Saturday, 28 July 2012

Isles of Wonder

It was the poor old Queen I felt sorry for - obliged to participate in that puerile James Bond stunt, then sit through yet another dreary pop concert and an endless parade of grinning athletes. You could see she wasn't really enjoying it, not the way she enjoyed the Jubilee flotilla - or Epsom, come to that. She must have been thinking wistfully back to the 1948 Olympics, and wondering where it all went wrong...
  As for the content, such as it was, of Danny Boyle's Opening Ceremony spectacular, this came across (to me at least) as little more than a sentimental, politically correct primary school History lesson - appropriately enough for a Games whose logo was clearly the product of a primary school design project. Yes, the Boyle extravaganza was bold, brash, bizarre, bonkers, and a truly astonishing technical achievement. But to me it all had a weirdly post-apocalyptic feel, as if the survivors of some great collapse had come across a machine whose levers they could press to make it work - but they no longer knew what it was for, what it meant. It seemed the expression of an absence, a loss - but executed in the most extravagantly triumphant and positive terms. Very very strange...
  But never mind all that. This morning, as I was walking through the subway that links the platforms at my railway station (where, as throughout London, most of the staff are wearing nasty purple-pink jerkins to remind us that the IOC's in charge for the duration), I spotted at head height on the tiled wall what seemed to be a pair of dead leaves, perhaps snagged in a bit of spider's web. But no, it was a resting Poplar Hawk moth, like the one in the picture - a bit more faded, and a little ragged, but still beautiful.  Life, in all its random wonder, goes on.

11 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more. The usual suspects are calling it brilliant, but it really wasn't very enjoyable. At all.

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  2. Glad you said that first Nige, I was eventually banished last night for suggesting that, although compared with the Chinese spend, ours seemed a bit Matalan, it was, as spectaculars go, spectacular. Especially for the punters in the stadium. We, unfortunately languished behind the firewall, the one called BBC, the corp threw the weight of it's best wet lettuce into the fray, Huw Edwards, master of banalities. That comment did it, off to the tree house I went, borrowed laptop secreted about my person, heading for the iplayer and Cellini's salt cellar and, a bonus, the owls having a hoot-in.

    Gold medal banality of the night, HE, as it snowed shredded documents, "its paper, biodegradable paper", you couldn't make it up, could you.

    Looks like the numbers pre tagged to our medal haul are already being disapprovingly revised, via the curled lip of that well known BBC news presenter, the thin burd.

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  3. I read a comment elsewhere to the effect that it was like a fugue in the mind of a faded movie queen with Alzheimer's, half-remembering a jumble of long past glories.

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  4. Wow! That's a great image for it Mike...
    Huw Edwards is one of the abiding mysteries of our national life. And talking of abiding, did anyone ever sing Abide With Me worse that whoever that was, the Scots girl? Like Marilyn Monroe's Happy Birthday without the sex...

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  5. What I've found interesting from the moment we knew we were hosting the Damn Thing is the variety of takes on it all, and how people's inclination to Left of Right seems to have nothing to do with what they feel about the massive budget/overspend, and all the rest. On the Big Night I was in a room with an ex doctor with socialist/communist leanings, who looked terribly upset about the whole massive expense and the celebration of the NHS in present circs, alongside a Freemason, who's never voted anything but Conservative, who loved every minute, and thinks it's all a Very Good Thing for the Country - and a collection of people who fell somewhere between. It made for a very lively evening along with much drink and good humour, because in the end we wanted to enjoy ourtselves!
    But whatever we all made of the event, it's bound to have a long-term cost we can't conceive of yet.
    I don't think huge budget necessary produces the best creative outcome - the most moving theatre productions I've seen have often been low budget - same with film. It would have been wonderful to give the message to the world that we Brits are so ingenius and creative that we can produce a marvel on an 'austerity budget'. I'm sure we could have done. It might have been more apropriate.

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  6. Are you sure the Queen enjoyed the flotilla? I assume her husband developed his bladder infection from standing around in the cold unable to have a pee. It must be dreadful for them to have to loiter for hours like that. Mind you it was probably preferable to watching a massively amplified Dizzie Rascal in a huge stadium at midnight.

    I enjoyed it though. Does it all have to make sense? I think it's best to be wary of countries that are mobilised behind a mission. I also suspect that national feeling around here has always been associated with a sense of loss, the expression of an absence, a nostalgia. I blame the Norman Conquest.

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  7. I think the entirety of the Opening Ceremony should have been Boris, standing on a crate, with a microphone, babbling Borisly at us for about fifteen minutes (with Latin quotes, of course).

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  8. That would indeed have been ideal Frank - esp if he was suitably clad in a chiton or somesuch - and a cool 27 mill cheaper...

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  9. I thought it was excellent apart from the Queen stunt. Probably the first and last Olympic Ceremony containing a genuinely LOL-funny gag (Rowan Atkinson pressing that one note in Chariots of Fire). More in today's Dabbler Diary.

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  10. LOL? Whatever drugs you were on, Brit, please send some by the next post...

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  11. I still liked it better than China.

    I'd rather see quirky than a hymn to regimentation.

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