Today we are just three days away from the opening of the 2012 Olympics in Stratford, London. It is hard to believe that seven years has gone since we won the right to stage it!
I was privileged yesterday to see the technical rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony on Friday. And what an exciting evening it was! We knew we were witnessing history when the main man behind the Ceremony, Daniel Boyle, proudly announced that we were the 'first people in the world' to see it, and we should #savethesurprise by not tweeting any pictures or giving details to anyone else: to make it a surprise for them as well on Friday. I think any sensible person would agree with that, and so I have given just one shot from from the whole event to give a flavour of the Ceremony. But what an evening it was!
First I arrived with suitable awe at Stratford station for the first time to see the impressive New Olympic Stadium. One has to see it to believe it. The air was filled with excitement as thousands of Ambassadors, some in uniform, many without, and relatives of the performers, made their way to the Olympic Park. The organisers and GamesMakers left nothing to chance. Obviously rehearsing their part too for Friday, they formed a constant line from the underground station to the Stadium, many with giant finger pointers showing the way we should go. There was no question of anyone getting lost, even if they didn't understand English!! It was all graphically displayed in the pink and purple Olympic colours all along the route. As we made our way towards the Olympic Park, everyone was smiling, happy and feeling good at being involved in this phenomenal bit of history.
It was a pretty amazing site approaching the new stadium, after being suitably searched and all drinks confiscated. The Olympic GamesMakers (the ones behind the scenes working with the athletes and at the stadium), were out in full force and did a magnificent job cheering people on, directing them where to go, having jokey banters with them, and allowing themselves to be photographed. One GamesMaker even said how he loved my uniform, and I actually liked his better!! Shows we are never satisfied, are we..:o)
Once inside the stadium area, there were tons of people queuing up to get some food - which was pretty pricey, by the way. Any drink cost between £2 and £3 ($3.50-$5) and a sandwich was $6-$8! But everyone was just glad to be there. I had a rude shock when I went to find my seat, to gradually discover that it was right at the top (excellent views across the stadium), but I'm afraid of heights. Gulp!! I gradually got used to the stunning views and tried not to move around too much. I met some lovely people sitting around me, and one lovely lady, Trisha, decided to look after me when she saw me looking a bit green around the gills after one trip to get some food and the journey back up the zillions of steps, while trying not to look down, took their toll. We had a fab time commenting, appreciating and enjoying the spectacle.
There were lots of sights that brought out the oohs, aaahs and the applause, but they will be revealed on Friday, no doubt. The only thing to say is that the Ceremony began rather simply with a rural scene of England, all green and pleasant and homely, which became very moving in the middle, and ended on a crescendo of techno wizardry which was both surprising and breathtaking. I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of that appreciative crowd witnessing it first. It was all so surreal for me, perhaps because I didn't expect to be there. I was not a Londoner and only Londoners who knew the city were asked to become Ambassadors, at first.
When the London Philharmonic Orchestra rendered the magnificent Chariots of Fire, it was a great ending to a most wonderful evening. The journey back on the new Jubilee Line extension from Stratford was also quick, efficient and professional. A really lovely ending to a memorable occasion. I felt so honoured and thankful to have seen in advance what the world will be experiencing on Friday and, I have to say sincerely, they are really in for a treat!