Finally and perhaps regretfully, the flame that has been a beacon of humanity at its very best the last two weeks was extinguished and the flag of the International Olympic Committee handed over to the Mayor of Rio for safe keeping till it is that city’s time to shine and host the Olympic Games of 2016.Not before however, the people lucky enough to be inside the Olympic venue and countless billions round the world from Auckland to Calgary, from the Faroes to the Falklands got the chance to revel in a party four hours long.
The opening ceremony two weeks ago had everything you could wish for in a spectacle, the vision of Danny Boyle wrapped up neatly inside the can do attitude personified by the volunteers that have come to be seen as the public face of the Games. From Mary Poppins to Voldemort, from a celebration of the N.H.S. to Brunel gazing at the seeds of the Industrial Revolution; it was an introduction to London 2012 that was better than any that had been seen in 40 years. The ending, the closing ceremony wasn’t bad either.
From Emeli Sande’s grand opening to one of the Rock bands of all time, The Who, Britain celebrated with the other great export alongside some sports, its brilliant and diverse music which no other place on Earth can match. If sport is the great leveller then music is what really drives the world.
Timothy Spall returned to the part he played in the film The King’s Speech as Sir Winston Churchill and delivered Caliban’s lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest from the opened top of what will be soon known as The Elizabeth Tower, the sight of London band Madness performing on a moving vehicle as they sang Our House, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe appearing to wear the latest fashion in cone wear on their heads as they sang West End Girls, the great Ray Davies of the Kinks urging the crowd to join in his love song to Liverpool’s River Mersey, Waterloo Sunset and latest teen-sensation One Direction all gave the audience, both television and inside the venue the reason to keep on watching till midnight.
With enormous pride, sailing supremo and four time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie carried in the flag for Great Britain and alongside every athlete in the venue looked incredibly delighted to soak up the atmosphere. The music that saw the evening through to its thrilling conclusion was a mixture of live performances and the best of British music which accompanied scenes from this year’s Games.
The initial start of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was joined by the sound of Kate Bush’s excellent Running Up That Hill, David Bowies’ Fashion and perhaps most poignantly, Liverpool’s John Lennon with Imagine. It was a time for remembrance as well as celebration.
Live acts included The Kaiser Chiefs, Fatboy Slim, the superb Elbow, whose songs included Open Arms and One Day Like This which was recorded at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studio and original Pink Floyd stalwart, drummer Nick Mason who was joined by Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford and Ed Sherrin as they delivered a beautiful version of one of the most famous of Pink Floyd’s song, the exceptional Wish You Were Here, so poignant and so in keeping with the party.
The Spice Girls reformed to remind audiences of what they were capable of and Annie Lennox joined in the party for her song Little Bird.
Gary Barlow and Take That blew the crowd away and it is a testimony to Mr. Barlow’s sheer professionalism that he performed so well and with much feeling as he and his wife are going through such an emotional time at the moment in their personal lives.
Brazil was given a few minutes to show what everybody could expect when the Games arrive in Rio in four years’ time, the samba and dancing will certainly be a much anticipated highlight of what is to come.
The Great British public still has the incredible and awe-inspiring spectacle of the Paralymics to come in a couple of weeks’ time, for now though there particular games are over, they have enthused and encouraged so many. It is a pity it had to end.
These Games will be remembered for a lot of things, the incredible sporting achievements and the records they broke through to the style and genuine good spirits that have been noticeable almost everywhere up and down these great Islands, what they will also be remembered for is that for two weeks in August 2012, Great Britain took a holiday, a much need vacation from itself.
Ian D. Hall