Since my relocation to London in 2008, I’ve spent a good half of the time creeped out by the 2012 Olympics mascots. I have to admit, though, the longer they’ve been in the public eye (emphasis on “eye” considering they have eyeballs for heads), the more they’ve grown on me thanks to their symbolism.
If you’ve newly made a relocation to London, I’ll bring you up to speed on our dear Wenlock and Mandeville.
To quickly recap my mention of it Friday (in case your relocation to London had kept you too busy to read it), Wenlock is the official mascot of the Olympic Games, and Mandeville is the mascot for the Paralympics. Wenlock is named for the Shropshire town that inspired the modern-day Games, and Mandeville is named for the Buckinghamshire hospital that likewise birthed the Paralympic concept. England was clearly very instrumental in originating the grand events we’re now celebrating, so it’s appropriate that the Games have made their third relocation to London in 104 years.
Side by side, Wenlock and Mandeville appear as two eyes of one face, but each is its own individual Cyclops. Now, why the Iris creative agency devised such weird, seemingly random creatures lacking the gravitas of previous mascots had escaped me. But after seeing the opening ceremony and its emphasis on youth—e.g., the Great Ormond Street Hospital kids jumping on their beds, the boy elevated at the end of the moving tribute to 7/7’s terrorist victims (which happened prior to my relocation to London but affects us all no less than the locals), and the anonymous young athletes who lit the cauldron—it’s fitting that our mascots should engage a younger audience as well. They’ll be our future athletes, after all, and, for that matter, our future.
“Our brief was to create mascots that would excite and inspire young people and encourage them to get involved in sport.” – Grant Hunter, Iris
Wenlock and Mandeville were thus the result of children and family focus groups in a deliberate attempt to appeal to youngsters. Aside from making for fun toys, they’re a big element of London 2012’s “Get Set” program (getset.london2012.com), a focus on children’s education that should hopefully shed some optimism on your relocation to London if you’re moving here as a family and want your kids to learn (and be inspired by) positive, healthy values. The mascots also have their own colorful and creatively interactive website where kids can play games, design their own mascot, and so much more—see mascot-games.london2012.com as something to entertain your family when the stress of relocation to London could otherwise get ya down!
Perhaps it goes without saying that these wild-n-crazy guys are well-geared toward children. But there’s more going on with their body shapes, colors, and so forth that you might not have realize (understandable, of course, when a relocation to London has you a bit preoccupied with other matters!).
To start, both Wenlock and Mandeville are apparently drips of steel to represent England’s Industrial Revolution (a pivotal moment in British history and, consequently, Friday’s opening ceremonies—see my British history series, actually, if your relocation sparks interest in it). Wenlock is primarily silver but with streaks of gold and bronze to symbolize the three Olympic medals, which also apparently accounts for the three points atop his head. Mandeville’s coloring, however, reflects the red, green, and blue of the Paralympics icon—the three crescents of which likewise feature on his head.
On closer inspection, you might also note that both mascots have taxi lights on their heads in homage to the black taxis—your relocation will acquaint you with these fine vehicles soon enough; I must say, I’m turned off American taxis forever as a result of their spaciousness and the drivers’ know-how! But back on topic, the bracelets around Wenlock’s wrists are the five colored Olympic rings symbolizing the five participating continents—or more so the major regions, as North and South America are combined. The rings’ colors themselves are taken from those of all the countries’ flags as of 1912. (On a side note, if you’d like to take in the beauty of the world’s flags in a truly festive and enriched way, as soon as you can after making your relocation, stroll down its famous Regent Street)
Depending on your UK experience, a number of images may come to represent your relocation. Who knows, it could be Wenlock and Mandeville themselves if you’re moving here in 2012! Whatever the case, there’s no doubt the Olympic Games are setting the prevailing mood for all of us already living here, so may you find your own meaning in them if not your relocation to London.