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Archive for July, 2012

Odds Blog: The 2012 Opening Ceremony – Richard’s view

Posted by indigodream on 30 July, 2012

Friday 27th July

I had the privilege of being asked to do a volunteer shift at the Opening Ceremony. If you are an Olympics sceptic then don’t read this post – I think the Olympics are the greatest show on earth and I am delighted that the games have come to London.

So they are doing silly things on the roads; some of their thinking about how to move people round stations is very silly; what they are doing on the waterways is beyond of silly, but hey, this is the greatest show on earth, it is here, let’s embrace it and enjoy it.

My experience of being a volunteer is completely different to Sue’s. The Olympic Stadium team is highly organised, they learn quickly, they adapt quickly. On opening night there were 500 volunteers in event services, we are just one of the volunteer teams working the stadium. I suspect on opening night there would have been a total of 10,000 volunteers there but that includes the fantastic performers and the amazingly energetic rude mechanicals.

Here’s my ‘journal’ from the big night…
Our evening starts at 2pm with a briefing for all 500 with a reasonable PA system for the speakers. Now the PA system is worth talking about as earlier in the week they only had a suspect megaphone; yet the message got across thanks to impressive personal skills so it worked, but it was not right. By the next briefing they had put in a simple PA system. They learn very quickly and get problems sorted!

So we have a briefing to all 500 volunteers first, then we go to our areas which, for me, meant walking to block 150 on the far side. There we had a specific area briefing, then our 10 person team had a team briefing by block 153 and our team leader walked us round and pointed out all possible issues before sending us round to explore and make sure we were completely familiar with our area e.g. where are the ladies toilets, where is the pram store, where is the nearest first aid store, where are the water fountains. I have to say the briefings are done very well and be they by staffers or volunteers they are all well trained, well informed and do it well.

Here are some of my photos to give you a sense of how I saw the evening:

Waiting for the main briefing, let me paint a picture. It is a temporary prefab, big “L” shaped room, this is roughly one third of it. Everybody is talking, it is loud, people have had great experiences already and they are sharing them. Real eager anticipation ….

Stadium being prepared ….. . This is my view from my first post position – we get rotated, so at times you have a bum job, at other times you have an exciting position.

Checking that the flag poles work

Giving the mosh pits a clean – obviously the crowd in there for the dress rehearsals must been messy!

Daniel Craig having a practice (still can’t get over that those corgis are actually really Buck House residents, what stars!)..

Three more stars: These guys were due to perform just after 9pm as industrialists (is that what they were called?) in the south east corner, roughly where the shire horse would have been. Ah that is another story: We sat just above there on Wednesday so got to see the team coming out with a big wheelbarrow and a very big shovel just after the shire horse left …

Rude mechanicals coming on duty – Did that term come from Midsummer Night’s Dream? They are basically there to direct the audience for tricks like the blue silk drapes – like all the performers they are mega high energy.

Huge crowd coming over the bridge, will ticketing cope?

Of course! Big big teams working each of the bridges, they have queue managers outside directing people to less crowded aisles and simply loads of people on duty to get you through smoothly. They did test events, had a problem, took that away and sorted it.

Arghhhh I can’t remember her name. This lady from Birmingham is really interesting, she takes every opportunity to sit down with someone, take your photo, gets your life history and makes little notes on her smartphone to go with the photo. My entry probably says “good god look at how much he has just eaten” – oh well just as well they don’t serve beer.

and you though Steve Redgrave carried the torch in …



Hopefully these guys will find their photos?

LOCOG take first aid very seriously …. I have to say some of the nurses had amazingly energetic roles to maintain right through that set. I don’t know how they managed it, the 150 hours practice they had must have been a serious get fit assault course! And as for the nurses on skates, so smooth, they looked fantastic

Things were only just starting and look at people’s faces. They were out to enjoy, they were great to talk to as we did our bit, you could not wish for a more fantastic crowd.

I could not resist this photo of one of the backing singers: Hair (tick), Make-up (tick), Sexy dress (tick), Wellies (tick). Oh the Tor was getting a bit Glastonbury like by then but still made me laugh

Just look at the audience!

Forging of the rings, such a great moment

and they thought so too – our stand actually clapped and clapped and then gave them the first of several standing ovations. Great crowd of people, I am honoured to have been working inside the stadium bowl for some of the night

Only a few photos more – time is defeating me as we are off to the White Water Centre soon

Who chucked the match in the box?

I am not sure if this came over on the TV but that hill is seriously steep and awkward to walk up. These guys just walked up smoothly …

They kept this secret very well, we had no idea where the cauldron was going to be, and I have to say I loved the way they had tomorrow’s rising stars light it.

Oh no, it is finishing.

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Boat Blog: Another Speeding Ticket

Posted by indigodream on 29 July, 2012

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Odds Blog: Sue’s Olympic Experiences (7)

Posted by indigodream on 27 July, 2012

Friday 27th July – 10.05pm

Ha, Frankie Goes to Hollywood – could not believe it when I heard it at the rehearsal – I remember when that song was released and the video was banned by the BBC πŸ™‚

At the rehearsal – the light show for Dizzee Rascal’s first song – at this point my poor phone camera ran out of charge – just too much to capture πŸ™‚

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Odds Blog: Sue’s Olympic Experiences (6)

Posted by indigodream on 27 July, 2012

Friday 27th July – 9.45pm

Richard at Glastonbury Tor!

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Odds Blog: Sue’s Olympic Experiences (5)

Posted by indigodream on 27 July, 2012

Friday 27th July – 9.40pm

I’ve had over 100 hits from a ‘tubular bells’ fans forum – for all of you – HERE HE IS πŸ™‚

The light display around the bowl is created by LED panels fixed to each seat – at the rehearsal we were allowed to detach them and make our own lightshow – I hope the audience tonight is allowed to play with them!

Amazing control of each individual light (there’s more to come) – hours of programming I imagine…

The LED panels at the back of every seat…

The LEDs – 9 per panel – who would have thought that such a tiny panel could make such brilliant displays…

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Odds Blog: Sue’s Olympic Experiences (4)

Posted by indigodream on 27 July, 2012

Friday 27th July – 9.20pm

Hope you’re enjoying the show – I’m just as thrilled now as when I saw these bits at the rehearsal – the noise in the bowl was unbelievable – I could feel the vibrations from all of the drums right through my body…

Sorry for the quality of the pics – they were taken on my phone – regretted a million times that I hadn’t taken a proper camera…

At the rehearsal – I couldn’t believe how quickly the scenery changed – I expect the people that lived through the industrial revolution couldn’t either…

At the rehearsal – the newly forged rings – so Olympics and yet so Tolkien – very clever….

I could not believe those rings – amazing!

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Odds Blog: Sue’s Olympic Experiences (3)

Posted by indigodream on 27 July, 2012

Friday 27th July – 8.54am

I’m at home with the hounds – I am being very politically correct – drinking diet coke and eating cadbury’s chocolate – so that’s two official sponsors placated πŸ™‚

I’ll pass on the MacDonalds!

Richard is there!

This is where Richard was stewarding earlier – I’m not sure of he’s still there but I hope has a good view wherever he is…

At the rehearsal – getting the blue sea silks ready for unrolling…

At the rehearsal – the view from under the sea silks..

At the rehearsal – the silks rippling round the bowl…

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Odds Blog: Richard’s Olympic Experiences (2)

Posted by indigodream on 27 July, 2012

The briefing room – there are at least 1,000 volunteers on duty today..

Friday 27th July

Richard’s shift as an Olympic volunteer started at 2pm – he sounds so excited!

This is the update he emailed at 2.25pm:

“Volunteers gathering,Β  excitement growing, hard to hear as everybody trying to tell everybody about their experiences so far at rehearsals. Big smiles, eager anticipation, briefing soon. Loads of noise from stadium as people practice, some new music . . . . . I really can’t wait.”

Followed shortly by a text saying:

“Briefing starting, first welcome cheer so loud. Volunteers getting excellent feedback from audience. No pressure tonight only billion people watching”

I am so happy for him (and not a bit jealous :-P) – I think that he may even be working inside the stadium itself so I hope that he gets a great view of the show, though I’m sure they’ll keep the volunteers busy.

He and the other volunteers are vital to the orderly running of tonight’s extravaganza – though let it not be said that I didn’t make a contribution – I did wash and iron his uniform!

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Odds Blog: Sue’s Olympic Experiences (2)

Posted by indigodream on 26 July, 2012

Thursday 26th July – 1AM

WOW!!!

And again, WOW!!!!

We’ve not long since returned home after attending the dress/technical rehearsal of the Olympic Games opening ceremony – it was quite simply the best show that I’ve ever seen in my life!

It is such an intelligent show – quietly poignant and deafeningly exciting; pastoral and industrial; ancient and modern; witty and solemn – there was the….ooh, and then the aah…. there was so much going on it was hard to know where to look. But I won’t spoil it by saying too much or publishing the many photos that I took (yet!), but it was AWESOME!

Needless to say, the light shows were amazing – and we got lots of audience participation – I love that – I’d much rather be a performer than a spectator.

What I’ll remember most was the music running throughout and the magnificent live musicians – including Mike Oldfield (of tubular bells fame – you have to be a certain age :-)) – it will be the ultimate Olympic ceremony that you can sing along to – whether you’re meant to or not!

And we didn’t even see the whole thing – some bits areΒ  still secret – I cannot wait to see it all on Friday…

I believe that there are still some Β£2,000 tickets left. Sadly I don’t have a granny left to sell, but if you do, then away to e-bay with her – believe me, the ticket’s worth it….

I know many people who don’t like the Olympics, but I beg you all to let your inner child out on Friday evening and allow yourself to enjoy the ceremony – I thought it was quite remarkable. And as for ‘following’ Beijing – Bah!

Richard is working as an Olympic volunteer in the stadium on the night – I hope he gets to work in a part of the building where he can see the whole thing. Otherwise join me in front of the telly (get in front of as big a screen as you can find) – turn the volume to full blast, put on your dancing shoes and jiggle your way through it – I dare you not to join in with the singing!

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Odds Blog: Sue’s Olympic Experiences (1)

Posted by indigodream on 24 July, 2012

Tuesday 24th July

Me getting into the party mood – there was a great atmosphere in Richmond..

Today I was meant to be street roving in Richmond with a colleague from the local smoking cessation service – we were trying to raise awareness of our service and recruit people to the stop smoking groups that we’re running in August. From which you may have gathered that I am a qualified NHS smoking cessation adviser! Unfortunately we’re both a bit rubbish at approaching random people in the street so we found a good kerbside spot to watch the Olympic torch go by.

Now I’ve read many accounts of the torch relay and didn’t expect to be excited or moved by witnessing the event.

But the crowd lining the street in Richmond was infectiously happy – they were cheering passing cars even before the road was closed; they cheered the policemen; we all waved flags and streamers – Richmond was en fete in the sunshine. We didn’t really need the sponsors trucks to add to the excitement, but we all cheered them anyway. One nice touch was the policemen on their motorbikes and push-bikes passing close to the crowd and exchanging “high fives” with us as they drove past – great fun!

Then came the torch bearer – a young woman limping along wearing a beaming smile – it obviously meant the world to her – although I didn’t know her, I felt myself choking up with emotion at the sight of her and cheered her along. Her name is Sarah Austin, she was amazingly poised for a 15 year old – her story is here.

People often say that it is an honour to be a torch bearer, but today I thought that Sarah honoured the torch – how privileged it was to be borne aloft by this young woman. There must be many other inspirational bearers – not just the high profile celebrities – I’m so glad that I saw one of them today.

I will write a post about my Olympic volunteer experience soon – it is very different to Richard’s experience as I am based out at the rowing village i.e. rowers accommodation, at the Royal Holloway College in Egham – but more on that later….

A high or maybe a low five from a passing policemen – great fun…

The star of the show – Sarah Austin – what a great smile…

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