I have, despite what I may have previously stated, watched lots of the events. How could I not watch Jessica Ennis; a fellow Sheffield girl who is, according to my friend who used to teach her, as lovely as she looks? It would have been rude not to really. Bizarrely, I have enjoyed the women’s weight lifting, even though I am 100% convinced that some of them were actually men, and found myself getting very involved in the cycling.
The best bit for me though is the way it has brought everybody together in a way I can’t remember happening for what seems like a very long time. It started with the opening ceremony. Oh how I’d ridiculed the prospect of that; all 26 million pounds worth of it. And yet, within seconds of it starting, I was captivated. The amateurish fact that it was mainly ordinary people, singing and dancing their hearts out, almost reduced me to tears. I loved it, every little bit of it, even the interminably boring bit when all the competing teams came out.
Almost as good as the ceremony itself was the way it triggered a frenzy of texting and tweeting, as though we all knew we were being unified by this historic event, and wanted to get even closer. That for me is the beauty of twitter and why, against all the odds, it has me hooked; it makes the world seem smaller.
That’s what this Olympics has done for me; it has shrunk the country by somehow forcing us to forget our differences and united us behind what’s turned out to be an amazing event. I’m not naive enough to think it really means anything. I mean it’s only a year ago since we were seeing riots all over the country and nothing has really changed, despite what the politicians would have us believe. Just for a couple of weeks though we can forget all that and make like we are one big happy bunch.
I remember years ago, probably in the 70s, the country seemed small and the population connected by the fact that we had so little choice. There were only three TV channels and chances were everybody up and down the country would be watching the same thing (there was little else to do given that nothing had been invented yet!) I remember going to school and every child would have watched the exact same programme with their family the evening before. There was a common currency as we all had the same experiences. That has all been eradicated as our choices have become more diverse; there’s cable TV, the internet and DVDs. All of these things mean that we are all doing our own thing and it can sometimes feel as though we are living in our own individual little bubble.
There have been other events which have briefly pricked the membrane of those bubbles and forced us all to come out and connect with each other. Mostly though they have been bad things; the terrorist attack on The Twin Towers, the London bombings and last year’s riots. Events that were so unique and shocking, they forced us to turn to each other to try and make sense of what seemed like total madness in our midst. This year though we have come together in a brief burst of pure human joy. Never have I seen people more cheerful and happy despite the fact that we are probably going to be footing the bill for the next millennia.
We are living in strange times and it’s easy to feel alienated and disenfranchised. We only have to look at recent incidents of mass violence to see how dangerous those feelings can be. The Olympics have been the culmination of a year of celebrations in this county which have been the antithesis of this. I am not a royalist but I suddenly can’t bring myself to belittle the way that people have embraced, first the royal wedding and then the Queen’s golden jubilee. It simply serves to highlight how desperately people are searching for something to latch onto; something tangible that makes sense be it royal pageantry or the Olympic Games.
For this reason I’m a little bit sad that it’s all going to shortly be coming to an end. Maybe now that we have paid for the facilities anyway, we should just keep randomly inviting the rest of the world to join us for events, in much the same way you might invite the neighbours around for drinks. It doesn’t have to be the full on sporting events, I realise it takes it a fair bit of training on the part of the athletes and I wouldn’t want to wear them out. However, we could throw it open to whoever wants to come and maybe host the Olympic egg and spoon race or sack race or even the three legged race. All interspersed with lots of street parties, ceremonies and maybe a few carnivals. What do you think? I’m already getting a little bit excited.