Like many of my London friends who left the city to avoid the Olympics, I was a bit sceptical about the event ( esp. with all the bad press beforehand) until I was out walking along the river with friends from overseas the day before the games.
The sun was shining and there were hundred of street performers, artists, along with locals and tourists, everyone was so excited and joyful which really changed my view about the event. But the highlight came when we were dining by the river and saw the fireworks at Tower Bridge, it was so unexpected that it took all the diners by surprise ( we found out later that they were rehearsing for the Opening Ceremony the evening after).
Call me bias but I felt quite emotional and proud to be a Londoner by the end of the opening ceremony. I have fallen out with London many times, but would always return to my birth city; and last night, I realised how strongly I feel towards this multicultural, creative, quirky, tolerant and historical place.
I feel sorry for those who didn’t get the irony, humour, and the eccentricity of the ceremony; honestly, there might have been some confusing and disjointed acts, but surely the overall vision of reflecting on the past, respecting different races, classes or great individuals, and encouraging the youth is not so difficult to comprehend, right? Some critics said it was too left and political correct, but I think its many imperfections made it more humane, authentic and unique.
There is no point in comparing this to the Beijing Olympics, because that was more like a expensive dinner banquet continuously serving dishes like sharks fin soup, abalones, lobsters and suckling pigs etc, spectacularly presented, precisely and perfectly cooked, but too rich to digest after a while. The London one was more like eating multiple courses prepared by Heston Blumenthal ( unfortunately, I have yet to try it), original, unpredictable, bonkers at times but immensely fun and very British.
For me, the best part of the show was not Mr Bean, The Queen, Daniel Craig or the rock music. It was Danny Boyle‘s decision to include ‘real’ people like the builders of the Olympic stadiums, the deaf percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and disabled children/ Chaos singing choir in pajamas ( you could never imagine this at other Olympics opening)… Last but not least, the 7 young athletes who lit the stunningly beautiful and one of a kind Olympic cauldron designed by one of my favourite designers of our era, Thomas Heatherwick. An ingenious concept!
No, the ceremony wasn’t perfect, but then again, I think most Brits/ Londoners would value creativity and authenticity over egocentricity and perfectionism at any time.
My tickets to the games…