Before the Olympics began I’d been really quite sceptical – all the media stories pre-Olympics tended to focus on what hadn’t gone right rather than what had. It all seemed a little Twenty Twelve.
And then the Opening Ceremony happened, and I was totally won over. The industrial revolution was momentous, the illuminated cyclists magical. I wasn’t so keen on the wow we have an NHS bit (don’t get me wrong though, I am grateful for the NHS, just found that section a bit bizarre) and some of the love story was a tad cheesy. But it was so very British. It had the Queen in it – the actual Queen! And including Bean, internationally known and loved, was a touch of genius. It was eccentric and musical, I loved it. The tribute to 7/7 victims was touchingly performed, and an appropriate reminder that the Olympic announcement is so tied to the memory of that event (even if the US edited it out). And Tim Berners-Lee! I can’t believe I almost forgot him. Brilliant.
And then the actual Olympics happened, and they were even better than any Brit had hoped. Who knew we had so many phenomenal athletes. Tuning in to watch over lunch and catching up in the evenings was more exciting than I’d ever expected. I raced home from work last Tuesday lunchtime to see if the Brownlees could pull it out of the bag (and was overjoyed with their Gold & Bronze) and I jumped involuntarily every time Holly Bleasdale approached the bar the evening before that. Every breakfast news show featured a series of excited athletes clutching well-earned medals.
It wasn’t without its problems – as anticipated, London roads became trecherous for other road users, and that resulted in the unnecessary kettling and arrest of many cyclists, and the tragic death of another. It is hard to imagine just how difficult the last couple of weeks have been for that family. No words or gold medals will undo that tragedy for them.
I finally watched the Olympics closing ceremony last night on iPlayer and was a bit disappointed. It had some highlights; the newspaper-clad London skyline, the military brass band playing Parklife, the red bus made of acrobats, John Lennon’s head, Eric Idle leading a grand Monty Python sing-a-long… but was it quite so necessary to invite every British rocker who’s ever had a top 10 to strain their vocal chords in an effort to prove they’re still relevant? And to let George Michael sing a song nobody’s ever heard before? This write-up in the Guardian put it nicely, “You were left with the feeling that someone had left Now 38 playing on the stadium PA.”
Closing Ceremony cyclists: genuinely terrifying, will give me nightmares
And so now it is back to normal. Well, as normal as Edinburgh can be during festival time. Ordinarily it’s said that August is the one month of the year that Edinburgh locals get to feel what life is like for Londoners. Well, excepting that whole Olympics thing. Because that was like nothing else on earth.