Fat Lady Replaced By Old Man

Fat Lady Replaced By Old Man

Firstly as an Englishman and a Proud Salopian I have to say how much I resented hearing every announcement made in the Olympic opening ceremony firstly in French and then as an afterthought,  in English. May I proffer that as we have just emptied our coffers to pay for this thing and given the fact that we struggled with the zillion pound security bill and are playing host to as many countries in the world that want to take part, I do believe it's not too much to ask for the default language of the games to be English.

It was argued that it was out of respect to the founder of the modern day Olympics, Frenchman Pierre de Coubetin, that  French was being  spoken. Surely if they wanted to speak in the parlance of the true founder of the modern Olympics might it be better to say "You canner beat the Olympics Monner? As Salopians we know the truth and William Penny Brook was the man with the ideas. Sadly he was foolish to believe it might be run for accolades only. Then came the French and the money Pit was created. The games come from Wenlock and we must not let that be forgotten. Any amount of French language will not disguise the fact. I thought it was an error of judgement at best at at worst an insult.

So off we go, the first scene,  "Pandemonium," proved to be just that. Showing a dreary montage of Victorian England's history we saw an unrecognisable character who was meant to be Brunel and we were then dragged drearily into the dark satanic mills of Blake's Jerusalem. The factory chimney's, whilst spectacular, were still horrid reminders of an era that maybe, as English folk, we shouldn't be too ready to boast about it. The price of that great industry, a lot afforded off the backs of slaves, was a desparate and painful existence for the workers. Not the jolliest thing to show the world when we refer to our past. I would have rather seen Hilary and Tenzing plant the flag on Everest or maybe England raise the World Cup we do have some happy history too. But no on we went with this depressing, dreary montage. 

Then it was  silence for our war dead. It could be argued that remeberance is highly thought of and much encouraged; but in this setting? The people we lost in those conflicts were killed by the forebears of our modern competitors. These are people and countries who want to prove to the world that was long ago and things have changed, they have moved on. To remind them of the past like this was tactless, maybe?

With the action centred around a grassy knoll there was movement and counter movement as people wound their merry way up telly tubby hill, in truth, they looked like a lost bunch of tourists trying to find Trafalgar Square by using the A to Z of Birmingham.  It made the performance space hard to distinguish and any effect or patterns Boyle wanted us to see through his dancers was lost because of the scale of the whole thing. Maybe that was a fault of the camera crew but viewing was marred by the use of this highly impractical space.

But then, our own dear queen played a blinder. She was spot on, Daniel Craig as Bond called for her at the palace and she consented for him,  to get her to the games. She was ultimately parachuted in and took her place in the Royal Box. One thinks on countries who have no sense of irony who all now believe our octagenarean queen is a part time sky diver and James Bond does exist. Well I won't tell them the truth if you don't.

It was wonderful to see Rowan Atkinson playing the role of a bored keyboard player in a Philharmonic Orchestra, finally breaking into a skit on the film Chariots Of Fire, it was priceless. He just keeps on being funny.

I was delighted to see the NHS take credit. It is one of Britain's Unique Selling points and one of the reasons that being British is great. Again though the space proved detremental to the objective and a whole lot of nurses jumped around  looking like they were all after the last cake in the shop. It was chaos. Great sentiment but poorly executed. 

I am totally non plussed by, " Abide With Me," and the appalling montage of British Fashion, Music and Film through the generations. It didn't work and the relevence and purpose were lost in cattle market scale choreography and some fairly poor musical tracks. If you had  told me in 1977 the Sex Pistols would be played at the opening of the Olympic games I would have been shocked and so would the Sex Pistols.  It's like asking the Anti Christ to stage the Nativity. You just wouldn't.

Beijing was admittedly a tough act to follow and I think we knew as a country it would be foolish to try and copy them. We stepped up to the plate and gave the world our show, A show that creaked just a little in parts but overall gave the sense of occassion that was needed. It didn't take itself too seriously for too long and hopefully heralded the start of what will be a fascinating games.

So Athletes safely gathered in, Singing and Dancing completed, Beckham has successfully kept his hair looking good whilst exposed to the cruelty of a sailor's wind, all the politically correct boxes neatly ticked and the speeches made, the queen has spoken, isn't that it? Time for the fat lady to sing? You would have thought but no, with a voice like a bag of rusty nails and a face as Iconic as Albert Dock in comes Paul Mc.Cartney. With a performance that resembled drunken karaoke. Yes Britain said to the world,  "We have our treasures and we ain't afraid to show them."

Overall fair play to Danny Boyle it was a tough one . It was a poison chalice but he ran with it. He came out with his integrity intact. He also proved he isn't afraid to offer a bit of slush and sentiment. however, in general the boy done good.

I wish the games well and I like so many others will watch it avidly. I shall be an expert on sports I haven't yet heard of and  my living room will be the areana. Bring it on but please at the end spare me a repeat of the old man singing.

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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Comments

Couldn't agree more, The opening started off well but then just lost its way with lack luster flat dancing accompanied by that dirge 'Abide with Me' followed by the exquisitely boring relationship levered in to the music through the decades.

As a Salopian I felt disenfranchised too. I had twitter on in the background and apparently the consensus is that the French invented the Olympics! Oh well I suppose that fits with the Americans capturing the Enigma machine history rewrite too.

I didn't know what to expect but the media response was very much the Emperor's new clothes. It was refreshing to read your objective article that said, I think, it was good but could have been better in places. That's fair enough isn't it?

Daniel Craig and Queen was awesome along with the forging of the rings but all in all it felt a bit schizophrenic. When they want tax payers money, Britain won the Olympics, but when the suggestion of another city hosting some of the events is mentioned then it's "London what won the Olympics" and I think this showed in the spectacle.

Great write up though thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thank you for your comments seems we are on the same hymn sheet. Nice on for more of my stuff check out loveshrewsbury.com/owenlewis.

All the best.

Owen

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