When first moving to London, I was insistent that my husband and I were only going to stay a couple years. After all, moving to London involves a tremendous amount of change as you leave loved ones behind and change jobs if not careers. Nope, it wasn’t supposed to be in the cards for us when moving to London in 2008 to still be here in 2012, yet as I stood street-side and watched the flaming torch run through my neighborhood yesterday for the 2012 Olympic Games, I thought, yeah, it’s pretty cool to still be here for this.
So, what’s going on opening day if you’re watching the Olympics on TV or moving to London in time for them?
At 8:12 this morning, thousands of people across town joined in ringing in the Olympics. Initiated by artist/musician Martin Creed, “Work No.1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes” invited every person and bell in the UK—from doorbells to bike bells to church bells (and Big Ben, of course!)—to ring their hearts out for three minutes.
Even if you weren’t moving in time for this, have a go at the pretty sounds the website makes when you run your mouse cursor over the images at www.allthebells.com. London 2012 had also made an app for it if anyone wanted to participate with their smart phone (more 2012 apps available here: www.london2012.com/mobileapps).
As of 5pm London time (and presumably still going on as I write this!), the official London 2012 mascots, Mandeville and Wenlock, are premiering on CBBC in the short animated film, “Rainbow to the Games.” You aren’t the only one moving here—these odd little eyeball guys have been traveling round the UK for two years now, and this show supposedly “documents” their arrival for the Games.
A bit of trivia for those of you moving and interested in UK history—or any of you excited for the Games, for that matter: the Olympics mascot Wenlock is named for the small village in Shropshire called Much Wenlock, where the “Much Wenlock Games” were held, showcasing country sports and athletics. In 1890, a local promoter of the importance of physical education in schools, Dr. William Penny Brookes, invited Baron Pierre de Coubertin to watch, which then inspired the latter man to propose a modern form of the Olympic Games in 1894. The proposal was accepted, and the first modern Olympic Games as we know them were hosted in Athens a couple years later. The Paralympics mascot Mandeville is named for Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, where, in the 1940s, competitions were held for wounded soldiers—and thus the Paralympic Games were born. Given Britain’s influence them, how appropriate that the Games are moving for a third time in Olympic history.
There’s actually a lot going on with these crazy guys. To be honest, I never understood the mascots and their relevance, but the more I learn, the more I appreciate the very deliberate thought and meaning put into designing each. Methinks I’ll leave that as a blog post for another day…
Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle is the Artistic Director for tonight’s opening ceremony, so expectations are high. If you’ve already completed traveling or moving to London, it’s at 9pm our time.
Admittedly, some of the early comments I heard on the bits of the show that were revealed were rather sarcastic. Endeavoring to capture the quintessential British spirit, Boyle has apparently included fake clouds, one of which will rain…as if those of living or moving to London right now haven’t seen enough of the real ones lately!! And being the largely rural, agrarian nation that it is, what would Britain be without its livestock? Yep, livestock. 12 horses, 3 cows, 2 goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, 9 geese, 70 sheep, and 3 sheepdogs, to be exact. PETA is not amused. I, however, am. Greatly.
As for the human count, approximately 10,000 volunteers are helping make the magic happen. Miscellaneous images in the media have revealed a very green countryside and cottage-y look for the set (an apt representation that you’ll especially appreciate after moving and touring outside the city), with a multitude of dancers and I can only presume singers and musicians. The video above is a quickie sneak-peek.
Yet for as much has been shared with the press over the last months, there’s one aspect of the ceremony on which the director remains firmly tight-lipped: the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Since moving here a few years ago, I’ve seen a lot of major events go down here, including the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee, so my bet is on one of the royals having the honor. Who knows, but I swear if it’s Robbie Williams or Katie Price I’m going to punch myself in the face.
Moving to London never ceases to reward us with an eventful life, so I hope it’s as much a thrill for you—especially if you’re moving in time for this global Olympic extravaganza!