Like 27 million other in the UK, we were glued to the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday. Most of the comments seem to be in favour of the event except for a few strange people who seem to be offended by references to the NHS. If all 27 million viewers of this event in this country were lined up and everyone who had benefited from the NHS in some form or another was asked to put their hands up there would be very few people without their hands in the air don’t you think?
I thought I might share a sort of Twitter like running commentary of the event as it played out Chez Hargreaves Towers. It’s quite long but, rest assured, not as long as the athletes parade.
Family are settling down and introductory film begins. FOW2 whoops – “It’s Benedict Cumberbatch!” Even though there is no sign of Martin Freeman the evening is looking very promising already.
Frank Turner entertains the crowd much to the delight of FOW 2. I am concerned that she may be peaking too soon.
The stadium looks magnificent with animals and children and peasants and things. A short film plays with every British cultural reference you could think of, backed by an equally cool soundtrack. As I suspected, it seems it was always a good idea to put someone from the North West of England in charge of this.
The largest bell in Europe is rung by a mod who turns out to be Bradley Wiggins. HOH informs us that Mr Wiggins lives just outside Wigan. rest of family struggle to understand relevance of this to anything at all really. Wiggo (as he is winningly nicknamed) leaves as quickly as possible looking like a man who would rather be back on his bike.
A young boy sings Jerusalem. I burst into tears.
Rather handsome man in very high top hat, strolls through what is now turning into a bleak industrial landscape. He puffs his chest out and begins to recite from “The Tempest” It’s Kenneth Branagh! (He looks a lot better than he did when I last saw him. He was playing Wallander and appeared to be wiping his armpit with a lace curtain) Now he is Brunell, the great engineer. And he’s reciting Shakespeare! Without looking at the words in his book once! FOW2 is fanning herself gently.
There are now too many cultural references to count – Suffragettes, Windrush, Sergeant Pepper, Chelsea Pensioners, Jarrow Crusade. The whole thing is looking like a sort of test film to be shown to people applying for British Citizenship. How many of these very British things can you name? FOW 1 has to be dissuaded from singing “The Red Flag” As Golden Olympic Rings are hoisted into the air I can feel my bottom lip wobbling. A pattern is definitely emerging here.
Then Daniel Craig – in Bond mode takes the Queen of England to the stadium in a helicopter from which she appears to parachute into her seat. Am astonished. Do the cartoon thing of polishing my glasses and checking the screen. She NEVER does anything like this. NEVER. Did Gin O Clock help? Who knows but well done your Maj.
National Anthem is sung by deaf choir of children who sign it beautifully. I burst into tears again.
A lovely tribute to the NHS is now the centre of lots of great moments. These include dancing doctors and nurses (real ones mind you), Voldemort, The Child Catcher, beautiful JK Rowling reading from Peter Pan and children bouncing on their beds as flying Mary Poppinses chase away the monsters. As Good Christian Men rejoice plays I fill up again. Children point at me and laugh. HOH passes me loo roll to deal with copious tears.Family are also questioning the wisdom of FOW1 putting “Stick that in your cake hole Mitt Romney!” on Facebook. He ignores us, does it anyway and gets 142 “likes”
Rowan Atkinson is then very funny as Mr Bean, which is a sentence I never thought I would write.
There is then a sort of “yoof” section which is a great excuse for us to show the world that British people have written all the greatest pop songs EVER and remind then that Bowie, the Beatles, The Stones, The Sex Pistols, Amy Winehouse et all are well-you guessed it-BRITISH. Hah! As offspring are arguing about relative merits of above we get to see Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web. And British people are your actual geniuses as well! Am now getting quite jingoistic and enquire from children about how to send direct message to Mitt Romney. Children sensibly inform me that they have no idea and quietly move my phone away from me.
David Beckham. Suit. Torch. Speedboat. Enough said.
A tribute to those no longer with us as thousands of beloved family photos flash on screen. Emily Sande sings Abide With Me while beautiful dancers dance their beautiful dance. Beautiful hymn. Beautifully sung. HOH takes loo roll from me as we both sniffle.
Athletes parade. Lasts forever. Pour wine. Eat nuts. Amuse ourselves by trying to spot imaginary countries marching in – Narnia, Tatooine, Allezoop. Mood is also lightened by spotting German dignitary apparently Nazi saluting their team. Does not look like high five to me. Spot Charles and Camilla in fits of giggles. Feel this is not unrelated. GB team come in. High level cheering. Spot Tom Daley. Cry again.
Arctic Monkeys play. FOW2 has to lie on the floor.
Beautiful Olympic cauldron is lit by young luscious unknown athletes. Brilliant! Am only slightly disappointed that it is not Harry Potter shouting “LUMOS”
Paul McCartney rocks “Hey Jude” Am fearing for FOW2’s health now.
And that is it. My favourite quote is from Danny Boyle. “I don’t believe in God but I believe in the people who do. This is their show, they really are the best of us.” And when I see how much of our heritage and history rests on the people of God, I can feel big dobby tears welling up again.