by ANIKA WELLS
Top of the morning to you! Welcome to the run down of the London Opening Ceremony. Let’s put our cards on the table upfront shall we, and admit the whole shebang had a punchy LSD vibe and it was something we all just needed to roll with. I would argue it was a tip of the hat to both the musical and lifestyle inclinations of the Beatles, and lord knows they did quite well didn’t they?
The ceremony was named Isles of Wonder, which is taken from a speech in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. This felt invitingly high brow for those of us viewing at home who could still hear the sound of last night’s revellers vomiting in the gutter outside. Sir Kenneth Branagh was called upon to oversee the Shakespearean elements, and he really does a marvellous stride-about in a jodhpur, Sir Kenneth. Cracking form.
If the official theme was Isles of Wonder, the unofficial theme had to be You’re Welcome, Earth. Across the three hours, the Brits reminded us they invented the railway, the transatlantic steamship, the Industrial Revolution, rugby, pop music and tunnels that run under water. They also asserted they invented the internet, which I feel may have been a bit of an over-reach.
The Queen and James Bond parachuting out of a helicopter might have been sacrilegious if attempted by one of the colonies but was a total showstopper here. Bonus points for featuring the Corgis.
But for one of the happiest and most unifying occasions in the world, we were asked to contemplate things like death and childhood terror more frequently than you’d expect, weren’t we? If reliving childhood nightmares was an essential part of my Opening Ceremony experience, what on earth were the 30 minutes they cut?!
Then a bunch of dancers clad in black threw dust and thrust about a bit while Emile Sande sang a song that apparently has featured in every FA Cup Final since the Land Before Time.
I had time to look up Emile Sande and see she’s also got a gig to the Closing Ceremony and an album out. I also had time to contemplate when my TV was last dusted and whether we’ve paid our rates bill yet because I found this part a bit dull. Then I saw Twitter falling about praising the haunting beauty of this segment. Awks when that happens, isn’t it.
So we all cleared our throats and pushed on with the athletes arrival, and Stephanie Rice chose this moment to make it VERY CLEAR on the twitters that she was watching from the Village and shortly going to bed, in the manner of a responsible and diligent future medallist.
Now, the style featured in the march-past really merits its own post. What a glorious fustercluck of fabric. Clearly Ralph Lauren never got picked for school sports because he evoked a magnificent beret-clad revenge on the US contingent.
But what you do need to know is that each country’s flag was accompanied by a child bearing a conch-like instrument. THIS WILL BE IMPORTANT FOR LATER. But all quiet on the western front in terms of tear jerking Olympic memories, so on we jolly well trundle.
After a bit of the Arctic Monkeys for the ladies we get down to brass tacks, Flame stylez.
Becks arrives in a speedboat dressed in a tux. Never change, Becks. He hands the torch to Sir Steven Redgrave, who runs it in to the stadium, and it’s lovely because who isn’t big into Steve? He’s amazing. Steve then passes it on to a troupe of jogging yoof, who have each been nominated as the Next Big Deal by British Olympic elders. Me too. I just haven’t got any phone credit to return that call. So.
They all share Steve’s torch for a bit, and then they all light individual torches off of Steve’s torch and then they use their individual torches to light the ring of conches from the Athletes Arrival. Still with me?
Then all the conches rise up on very long skewers to unite as one big flame and voila – the London Olympic Cauldron. Discuss with the person next to you.
Then we all rallied for a bit Hey Jude with Paul McCartney and SCENE.
Voila- London’s Opening Ceremony. It had childhood favourites and banging tunes and a big pash-on set to Blur. But you know what it didn’t have? What it could have had? The revelation of a royal baby bump, Beyonce at the VMAs stylez.
Wouldn’t that have been an absolute BARNBURNER?! I’m pretty sure if the Duchess of Cambridge chose the London Opening Ceremony cutaway to reveal she is in fact pregnant with the heir to the British throne, she would just win the Olympics outright and we could call off the coming fortnight altogether. But, perhaps, Kate and my differing approaches to PR is one of the few differentiating qualities between us that gave her the edge when Prince William was deciding whom to marry. Food for thought, isn’t it.
And there’s always the Closing Ceremony, isn’t there… and there’s only 16 days to go!
Anika Wells is a true believer and loves everything about her work except its lack of costume parties. She was never picked first for school sport either, and you can follow her on twitter at @anika_wells.
Take a look at the pics from the night + some of the images being tweeted from the inside.
The Opening Ceremony
For more Opening Ceremony pics, head to ivillage.com.au.
Were you watching? What did you think?