In 2011 Samantha and I ran the Olympic games ticketing website gauntlet, and in the public ballot we came away with tickets for two Olympic events; hockey and table tennis. Then in the second round, getting up at 6am, Sam nabbed basketball, canoe sprint and volleyball. A good haul.
One year later and it was time for the games to begin. Day one of the London 2012 Olympics. After seven years of planning, preparations, new hotels, new venues, an excellent and fun ‘get ahead of the games’ campaign, the ticket buying fiasco, the hoo-ha over the logo and goodness knows what else, the time had come.
Pink signs adorned London stations, along with new snake like queuing systems. But on this morning it was all quiet, like the calm before the storm. The visitors hadn’t arrived yet and the Londoners were on holiday. London was empty, if only for a day.
Time for Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony. I turned on the HDTV, whacked up the volume and waited, with a half made cup of tea sitting in the kitchen. I had zero confidence this would be any good. The ten minute snippet at the end of the Beijing games made me embarrassed, I was convinced this would be more of the same.
And then it started. All that waiting over. Fuck Buttons opened the show, then Jerusalem, and then a field of green, filled with ploughs, sheep, cricket and maids. The olde time England.
Enter the industrial revolution. The dancing capitalists in top hats and Kenneth Brannagh as Brunel. To tribal music the fields were ripped up, rolled up, removed, the greenery torn apart. Out of the ground grew five huge chimney stacks. And in came workers, labourers. The country was built from the ground up, and in the middle a ring was forged. A huge glowing ring.
It began to rise, and from the edges of the stadium four more rings appeared, forming a giant Olympic logo in the centre of the stadium, burning bright, looking brilliant. Incredible. My draw dropped, I was astonished. This was simply brilliant, perfectly British and awesome, in all meanings of the word. I was bouncing with glee, and my Twitter stream was pouring with support. No one could quite believe it, Danny Boyle had pulled it off.
How to top that? What about James Bond with the actual queen, flying to the arena by helicopter and parachuting in to the Bond theme tune.
Next, a tribute to the NHS and children’s literature. Kids trampolines on lit up beds, as giant creatures swarmed the centre, until an army of Mary Poppins’s saved the day.
Enter pop culture, and a resounding tribute to the last five decades of british music, wrapped in a technological envelope of SMS, tweets and instant messaging. The culmination? The centrepiece house rises up to reveal Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Internet, live tweeting from the machine he invented the web on. My twitter stream exploded. Another astonishing thing no one could believe. Web geeks were united, as our hero became everyone’s hero. His tweet, one web, adorned the pixels the crowd held.
And now the Olympians, the athletes, alphabetically, for a few hours, country by country, a geography lesson and the realisation of how big the Olympics are: 204 countries are here, the world’s eyes are on us. A perfect time for a tea break and to check the Internet again, following along with everyone else, sitting quietly with Sam, but sharing the moment with the world.
And to the finale. Beckham arriving by speedboat down the Thames with the torch, handed to Redgrave, who runs it into the arena, as hundreds of bikers dressed as neon doves circle the stadium, whilst the Arctic Monkeys sing out.
Finally, the passing of the torch, to seven young athletes, who light the copper petals, which rise to form a beautiful symbolic Olympic torch. Queue fireworks. Magnificent.