Just to walk into the Olympic stadium on Friday night and discover that the ‘wasteland’ of East London had been transformed into a country masterpiece of J R R Tolkien proportions was enough to kick-start the wonderment. And it didn’t stop for the next few hours. For the lucky few thousand of us inside were shaken, rattled and rolled through the most remarkable live show I’ve ever seen.
As we took our seats beneath ‘the oak’ on top of a vast hill planted thick grass and wild flowers – I touched it – and watched the local cricket match, farming and livestock potter about, the feeling that spread around the audience was of contentment and comedy. After all many of us have spent a lot of time in these quaint corners of our islands.
The real highlights – and there were many – from then on for me included Kenneth Brannagh’s Shakespearean performance that triggered the industrial revolution where dramatic change came fast and furious and the smelting of the fifth Olympic ring amongst the 100ft chimneys and must be the most spectacular bit of iron masonry this century.
And as a British ‘paradise’ with echoes of Jerusalem and Flower of Scotland gave way to a progressive, smoking, dirty Britain and then world – you realized just what magnitude the impact of that small act of industry was. As great as the act of progress was you very quickly felt nostalgic for the life buried under the cement– something I’ve seen in many other corners of the world and literally what we’re experiencing with the sand mining problems near to Tribewanted in Sierra Leone.
Later this was echoed in the second ‘revolution’ of the night when Sir Tim Berners-Lee appeared inside a suburban house writing the alogorthym that led to the world wide web with a gargantuan 80,000 people pixilation of Tim’s epic tweet: This is for everyone!
Bond & a skydiving Queen, Mr.Bean and Chariots of Fire, Beckham on a speedboat, Team Fiji, Salone and one of my sporting heroes carrying the Olympic flag – Haile Gebrselassie – followed by a tribe of young athletes lighting the incredible copper petals that merged to form the Olympic cauldron – there’s no doubt in my mind that Danny Boyle should be knighted.
This was the greatest show on earth from the Greatest of Britain – the Isles of Wonderment. No pressure on Team GB then…