Danny Boyle and the Isles of Wonder Olympic Opening Ceremony

I\’ve been a total Olympics curmudgeon and was truly dreading the expected naff Opening Ceremony. Oh God, what if it was as dully naff as the ghastly games logo or, shudder, as wierdly naff as Wenlock the one-eyed scary mascot?

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I even felt sorry for Danny Boyle, director of one of the most feelgood movies of all time \”Slumdog Millionaire\”,  having to try and outdo China in the precision child-dancing event. Poor chap, must have been drunk when he agreed.

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However by half an hour into the thing I was excitedly on Facebook, cheering. At one point (the punk bit with weird people in white feathered helmets pogoing on stilts to Pretty Vacant…(wtf?))  my staid 22 year old son besought me \”Mu-um, PLEASE don\’t dance!\”

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Four years ago, Boyle clearly took a long hard look at Beijing\’s extravaganza of an Opening Ceremony and went \”Nah.\”

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With the coolth born of a smaller budget and native genius, he completely changed the rules and told us a mad, true and personal story about ourselves as a nation: the change from green-and-pleasant land to Satanic mills to the Windrush to the NHS to the music boom and then…

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All the way through, ordinary volunteers were doing the work. My daughter\’s roller derby team, the London Rockin\’ Rollers, were the skating ninja nurses of the NHS  seeing off the skating dementors (or as I prefer to call them, politicians) with the help of a splendid squadron of Mary Poppinses. You watching, Cameron? Eh? You welching incompetent, you?

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And the climax? Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, at his desk in front of a keyboard and monitor, sending a tweet! \”This is for everyone…\”

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There were things to criticise, of course, but usually they were the safe options (did you know that St Jude is the patron saint of lost causes? ) There were things that shouldn\’t have worked but did – like my favourite, the admirably deadpan HM The Queen in a peach cocktail frock accompanied by two corgis, setting off to jump out of a helicopter with James Bond. There were bits that probably only made sense to the Brits (though Mr Bean slipping into the orchestra for Chariots of Fire with Sir Simon Rattle as straight man probably had \’em laughing even in North Korea– \”See, Glorious Leader, THAT\’s how the flag got switched!\”) There were bits that quietly showed two traditional fingers to people all over the world. There were bits that brought everyone together, singing \”Na na na na…\” Well, everyone knows the words to that.

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There were bits that may even have been educational for the watching world – yes, Washington, the NHS, for all its faults, is something we\’re PROUD of; yes,Beijing, WE did fields to mills first.

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Most gloriously of all, Boyle completely subverted the whole neurotic argument about who gets to light the cauldron, all the celeb-obsessed, tabloid-fuelled nonsense.

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I loved the beautiful symbolism of the whole torch ceremony – flame transported by speedboat with David Beckham steering (ish); Sir Steve Redgrave carrying the torch to the seven nominated young athletes in their cool tracksuits (no, really, check \’em out and we\’ll say no more about the white-and-gold look). The seven youngsters simultaneously lighting individual bronze petals, the flame circling and the full array lifting individual flames into the air to form one blazing cauldron…

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The last time I cried at a cauldron-lighting was that breathtaking fire-arrow arcing across the sky at Barcelona.

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I\’m crying again as I write this which is really embarassing, damnit.

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The reason being, of course, the boldest subversion of all. Boyle took a global sports festival devoted to a world of elite athletes finding out who\’s really top, and gave it a deep dark egalitarian edge. Without in any way doing down the extraordinary achievements of the athletes, he reminded us about the extraordinariness of ordinary people.

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The spirit that went through the whole wonderful theatrical bonkers event was, like the equally bonkers torch relay, a magnificent trumpeting organised roar of support for, and by, all of the rest of us.

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Arise, Sir Danny Boyle.

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(PS When\’s the DVD coming out?)

Please be my patron?

After a lot of thinking and worrying about it and procrastinating, I\’m installing a Donate button.

If you like my blog and my books, then you can donate via Paypal. If enough of you donate, I won\’t have to keep getting oddjobs and will have more time to write all the books that are filling up my head. They\’re queuing about ten deep at the moment so I\’d really appreciate it!

I\’ll also be able to get my backlist published as ebooks as well as some of the unpublished books cluttering up my hard drive – like \”Writeritis\”, possibly the only honest book about writing books, ever.

I can mention your name in a List of Honoured Patrons at the start of anything I publish in future as a thank you – let me know if you\’d like me to do this.

Many thanks in advance. It\’s funny really, because this is how writers kept themselves going back in the sixteenth century. I\’ll never forget the day I opened one of twelve volumes of Robert Greene\’s works and found that Sir Robert Carey was being elaborately thanked for his gift of £5!

So here\’s the link to the Be My Patron page.

Be my patron

Chaucer had a patron. Shakespeare had one. Even Dr Johnson did.

Who am I to argue with the big guys?

Please help me write more books by donating to my Paypal account. Otherwise I\’m going to have to get another job which will seriously slow me down. If you would like to help me just sit in coffee shops and write, click on the Donate button below. I will use the extra cash to publish e-books with Climbing Tree Books as well.

Many thanks.

 

I haven\’t been neglecting my blog…

…I\’ve just been planning a linked series of posts and pages more connected with \”The Poetry Diet.\”

At the moment the series has the provisional title of \”Fifteen steps to a Good Eating Habit\” and it\’s about what you do AFTER you finish the diet. It\’s not as simple as a lot of diet books tell you, that\’s for sure.

I\’ll be posting as soon as I can.