Hm…where was I…?? Oh, right! The two hour tribute to the National Health Service.
I had to break it off there, because truly it took a very large portion of the program. I must give kudos to Danny Boyle for starting this tribute to the government by tying it in with J.M. Barrie’s bighearted contribution of his work, Peter Pan, to the Great Ormond Street Hospital. It was a very smooth transition. And after all of the hospital beds lighting up, and kids jumping on the trampoline “beds”, and nurses and staff dancing around (and they were great at it, which begs the question: do they have a second job to supplement their income from the NHS??), J.K. Rowling showed up to recite something I assume she wrote, since I can’t find any information on it, and suddenly, figures from every kid’s worst nightmare show up!!
The Red Queen, Cruella De Vil, Captain Hook, and VOLDEMORT!!! And he was HUGE. But not to worry, because an army of Marys Poppins arrived floating down in umbrellas to vanquish the nightmares.
Like Mary Poppins could take on Voldemort… Sheesh…
Moving away from the NHS lovefest, we find esteemed comedian and British icon Rowan Atkinson in his role of Mr. Bean, playing the theme from Chariots of Fire with the London Symphony Orchestra, texting on his phone, playing his chord with an umbrella as he reaches for a tissue in his backpack, so he can blow his nose, and toss the offending tissue to the pianist. Classic Bean, right?? But his chord is rather boring, so he begins to daydream that he is running with the runners on the beach, falling behind, hailing a taxi to take him to the front of the line, and crossing first at the finish line after he trips the guy in the lead. I have to admit, I was in tears from laughing so hard.
And after such a great skit, it goes to Hades again. A convoluted tribute to music spanning decades from the 60’s to today. Apparently, there was no music in the UK until the Beatles. It was full of black lighting, peace signs, and then a clubbing scene where a girl loses her phone, but a guy finds it and texts her he has it, and she texts back, but I have no idea how she can do that unless she also was carrying an iPod, but why would you carry an iPod to a dance club?? And this texting and cell phone and emailing debacle is a tie-in to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet. Finally the texting and cell phones make sense. But the choice of a rapper to finish leaves more than a few people speechless.
And then the athletes begin to file out. Greece is first, as is custom, and then alphabetically with the host country going last.
Some of the countries chose well in the uniform department. Among them were American Samoa, Fiji, Australia, and China. Some chose poorly. Among them Germany (pink and baby blue track suits??), Czech Republic (rain boots and shorts??), USA (we looked French), and sadly, Great Britain (gold accents on white track suits??). After they file out, there are more musical acts, complete with cyclists sporting glowing wings. They looked a bit like the Flying Monkeys, which was creepy, in my opinion.
The head honchos give their speeches, and they cut away to David Beckham “driving” the speedboat carrying the torch. Nice touch with Beck. He passes the torch to five-time Olympic gold medalist Steve Redgrave, who brings it in to the stadium. Traditionally, a former Olympian of the host country lights the torch. But not this time. A group of seven young athletes hand-picked by former British Olympians for their prowess and promise run with the torch, and then come back to the Olympians to have six additional torches lit, which they in turn use to light the petals of the cauldron, arranged in a circle, which then rise to make the torch:
The mechanics of it and vision were spectacular, but the cauldron is supposed to be seen from ALL points of the Olympic Village, not just in the stadium, so to me it’s a bit underdone and disappointing. But it is very lovely, nonetheless.
After the lighting, Sir Paul McCartney comes out to close the ceremony with “Hey, Jude”, bringing down the house. I guess because he’s a Beatle. Personally, I think Sir Elton John would have done a better show. A duet with the two of them would have been spectacular! All in all, it was everything Britain liked, which I suppose that’s the point of the whole ceremony: to introduce to the world the host country.
At least, my droning over it is over. At least for the next four years 😉