Have you exhaled yet? After an epic two weeks, the London 2012 Olympics finally came to a close with an outstanding display of pomp and celebration – all starting with 9 chimes from Big Ben and a little ditty from Emelie Sande, her first of two performances during the ceremony. Who’s doing her PR?
Whether you were one of the 80,000 at the stadium, viewing on one of the many outdoor big screens or comfortably sat on the sofa at home you couldn’t help feel that something spectacular was about to happen – but there was also a slight tinge of sadness; we were saying goodbye to the best sporting event this country has even seen.
This was never going to be the spectacle that The Opening Ceremony was. With a lower budget and the absence of Danny Boyle, there were less theatrics and more of a focus on the music Great Britain has created over the last 50 years. Whereas Boyle focused on our heritage, this was clearly about London life in 2012.
As viewers were treated to choreography representing the day to day life of London, musical maestros STOMP! took to the stage, transforming some of London’s most iconic landmarks into giant instruments climaxing in the introduction of HRH Prince Henry of Wales, which confused many of my friends. Harry, looking dapper in a navy suit, represented Her Majesty and viewed the entire ceremony in the company of The Duchess of Cambridge who wore a printed dress from High St store Whistles. This was when the first tears came from a friend’s eyes, ‘I’m just so proud of what this tiny island has achieved!’ she exclaimed, whilst nursing her third Chardonnay.
Warm-up performances continued with Madness, The Pet Shop Boys and One Direction entertaining the masses with renditions of their biggest hits. The Pet Shop boys looking rather ‘Gaga’ in coned helmets and faux fur. Niall, Liam, Zane, Louis and cougar’s favourite Harry – belting out their international smash hit ‘What makes you beautiful’ while dressed like they’d all been given Topman voucher for Christmas – did nothing for the older generation that surrounded me. It was good to see so many different decades represented so early on but, I couldn’t help thinking the pace needed to pick up a little.
Cue the athletes. More tears, this time from me. I’ve always been quite active in sport; running, swimming and playing tennis on a weekly basis – but to see the dedication, hard work and determination that has been displayed on home soil during the games has inspired me and I’ve realised there’s always more to be done. Flooding the stadium with a rainbow of colours representing every corner of the globe, the athletes formed our flag, reiterating what Lord Coe stated seven years ago. ‘These are the games for everybody’.
Now the party could really start and, judging by my Twitter feed during the day, what everyone was waiting for. Starting with George Michael performing his 1990 hit ‘Freedom’ – replete with dodgy hand movements. This is where I got excited; being a fashion writer and knowing there was to be a fashion element, I was sure he was about to recreate his ‘Supermodel’ moment with the likes of Kate and Naomi strutting around Stratford in the best British design could produce. Alas I had to wait until a rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ to get my fix – and what a fix it was. The U.K’s Top 9 supermodels in custom-made golden dresses from the U.K’s Top 9 designers. Kate and Naomi both in Alexander McQueen, Stella Tennant in Christopher Kane, Lily Cole in Erdem, Karen Elson in Burberry, Lily Donaldson in Vivienne Westwood, Jourdan Dunn in Jonathan Saunders/Stephen Jones Millinery, the dishy David Gandy in Paul Smith and Georgia May Jagger in Victoria Beckham. There were almost tears here but I managed to hold onto my manly facade, not for long however…
Ignoring performances from Russell Brand, Tinie Tempah, Jessie J and Taio Cruz, at precisely one hour and fifty four minutes into the ceremony I became that 12 year old teenage boy again when the women that defined my childhood appeared. There had been rumours for months, but it wasn’t until mid-week when the first images started appearing that I started to believe it. To quote Ben Elton at The Brits 1997 ‘THE ALL CONQUERING SPICE GIRLS!’ A mash up of ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Spice Up Your Life’ ensured that everyone was on their feet including David Cameron and Boris Johnson showing some interesting dance moves. Performances followed from Oasis, Muse and Queen, before the handing over of The Olympic Flag to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro in preparation for 2016.
More tears came following the highly energetic Brazilian performance when Lord Coe thanked London, its volunteers and athletes for making the games a success. ‘We lit up the world’ and ‘When our time came, Britain we did it right’ were a couple that caused an emotional response, understatement!
As the flame was quietly extinguished and a hush fell over London, I can honestly say that the last two weeks have been filled with joy, anticipation, anxiety, hope, drama and lots of smiles and that’s just me! The people of Great Britain have truly made these games. The spectators, volunteer, athletes and the press have all done an incredible job. I just hope that the mentality and awareness of others created by London 2012 continues to flourish on this great island of ours way past Rio and way past the 2020 host city. Only we as individuals can make this happen, I am certainly going to try. Now, where was my passport? I’ll see you all in Brazil!