Olympic Euphoria Is Offset by Elitism at the Heart of the Games Extravaganza

The Journal (Newcastle, England), August 3, 2012 | Go to article overview

Olympic Euphoria Is Offset by Elitism at the Heart of the Games Extravaganza


Byline: KATE FOX

IT'S the real Queen! was also the moment that got me. Before that, I'd tweeted that the Olympic opening ceremony looked like a set-up for It's a Knockout.

I was expecting Stuart Hall to start doing the announcements and I wasn't quite convinced by Kenneth Branagh being Kenneth Branagh. I thought the five gold rings that had been forged should turn into massive gold coins that clanged to the ground to represent the credit crunch.

It's ironic that it was the Queen joining in that turned the tide. Her Jubilee celebrations had been a reminder that the North is marginalised in any national public representations. But then, suddenly, in Northerner Danny Boyle's vision, here we were.

From the Jarrow Marchers to Rowan Atkinson and the Arctic Monkeys to the smelting of Thomas Heatherwick's cauldron. By the end of the ceremony I felt a rush of euphoria and optimism I hadn't felt since before the Tories started sweeping things away.

It reminded me of how I once interviewed Danny Boyle in the Malmaison when I used to work for Metro Radio. He'd come to Newcastle to promote his film The Beach and spoke so passionately about writing about things that inspired you that I said I was going to write a screenplay about the North East.

He said "Go for it!", but I never did. However, that surge of excitement was part of what led me to give up being a radio journalist and become a writer.

It was a surge of excitement I felt again on watching his fun, exuberant, thoughtful show that reflected a picture of Britain that I and lots of other people recognised for once.

However, when I found myself saying of the GB eventing team that it was nice to see some athletes who you might meet in Tesco, I realised that I might be letting the euphoria that had been smuggled in by the opening ceremony turn my brain as mushy as a festival field.

My husband expostulated: "What Tesco do you shop in?!" I'd meant it was nice to see older women and a bloke, all competing together. …

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