My Olympic Odyssey (Part 10): Ceremony rehearsals

‘Twas the first rehearsal in the London Olympic Stadium for the volunteer dancers taking part in the opening ceremony. The car park in Dagenham we’d been in prior to that didn’t quite have the same vibe.

‘Twas raining. And cold. During the afternoon there was much sitting around, gawping at the awesome, surprisingly intimate 80,000 seater stadium. Sporadic bits of dancing took place between the waiting.

‘Twas dark and we’d finished for the night – our first run through of the performance complete. With no music or flashy lights and getting used to the surroundings, it wasn’t pretty.

Most people had shuffled off the main stage, trying to get out of the rain when the lights proper came on and music boomed into the crowd-less space for the first time. I unfurled myself from my waterproof cocoon, letting the rain splash on my face, and started to dance.

Across the stage I spotted a fellow dancer, arms whirling to the music with anorak hood pulled low. We gravitated towards each other, my short-sighted rain-filled eyes taking a while to register it’s the director of the ceremony, film guru and thoroughly nice man, Danny Boyle, with whom I’m enjoying the moment.

I’d seen him a few times at the glamorous car-park rehearsals, taking time to thank everyone he could on their way home after a long day. One of the costume team described how Boyle had made it very clear that everyone was to be treated as an individual – not just a bit gaggle to get organised – and that everyone had volunteered huge amounts of time to make the opening ceremony the best it could be. Whatever he said, worked.

In my special moment I wish I’d said ‘Well done’. I wish I’d said, ‘Thank you’. I wish I’d said ‘Don’t listen to the naysayers polluting the press – it will be wonderful’.

Instead. “Hello Danny. This is A-MAZING. I’m a Freddie reverb”.
“What?” bellowed Danny through the music and rain, coming closer.
“I’m a Freddie reverb,” shout I.
“Oh,” he grinned. “A…” and waved his arms in the manner of my costume.
“Yes,” I say, mirroring his action and grinning back.

Grinning and dancing in the rain, off he whirled to centre stage.

‘Twas a wonderful moment.

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