London 2012 August 8, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
My greatest fear is that I’ll be put in charge of organising the 2012 London Olympics’ opening ceremony. Stranger things have happened, and I might easily be having an affair with someone important by then, like Seb Coe or Jacques Rogge. So what if they say, thinking, mistakenly, that I’d take it as an honour, “‘ere, BiB. We reckon you’ve got what it takes. Here’s £22.75. Come up wiv summink a bit spesh.”
So I’ve been watching the opening ceremony from Beijing to get some hints. I’ve been taking some notes and think with a little bit of cross-cultural adaptation, I might be able to produce something pretty god damn memorable. And it’s relatively early days, of course, when I presume, if push comes to shove and I am expected to portray the UK to the world in a positive light, I’ll just have to go down Barking High Street a few weeks before the event and ask a few willing citizens if they’re happy to help me out if I buy them a pint afterwards. I doubt the good salt-o’-the-earth folks of East London will let me down.
I suppose I could grow into the job, once I conquer my initial dread. But what if I pitch it too low? What if I shame Queen and country? What if I paint a false picture of the UK in the eyes of our overseas chums? The Chinese, after all, have packed thousands of years’ worth of culture into their extravaganza. And Sarah Brightman.
A central motif of today’s spectacle has been paper. The Chinese invented it after all, probably. And fireworks. There’ve been plenty of those. And money. And all that number 8 symbolism – 8pm, 8th day of 8th month – is to do with the word being the same for wealth. Much of the action has happened on an olde-worlde scroll which unfurled itself, in a very newe-worlde way, and provided the central stage for much of the ceremony’s proceedings.
Now I’m sure there’s no such thing as plagiarism when it comes to Olympic choreography so I think I might stick with the Chinese paper motif for 2012. But then how to keep costs low? My budget will probably only be £22.75, remember. So I’m thinking of getting some volunteers – we can cut their benefits if they refuse – to sew a few thousand copies of The Sun and The Mirror together, preferably ones that have at some point in their life had fish and chips wrapped up in them, and unfurling them to whoops of joy from the world’s public.
But what could be the opening gambit of the ceremony? Once we’ve got the fish and chip scroll unfurled, we need to get a bit of a show on the road. And it’ll be London. So I think we should have a London Routemaster bus trundle out into the centre of our new and nearly-finished Olympic Stadium, incompletely built in the shape of a bowler hat. A pearly king and queen could be the driver and conductor. Or, if they’re willing to waive an appearance fee, the actual Queen and her consort. They would deliver to the centre of the fish and chip scroll the bus’s only passenger, our compère for the evening, Britain’s best comic, Jim Davidson. He could wow the crowd and, indeed, the world with gag after gag. “My wife’s so ugly…” he could begin.
But there’s got to be music and dancing too. And, like China, the UK is a multi-ethnic country. Naturally, these being the London games, we’d have local school-children doing a routine as chimney-sweeps and then a right, good ol’ Cockney Knees Up Muvva Brairn song and dance. Got to make the most of those braces, after all, as they’ll take up a good chunk of the budget. There can be some bagpipes to represent Scotland and bottles of whisky flashing up on the overhead projector (kindly donated by some London Borough Council free of charge as long as we leave their sticker on the side). A Welsh choir singing to footage of coal-mining and eisteddfod druids. Some murals from Northern Ireland. And something Cornish from Cornwall.
I’m thinking Right Said Fred for the pop interlude once the athletes from all those Pakistans and Palaus and Panamas are in. They should have the crowd going wild as the build-up to the Olympic flag being run up the flagpole and the Olympic flame being lit becomes unbearably tense. I’ll give Jacques a little kiss on the cheek and wish him good luck for making a rousing pre-Olympic speech. Prime Minister Dave can declare the games open and even announce that, thanks to me, not that I think I should be central to the ceremony at all, but maybe they could put a snap of me from my hols on the overhead projector at that point, we’d kept within our £22.75 budget. The Olympic flag, in a last-minute cutback, can be welched on and a photo of it can be stuck up on the overhead projector instead.
These games will be, most importantly of all, green games. Burning gas wantonly when it’ll be light for most of the proceedings is a great waste of resources. So we can modernise the Olympic flame. As the crowds hush and everyone realises the climax is upon them, Eddie the Eagle can be greeted in a riot of swooning, flag-waving and adulation, light a Swan Vestas safety match, set fire to a piece of string leading to a great big cauldron high above the not-quite-finished stadium and, just when everyone expects flames to billow out over London’s historic skyline, someone behind the scenes can flick a switch and a huge long-lasting two-pronged light-bulb will flood the Olympic sky with just as much mythos.
But I’m still not sure I’m the right man for the job.