It started at 8.12am, Friday 27 July. Anyone who had a bell or could say ‘ting-a-ling’ rang it or sang it to start the 12-hour countdown to the official opening of the London Olympics. Dame Kelly Holmes, a guest on BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans show, rang hers so hard it broke the clapper. A scallywag friend rang the neighbour’s doorbell and, in the spirit of stronger, faster, higher, ran away, breaking the world record for that particular sport, it may feature in the Rio games.
The mass ringing brought on minor blubbing, I found it all very moving, as I had when the Olympic torch travelled through the our city and indeed any city. Though tears turned to massive sobs when soldier Ben Parkinson, severely injured in Afghanistan, balanced on his prosthetic legs to carry the torch through Doncaster.
By the time of the opening ceremony, I was still snivelling after tuning in throughout the day via the interweb to see the torch make its way through the capital. Noel is a bigger softie than me, so as soon as the celebrations started we were crying into the glasses we were using to toast the success of Danny Boyle, architect of the opening ceremony.
The whole thing was a celebration of Britishness, our history, our literature, our music, our television, our film, our diversity, our multiculturalness (I just made that word up), our National Health Service, our sense of humour, our pageantry and our Queen. Danny (Slumdog Millionaire) Boyle did us proud, directing thousands of volunteers. The Twittersphere was gushing with praise, apart from a certain Tory MP who thought there was too much of that multi-cultural stuff and couldn’t we just get on with beating Johnny Foreigner…At the time of writing he still has a job. Pity.
For me the best bit by far was the Queen parachuting into the stadium from a helicopter with James Bond. It was a wonderful piece of bet-you-never-expected-that film when 007, flanked by royal corgis, entered the Queen’s drawing room, her majesty was writing what looked like her shopping list, back to the camera. We all thought it was a looky-likey, it wasn’t, oh my goodness how her grandchildren must have loved that moment when, with a twinkle in her eye, she said, ‘shall we go, Mr Bond?’.
The big question then was, who would light the Olympic cauldron? The secret had been well-guarded, though smart money was on Steve Redgrave, multiple gold medal winner and our greatest living Olympian. He did take the flame, but handed it to seven youngsters who will be our next generation of athletes. Oh pass the hankies again!
Two more weeks of this, I just wonder if my tear ducts will stand it!