Sunday, 29 July 2012

Proud

Okay, I was wrong. I'll hold my hands up and admit it. Seven years ago when it was announced that London had won the Olympic bid I couldn't have been less interested. The thought of all that money being ploughed into sport, which I strongly dislike, and into an event in London when we've got so many other amazing cities in Great Britain. Since the announcement, with the recession and especially all the cuts to arts budgets - a sector I work and believe passionately in - well, like many I've been having a little grumble about it all. But then on Friday night, I sat down and watched the Opening Ceremony and I honestly haven't ever felt prouder to be British.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about it all weekend. I feel like I'm seven again and obsessed with the musical Annie. We've watched it through twice now and I keep having images, stories and sounds from it flash up in my brain. And as someone who works in theatre, I can't stop thinking about the logistics as well. How on earth do you bring together thousands of volunteer performers, technical equipment and hours worth of performance and make something so moving, laugh-out-loud funny, and thought provoking?

I've been trying to work out what it was that made me love the ceremony so much. There were so many elements I enjoyed and it wasn't all perfect. I think it's two things. Firstly, I loved how it celebrated the individual. The Britain I love is a place where we rejoice in the diverse and the eccentric, where everyone has freedom of speech and expression. Secondly, I loved that where I had dismissed The Games as being about sport, it has instead reinforced the fact that culture is still one of things we do best as a nation. We might not be great at winning medals but we tell good stories, be they through dance or sculpture or architecture or song, and through these stories we entertain and move and inspire and challenge. That Opening Ceremony was like a big two fingers stuck up to a government who has drastically cut arts spending. Danny Boyle, I salute you. 

And for a photo ... we had a couple of friends round to watch the ceremony so here's the pavlova I made for everyone to munch on whilst all the teams paraded past. 

Did you watch the ceremony? What did you think?

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