Friday, 3 August 2012

Olympics Opening Ceremony - London 2012

It has taken 7 years, 2 regime changes and 6 bad summers in England, but finally the waiting and wondering is over, and the whetting and wonderment can begin. The Olympic Park is a mesmerising 'Green and Pleasant Land' with thousands of actors engrossed in their roles. It feels like someone has built a diorama then watered it with some Olympic-strength fertiliser.

Artificial clouds lap the Farmsvillesque village like not-so-subtle spy satellites. When it rains just before the off, the audience trace the raindrops skywards to see if it's special effects or if God really is pissing on our parade.

Bradley Wiggins, one of the most unlikely-looking sports stars ever, bongs the world's largest harmonically-charged bell to say y'ello to the 2012 London Olympics. Fresh(ish) from his tour de force Tour de France, he competes again in the Time Trial in the Olympics. It's heartening to see recycling rewarded.

There is so much to look at that we take on the persona of ADD kids, unable to focus on anything for more than a few seconds. Scouting around quickly there are Morris dancers (folk right off), an orchestra playing Elgar's 'Nimrod', 2 maids-a-tossing (apples), a water wheel and a village cricket match. A medieval Malinga has an LBW appeal turned down but the DRS system hasn't been invented yet so it can't be referred. Where's Billy Bowden when you need a questionable decision?

The British Isles are unified with children's choirs singing 'Jerusalem', 'Oh Danny Boyle', 'Flower of Scotland' and 'Bread of Heaven', all now sporting anthems. We are all cheering the same side this time though (except Scotland who will still cheer anyone but England).

The hypnotic Shipping Forecast highlights the British love of all things weather, and for a change doesn't interrupt the cricket. It doesn't exactly go down a storm with the tourists as it is Met with a cold front. You can already hear the Americans thinking “huh?” like they have just been told a joke. Lucky their Twitter feed can explain everything clearly, like Newsround does for children.

You say you want a revolution? Yeahhhhh I know. Although technically I don’t know much about the Industrial Revolution as I always dozed in history. Kids would be so much more interested in learning about history if they had this ceremony as an educational tool.

The industriousness of the peasants (complete with Bradley Wiggins-style sideburns) is reminiscent of a colony of worker ants and a bygone ethos. I am quite similar to an ant really as I often pull women several times my weight.

Pandemonium (the capital of hell in John Milton's 'Paradise Lost') is the next theme. Pandemonium is what happens when you put Jingjing, one of the mascots from the Beijing Olympics, in a test tube full of ammonia.

The main focus is a toriffic Glastonbury mound which is part Teletubbies, part Lord Of The Olympic Rings. There are chimneys popping out of the ground like doggy lipsticks.

A poignant moment remembers the fallen. A profound sense of sorrow is felt at this time. The actors who have ruined their 15 seconds of fame by tripping over the turf stand with heads bowed in shame. Where there's a games, there's a claim.

We move onto the Social and Cultural Change in England as West Indians are integrated into the community courtesy of The Empire Windrush. Yeah mon! No such tribute to B&I / Sealink / Irish Ferries which brought the Irish over though.

A Tempestuous Kenneth Branagh, portraying Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is looking very pleased with himself, although no one is sure if he is acting.

The five Olympic rings have been forged by the workers. Its a proud moment, but is there nothing these counterfeiters wont tackle?

The Olympic rings are coming together. That hardly ever happens! As they merge above our heads, fireworks explode downwards making them seem like rocket thrusters beneath a UFOOOOO. Any of us could be beamed up and experimented on. As it is, we have all been sucked into an engaging spectacle tonight.

James Bond strides purposefully down the corridors of Buckingham Palace, past the chubby dogs to meet the corgi-registered Queen. He is introduced but she doesn't react as her hearing is knackered from listening to the National Anthem too loud, so he has to cough to get her attention We all suspect it's an actress, but no, it's the actual bona fide Queen for Bond to have a crack at.

They board a helicopter and take the scenic route to the Olympic Park, showcasing our wonderful tourist landmarks. An animated black Churchill statue (we don’t do white Winstons any more) waves at us. Oh yesssss!

The helicopter door opens, as do our mouths, when the queen parachutes out of the plane in perhaps the most surreal moment of her monarchy. It is as exhilarating as jumping from a plane, commando. Wham bam thank you maam.

They arrive at the Olympic Park and are seated safely. The Queen is looking peachy and the Duke of Edinburgh is in the pink too, first time in years he has had any.

The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf And Hearing Children (all bases covered then!) get to sign the national anthem. There truly is something for everyone - even the paedos get to enjoy kids in jimjams.

'Second To The Right And Straight On Till Morning' is the next section, named after the directions Peter gave to Wendy to find Neverland. This part of the show honours children's literature and the NHS. They overlap well as the author JM Barrie gave the royalties from 'Peter Pan' to the NHS. Could be a big mistake promoting our free health service to a world that already comes from all over to bleed us dry.

Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells' comes on. Excitement reaches near orgasmic levels when I contemplate the possibility that Danny Boyle has somehow persuaded the Queen to honour 'The Exorcist' by getting on the bed and screaming “Your mother sucks cocks in hell”. But no, she shook her head to that one.

The hyperactive kids are jumping around on their beds like a scene from 'Annie'. Lights go out as they are subsequently sent to sleep, but you know how kids like dicking around instead of sleeping.

It's the perfect time for JK Rowling to read a passage from Peter Pan. Literary wrong 'uns appear in the form of the Child Catcher (modelled on Noel Fielding), Cruela De Vil, Queen of Hearts and Voldemort, who is on the end of a fierce shit-kicking from a miasma of Mary Poppinses who have swooped down from the roof like harpies.

Sir Simon Rattle charms the London Symphony Choir through 'Chariots Of Fire'. For many this is the cue to make a cuppa, but the audience are quickly fired up by a classic and genius revelation – a deadpan Mr. Bean who has somehow got the job of maintaining the monotonous synth beat. Key moment! There's a few seconds of disbelief before it registers with the crowd and rapture crackles around the Olympic Park like a Mexican wave.

Rowan Atkinson's deadpannery in front of the keyboard is simplistic and synthlistic brilliance. Playing the one note repeatedly quickly bores him into a daydream where he is running down the beach with a group of fitter types, in the opening scene from 'Chariots of Fire'. He quickly runs out of puff and disappears from shot only to re-emerge being chauffeured down the beach in a classic British automobile, rejoining the group at the head of the pack just before the winning line. There's still time for him to rub his rival's face in the sand as he trips him and strips him of a deserved victory. He awakes from his daydream to a glare from Rattle and finishes with a final flourish to plaudits.

'Frankie and June Say...Thanks Tim!' showcases our rich musical, televisual and film history. It starts optimistically with the infamous footage of Michael Fish telling us not to worry as there isn't a hurricane on the way. It turns out to be a metaphor as this section of the show fails to blow me away.

We get 'Pretty Vacant' from Sex Pistols rather than 'God Save The Queen' and her fascist regime. You can just imagine the sourpuss turning to Phil and saying “Thank God they aren't playing that awful one about me”.

Dizzee Rascal gets to “reprazent” (shittest word ever) his manor with 'Bonkers'. I spent the entire song holding onto my mum's leg, crying. Some people think I'm bonkers, but I just think I'm three.

The face of God is revealed in a major coup for London 2012. The Tim in the title of this segment is Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Godlike genius who invented the world wide web. His hub is a house with iconic images being been projected onto and it rises to reveal him sitting in front of a blank screen. Everyone knows when you walk in on someone with a blank screen, they have been watching porn. What a tangled web he weaves.

He uses his NeXT computer, which became the world's first web server, to type “THIS IS FOR EVERYONE”, the words he used in 1995 about the web. It flashes up around the stadium, doubling up as an inspirational message about the games.

Berners-Lee has an impressive CV. He doesn’t need to bother with fancy fonts or formatting or the Saturday job he had in McDonald's (Paid advertisement). A simple “I invented the fucking web!” under his name gets him any job he likes.

We see a smooth-looking David Beckham whizzing down the Thames in a speedboat with the Olympic torch. There is no sign of the omnipresent Sue Barker atop Tower Bridge with her rocket launcher. Probably busy with the day job.

'Abide With Me' is woefully sung by Emeli Sande. Her breathing is erratic and she sounds like a deaf person at times. It accompanies a puzzling embarrassingly-bad expressive dance display that adds nothing to the occasion. It is easily the worst part of the ceremony and so dreary that NBC decide to cut it entirely from their delayed coverage.

The 10000 athletes from the 204 nations who are competing in 302 events in 26 sports then launch their parade. We could do with a faster pace-setter as it's a 90-minute plod. It's not helped by the fact that half the competitors are more interested in recording extra footage for their personal archive.

Luckily, Arctic Monkeys follow the snoozefest with a couple of songs, 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' and a cover of 'Come Together'. It's a relief that the Queen can finally declare the 30th Olympiad open cos she wants to get home to bed. That parachute dive has taken it right out of her.

Mohammed Ali makes an appearance, a ghost of his former self. The poor man looks dead and gets carried around by a beefy carer in a scene not too dissimilar to 'Weekend At Bernie's'.

Becks passes the Olympic Flame from the boat over to Sir Steve Redgrave, who transports it into the park and onto the next generation - seven up-and-coming athletes sponsored by seven great British heroes. 'Caliban's Dream' by Underworld provides a soothing and uplifting soundtrack for the transition.

The bright prospects light 204 petals around the Olympic cauldron, one for each country competing. They merge majestically at the top, bringing each country together for a warm embrace, or possibly even some hot love. It has echoes of Wicker Man but our ending is more serene and satisfying as our natives aren't blazing mad. Couldn't remember the name of that film, had to look it up on Wickerpedia.

London has reason to feel triumphant and optimistic. Almost a year to the day that feral youths were running around the capital setting fire to people's livelihoods, the disorder has been superseded by hope of the highest order as the kids with illuminating futures ignite the passion in all of us.

Truly, a generation is inspired.

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