Saturday, 28 July 2012


Like most people, I gather, I was blown away by the Olympic Opening Ceremony last night. It was of course technically spectacular and visually stunning. I liked the fact that there was a sort of narrative and also some irony verging on self-mockery. I can understand why a Tory MP detected a socialist agenda in Danny Boyle's extravaganza, only seeing focus on suffragettes, the NHS, and sideswipes at bankers and exploitative industrialists. However I don't think there was a party political agenda; it was more a series of a few big images of British heritage and life, strung together with a thin story line. And it was brilliantly (and extravagantly) done. The immediate reaction of many friends on Facebook has been, "Wow, wow, wow!"

Nevertheless, after I'd listened to the lighting of the cauldron (I didn't stay up to watch, but have done since then on YouTube), I lay in bed and thought, "Yes, that was a great show. I'm glad I watched the bulk of it. But do I approve?" Do I approve of the arms race of Olympic openings? The continual effort to do bigger and better than anything before - epitomised by having the torch brought by a special effects speed boat driven by a millionaire footballer and ending up with seven young athletes lighting a succession of "petals" which came together to create the "cauldron".

Once, a long time ago, there were games in ancient Greece where people competed for nothing more than a garland of herbs. (We're priding ourselves on our gold medals weighing twice as much as China's in 2008 - get a life!) Once the Olympics were strictly for amateurs. Now our athletes are highly rewarded professionals. Once a single athlete ran into a stadium and lit the Olympic torch alone.

It's sad, I think, that corporate sponsorship - "the Cocalympics" - and the entertainment industry have such a stranglehold on the Olympic movement that no one has the bottle to say, "Enough is enough. Money is needed more elsewhere. We do not have to be bigger and better." I agreed with Trevor Nelson on the BBC commentary team who, during the parade of the athletes, said something like, "This, to me, is always the best part of the ceremony - seeing the national athletes who have trained so hard for so long, coming into the stadium." That is what the Games are about. Let's have less of the competitive corporate razzamatazz, and more simplicity.


  1. Hello Michael and Jane.... It's a beautiful Friday morning and we have just had breakfast in bed! But just wanted to say that I showed your blog to Alan just now. I was curious to 'feel' his response to your writing... He was moved by it. Thank you for writing it for us! (Incidentally, Alan knows the Lee-Ann Womak and has loved dancing to it in the past. We used to Line Dance and for Alan this was a very important time for "dancing his way through troubled waters". I remember him once saying that if he could start his life all over again and choose his career it would be as a dancer!) When the time comes for us to look back on the "path of faith" reading your blog will be a significant 'sign post'! May the dance of today be a blessing for you! With love Jo

  2. Oh dear... I'm not very good at this! I seem to have answered a different place in your blog so the sequence isn't right! I'm clearly on a sharp blogging learning curve! XX

  3. Never mind, Jo! By the way, we both enjoyed the flowers you brought which lasted throughout the week. Thank you so much.