Dizzee and it's only the start of it
OLYMPICS:THE OLYMPIC Games were last staged in London 64 years ago and there have been those who have protested that the build-up to the 2012 event has seemed almost as long. Indeed, some heathens even wished last night’s shebang was the closing rather than the opening ceremony, so all you could do was throw them a wink and give them a bar of We’ve only just Begun.
The list of stuff to loathe about the Olympic movement is a mighty lengthy one, but you’d almost forgive them everything for the two weeks of sporting loveliness (bar the synchronised swimming, gymnastics and dressage) between those opening and closing dos, the BBC treating us to some of the most sublime moments as they kicked off with Gary Lineker and Sue Barker at 7.0. It just reminded you of how much you’d forgotten.
Earlier, on the BBC Six O’Clock news, Sebastian Coe was, understandably enough, nervous, excited and a bit emotional about it all, but battled hard to keep it in perspective. He fell short-ish. “I don’t want to overstate it,” he said, “but I do think so much of our history has led us to this moment.”
Maybe he’d seen a preview of Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony which appeared to leap from the Industrial Revolution (with a passing reference to the human cost of Britain’s involvement in a whole heap of wars) to the arrival over the stadium of the Olympic rings, as if nothing much happened in between.
No complaints though, it was jammed with nuggets, if more than a touch disjointed, and you did get the feeling you had to be there. Those trees being uprooted by the smoke stacks of the industrial revolution, for example, probably looked a little more awesome from the top tier of the stadium than on the portable telly in the corner of the room.
Meanwhile, we await with bated breath the response to the Queen ‘parachuting’ from James Bond’s helicopter. And that tribute to the NHS? Exquisite. Was George Osborne shifting uncomfortably? And those smirky, greedy captains of industry swaggering about the place as the grim-faced workers sweltered as they earned them their loot? There were all kinds of ways to interpret the ceremony, but you’d guess it wasn’t a tribute to vulture capitalism. You know, if Britain had a euro for every time Danny Boy will be scundered as a rowdy leftist in the next 24 hours they’ll have the Olympics paid for.
Until then the highlight had been the one and only Huw Edwards having to talk about Dizzee Rascal over on the BBC as he introduced a piece by the rapping person on life in the east end of London. Frankly, just hearing Huw utter the words ‘Dizzee’ and ‘Rascal’ made you want to send the BBC a licence fee.
Over on RTÉ, Bill O’Herlihy was his usual jovial, tingling self as he said an Olympic hello, having a quick chat with Irish chef de mission Sonia O’Sullivan, who still has the look of someone who could run two marathons between breakfast and lunch.
“I can’t help but think that the decision to appoint Sonia as chef de mission was an inspired one,” he said to Jerry Kiernan, whose absolute refusal to ever allow Bill get him all giddy in Beijing was, perhaps, the highlight of that fortnight.
“Maybe, maybe not,” he replied. “If I was competing it would make no difference to me who was the chef de mission.”
Besides, he added, the chef’s only job of note was “just to get the athletes on the bus on time”. That was Bill’s bubble burst.
Bernard Dunne? “I think these positions are overrated really. I mean, what can she do for the boxers?”
And there was Bill thinking the Olympics would be a chirpy positivity break from Dunphy, Giles and Brady.
But, we’re up and running. And leaping, and sailing, and punching, and shooting, and the like. For some the fortnight will feel like 64 years, for the more well adjusted folk it’ll be done and dusted in a blink of the eye.