Camp beds, James Bond and Pandemonium: the Olympics have arrived.

July 29th 2012

I was going to blog about babies and business which hit the headlines last week – namely how the newly appointed pregnant CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer will not take maternity leave and bring her baby to work, and the CEO of Addison Lee, Liam Griffin wants his staff to be able to bring their babies to work. I only hope the babies like being tucked under desks and that proximity to Mum or Dad is sufficient to constitute good childcare.

However, as London has launched the 30th Olympiad at a fantastical and slightly bonkers opening night, I felt it was only right and patriotic to comment on the Olympics – not least the fabulous efforts of all 23 LEYF nurseries to complete our own Olympic torch’ relay.

I felt morally obligated to watch the opening ceremony – the only time in my life I have done this.  Like the Eurovision Song Contest, I tend to avoid these big blockbuster affairs as they tend to be jingoistic and mawkishly sentimental (a combination that leaves me feeling slightly nauseous). However, this year I along with 27 million others made do with the TV version. Frankly, I would have preferred to be there, as no doubt the music, lighting, fireworks and atmosphere would have added to the whole experience.  (As it happened, I had a friend who miraculously had got a ticket and gave up to date commentary.)

I really liked the involvement of children, and the focus on them as our next generation of sports people was joyful.  I also loved the Chaos Choir, although at the beginning I did wonder whether we had all arrived in Pandemonium. Indeed if this is the City of Hell, I am going to try harder to get to the Pearly Gates. At least now we know why the NHS is always in trouble; the doctors and nurses are all taking dance classes. (No wonder you can’t find a nurse on the wards to plump up the patients pillows, they are all out the back practising their jazz swings and selling the beds to Danny Boyle’s production company.)

I loved the parade which included 204 countries, some of which were new to me.  In fact it was a bit of a geography lesson, as we heard of newly named free countries and so many from the Pacific Islands. Most touching was the representation from those countries which have recently or currently experienced war, civil unrest, hunger, piracy and environmental disasters. Their ambition to attend was heartening. I really hope they get medals.

And wasn’t it fantastic that we have women in every team for the first time? No more room for complacency on the issue of women’s equality across the globe – and such a great way for us to teach our own children not to be casual about what has been hard won! It reminds me of a great film called The Source made in Morocco recently, where women went on strike from their wifely bedroom duties until the men would get them piped water. It was a modern story but the issues and attitudes went back centuries.

I thought Sebastian Coe’s speech was heartfelt too, as he reminded us of the reason for the Olympics: linking sport with culture and education; celebrating the joy achieved from effort and helping build a better world through sport practised in a spirit of peace, excellence, friendship and respect.  It’s a shame more of the athletes and their organising colleagues did not pay more respect to him by listening instead of jumping around, chewing gum and playing with their phones. Role models for the next generation, I hope not.  If anything, that was much more evident from our friends in the military and the beautiful and orderly formation of a respectful Chelsea Pensioner troop. The behaviour of the 1000 volunteers was also praised and will no doubt bring a tear to David Cameron’s eye, as a little bit of his Big Society dream comes alive in London over the next few weeks.

In the end, the Olympics is here and I wonder how many camp beds we will need at LEYF?  Will we be Happy and Glorious like James Bond or will John Milton’s vision of Pandemonium be the legacy? Let’s hope that many people are touched by the harmony that sport can play in developing our modern society and that those young people who lit the Olympian flame will salute the democratic spirit of the Olympics and reflect it in the way they shape the future.