Olympic Stadium) is virtually non-existent. That said, I’m more than happy the guy took a chance on me!
Once inside (having bought a £10 programme) I discovered that I had perfect seats.
I’m not going to say too much about the actual ceremony; the organisers created a hashtag (#savethesurprise) to discourage us from sharing our pictures online… so I imagine that hashtag will be the be exactly the opposite, a place FOR spoilers to gather. Regardless, I will share a few pictures for you to deconstruct and for personal posterity.
A sunkissed cloud.
These are supposed to be Olympic rings…
By far the most ridiculous/shocking moment is below. It’s not completely clear from my photo, but let’s just say “He Who Must Not Be Named” is 50 feet tall and facing off against 50 Mary Poppinses.
I know. Right.
What followed was a upbeat dance along to some of the biggest British tunes of the past decades. In spite of the all the criticism, hype, glitter, glow sticks and inevitable comparisons to Beijing 2008, it was a great way to cap it all off. We were told there were lots of bits for Friday they weren’t going to show us, so there’s still plenty more to see too. All in all the music, the execution, and the excitement ensured that for one night at least, I was proud to be British. I really can’t wait for the Games to start now!