The South East London Olympics [UPDATED]


BC must have watched the London 2012 Opening Ceremony five times now. Partly because we had to re-watch it after first seeing it on the big screen in Greenwich, which had speakers so small it would have embarrassed a teenager's bedroom. Partly because it was the most joyous thing we've ever seen. As Ai Weiwei wrote, it was the personal details that made it work so well:

In London [compared with Beijing] there were more close-ups – it didn't show the big formations. It had the human touch. In Zhang Yimou's opening ceremony there was almost none of that. You could not push into a person's face and see the human experience. What I liked most with this was that it always came back to very personal details. And that's what makes it a nation you can trust; you see the values there. Anyone who watched it would have a clear understanding of what England is.

Jostling with the Queen and Mr Bean for "the most face time in an Olympic ceremony" gold medal was Jasmine Breinberg, the lead performer in the musical journey sequence, who, as well as being a Brit School student, is a Crossfields resident.  The Crossfields Estate blog says:

Like all the other performers, Jazz was sworn to secrecy and wouldn't talk about her role before the show. On Wednesday, her mum said, "She is SO underplaying it, says it's no big deal! Two billion watching on telly, 60,000 in the stadium and a feature in an hour long section! She's excited though and having fun."

Together with Humphrey Keeper, the choir boy soloist from Forest Hill, and Doreen Lawrence, who carried the Olympic flag, South East London faces represented Britain to the world.

UPDATE: Here's a video diary by a Brockley nurse who danced in the Opening Ceremony:

40 comments:

fong said...

I was also one of the volunteer performers (in the NHS section). There were a good handful of us locals as Temujin, who choreographed this section, works at Greenwich Dance Agency and encouraged a lot of us to audition. Tem and his co-choreographer Sunanda live in Brockley, near Meze Mangal.

Mb said...

What with brockley designing the torch and me guiding hapless Europeans the wrong way at north Greenwich, this is basically the Brockley Olympics 2012

In your FACE Ladywell!

Brockley Ian said...

My wife and Brockley resident, Kate, was one dancing nurses in the opening ceremony.

Here is a short video diary of the performance day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfCVv3NgAn4&feature=youtu.be

Hats off to all the volunteers who gave up hours, upon hours of their time many of them spent outside in the rain.

Best opening ceremony ever.

I

Sue said...

And of course we've got Lewisham's Conrad Williams taking part in the athletics for Team GB (the 4x100m relay, I think).

Anonymous said...

Conrad used to be a paperboy at Jay's budgens. They are very proud of the fact

Anonymous said...

The opening ceremony was must have been great fun for those involved and I would have loved to have had a chance to have taken part. The mechanics of the whole set and the logistics difficulties involved with the huge numbers of performers was also staggering.

But there was something wrong with how it all fitted together. Was the intention eally to portray Britain as a once pleasant land, polluted and turned derelict by commerce? Where was the celebration of British achievements post Brunel? And if we are celebrating Brunel, why not Newton? The music didn"t seem to portray anything and when we had some classical music, it had to be dumbed down by Rowan Atkinson acting idiotic.

10/10 for effort; but no more than 6/10 for achievement.

Bert said...

@ Anon 20.17
I thought it was a good opening ceremony but I do agree with you about the classical music bit. It was just meant to be funny but, actually it wasn't even a proper bit of classical music and I don't think they were playing either because they all had identical shiny instruments. It was all for show, just a little frustrating when Macca gets wheeled out and he can't even sing these days.

pseud said...

or the thousands of other scientific or engineering ground breakers blah, blah, bah. it wasnt a history lesson, it was a populist show. seeing that the modern industrial world started in the uk and is still with us i dont think that it was a bad snapshot. the music was fine, people recognised it. it wasnt supposed to be an esoteric concert for specialsts.

....except macca. oh dear.

Chris said...

You can add to this that Conrad Williams who will be running the 400m used to be a paperboy at Jay's Budgens and the sprinter James Ellington was a pupil of Forest Hill Boys.

Brockley Nick said...

It wasn't saying Britain was ruined by the industrial revolution either - after all, the Olympic Rings were forged by those factories and were beautiful. It just acknowledged that the industrial age came at a price.

This is what Danny Boyle said it was about in his show notes:

“You’ll see ordinary families and extraordinary athletes. Dancing nurses, singing children and amazing special effects. But we hope too that through all the noise and excitement, you’ll glimpse a single golden thread of purpose – the idea of Jerusalem – of a better world, the world of real freedom and true equality, a world that can be built through the prosperity of industry, through the caring nation that built the welfare state, through the joyous energy of popular culture, through the dream of universal communication. A belief that we can build Jerusalem. And that it will be for everyone.”

Anonymous said...

Sounds a bit religious, Nick?

Brockley Nick said...

In what way?

Anonymous said...

Well, you know... Jerusalem?

Anonymous said...

well Danny Boyle was considering becoming a priest in his youth

Mike said...

As a former resident of Brockley (1962 -1968!) I find your site very interesting. This blog particularly so, as there is so much olympic involvement for the local area. Regarding the opening ceremony, surely no one could better the comment of local (and national)journalist Patrick Collins, who said that this is the only opening ceremony he can remember that you would wish to view for a second time!Dead right.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the Brockley nurse for the video - fantastic

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the Brockley nurse for the video - fantastic

Anonymous said...

Macca attended Goldsmiths, does that count?

Anonymous said...

There may have been close ups but some of the items never made the TV screen...boo hoo.

Anonymous said...

You can use "Jerusalem" in a secular context. "the God particle" was a term used by an avowed atheiest. Chill.

Anonymous said...

I believe Peter Higgs dissaudes use of the term 'god particle'...

If we were to build Jerusalem, it would be full of honest fare and real people. It would be nothing like the Brockley of the last 5 years or so.

dave said...

Oh, you still find honest fare funny?

Trollhunter said...

Poor sad, strange honest fare troll. Crying into his Pot Noodle every night about some people he's never met that live in 'his' part of London and might be a bit different from him.
Let it go mate - nobody gives a flying one about you and your life - stop obsessively going on and on about ours.

Trollhunter said...

Rome wasn't built in a day and that had plenty of honest fare.

Anonymous said...

I was also in the NHS section and it was very much allcaps AMAZING.

Hooray for Temujin and Sunanda!

Tamsin said...

"The caring world that built the Welfare State..." A fitting swansong for the NHS as we knew it - hope Lansley was watching.

A great ceremony - images of Isengard, but the forging of the Olympic rings was absolutely fantastic - there is always something truely magical about molten iron.

Newton is international - to my mind - rather than quintessentially British, unlike Brunel - and there was the reference to Berners-Lee and the web.

Anonymous said...

Lefties like to say that the Tories are dismantling the NHS but they can never quite come up with the ways in which they're doing so.

Contrary to popular belief our political system isn't one in which all the good guys are on one side and all the bad on the other. There is complexity in politics and running a country as with elsewhere in life.

Sarcastic lefty said...

Wise words, very profound.

Tamsin said...

Couldn't agree more - basic problems with the NHS were the BMA whose mouths at the outset were "stuffed with gold" and the stranglehold of the Unions on working practices that meant, among otherthings, that expensive equipment was unused for 16 hours out of 24 and inefficiencies could not be dealt with. Maggie Thatcher started the creeping privatisation and New Labour continued the process.

It is a hugely complex problem requiring courage and complexity to change.

But this is not the time or place to debate it.

Anonymous said...

1948 was also the year the last Olympics held in London.

Given that was the year of the foundation of the NHS.

And that being the era of Jive, Swing and Lindy Hop dancing.

It all seemed to fit together and the performance had great humour.

It is worth a second look to spot all the references, they come thick and fast.

Tamsin said...

Talking of second looks - or even first ones if you could not watch when first broadcast - and before I write to ask the BBC... Does anyone know whether they will be producing DVDs of their coverage of the minority interest sports? My daughter fences but is out of the country at the moment and asked us to record the various sessions. However that has proved almost impossible as it does not seem to be being broadcast on the Freeview channels - or at least not at pre-publicised times. And she is too far away to be able to watch on-line.

I would also like to be able to watch the Rhythmic Gymnastics - which is at least as serious a Beach Volleyball and more visual.

honor oak bark said...

There's loads of sports on the red button & BBC website but you need to be v organised with your remote, a schedule & your pencil to get what you're looking for & not be sucked into coverage of something completely different and in which you were previously completely disinterested. My husband is a whizz at the former but a sucker at the latter every time. For this reason alone, the dvd idea is great! Write it in to the BBC!
Anyway, rythmic gymnastics is later this week. Tweddle is in the final on the uneven bars, 14:50 today!

Anonymous said...

You can download various coverage off thebox.bz

Tamsin said...

@ honor oak bark. Thanks for this - my husband couldn't work out how to record from the BBC website and it doesn't seem to be obtainable in Australia (apart from the time difference meaning serious lack of sleep!).

I will indeed write - and let others do so as well.

honor oak bark said...

Apparently, as BBC is not official Olympics broadcast, Olympic related content is not available overseas.... But the guardian website has some links to internationally streamed feeds in an article about this. Sorry can't post link in here from phone!

hob said...

Ah, and Guardian also has a cool Lego reconstruction in their brick by brick series... Damn, am now wishing I'd seen more of the Fencing!! Too much sport, too little time!

Tamsin said...

Well hopefully four years if it can be accessed other than in real-time - and better still if we have recordings commercially available.

Will pass on the Guardian website suggestion to my daughter in case she can make anything of it.

What I really liked was a snippet of one of the few interviews I've seen on TV, with Carl Lewis who now is invited to every Olympics as a pundit (fully justified). He apparently each Olympiad picks out two new sports to learn about and engage with. So laudable. Not taken up with his own celebrity, but outgoing and interested in learning more and supporting others.

hob said...

Yes I saw that, he picked fencing as one of his 2 new sports for 2012! Your daughter should ask him if he took any mobile footage ;)

CapnPatch said...

Trust me, a very interesting maths question arises from today's pole vault. If the pole breaks in two places, as the Cuban's did, what is the chance that you can make a triangle out of the pieces, with all ends touching? Full analysis please.

kolp said...

So it's all over, til the paralympics which I shall be attending.

Loved the opening ceremony. Felt the opposite for the closing ceremony.

Clearly Her Majesty knew it would be something of a Corgi's breakfast, and gave it a miss (as did Charles, & William probably) hence poor Harry & the eternally enthusiastic Catherine being sent along!

But all in all I'm immensely proud of London, for its hospitality.

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