London Olympics opening ceremony

Save the Surprise

There’s probably not much point writing about the London Olympics opening ceremony, as it’s going to be on TV on Friday, and if you really want the surprises spoiled you can find plenty of places elsewhere that have blatantly ignored the friendly requests to #savethesurprise.

What I will say, though, is that I have never — ever — seen anything quite so impressive. Not in real life, and that was a huge surprise. The sheer scale of it, with 10,000 performers and enormous animatronics, is quite unbelievable. The stage transformation within the first 20 minutes alone is one of the best set pieces you’re ever likely to see, and the way they bring together the Olympic rings is really pretty inspired.

It’s not often I leave somewhere as impressed as I was at the end of last night’s full rehearsal. I hope the weather holds out on Friday, and the TV coverage can somehow do it justice.

Of course, going to the opening ceremony meant we also got to walk around the enormous Olympic Park. The stadium itself is set on an island, with five bridges linking it to the landscaped surroundings. It’s really impressive what they’ve done, setting it among enormous banks of wild flowers with plenty of lush grassy spaces for sitting down and watching the world go by.


Getting in was easy enough, and it took us only 15 minutes to pass through the airport-style security. Indeed, it took longer to queue for food, and that’s going to be a sore point. The catering provision is woeful, with very little choice at any of the outlets and, for us, a wait of 40 minutes for some fish and chips (£21.60 for the two of us, and the default portion — indeed, the only portion — is small). If you wanted a pickled egg or a gherkin, out of a big catering jar, that was £1 extra. If you wanted a Cadburys Twirl, that was £1. If you wanted a bottle of pop, that was £2.30. It’s not cheap.

The other issue was the closure of the Circle Line as we all turned out at 22h15. It didn’t affect us as we walked straght on to an overground train and were home a little more than an hour after the ceremony finished, but what a disaster not having one of the busiest tube lines running — especially as this was, in part, a technical rehearsal for what will happen during the Olympics proper.

If last night was any indication of what the actual event will be like, though, it should be something of a triumph, in no small part due to the friendliness, helpfulness and knowledge of the staff, who despite all the criticism of the way it’s been staffed (we did see a lot of army and heavily armed police) were all excellent.

London 2012 gate

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