Jaqui's Daily Blog

Inspiring a Generation

Mr B and I are watching the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games all over again.

You remember, I'm sure - the fiery Olympic Rings, the suffragettes (my friend Ann among them), Mary Poppins floating down from on high, Rowan Atkinson plonking a single note on his keyboard and, unforgettably, the Queen herself apparently parachuting into the Olympic Stadium in the company of 007 himself. We weren't actually there in person - but sitting in a comfy armchair in front of the TV was the next best thing on July 27th 2012.

I imagine you are wondering exactly why we are watching this ceremony on this particular day. You are possibly racking your brains to think of the significance of today to those events of 2012. The answer is there isn't any - only to Mr B and me.

For the last two weeks, you see, we have been reading Seb Coe's autobiography "Running My Life." Every afternoon, usually just after lunch, I ask: "Time for a bit of Seb?" At which we sit together at the dining room table and read aloud the latest two chapters from this book. Each reading takes between an hour and an hour and a half - more when we find ourselves breaking off from the narrative to chew over the memories, the history, or the issues raised, from the miners' strike to doping scandals. Then there was the much documented rivalry between Coe and Steve Ovett. Mr B was moved to visit the Amazon Jungle to see if there was an autobiography by Steve Ovett which we could buy in order to read the other side of the story. He nabbed one for the princely sum of one penny - even with £2.81 postage, it was a steal.

A number of chapters covered Coe's short, but fascinating, political career. The insights into the machinations of the Whips' Office were especially interesting - we have already decided that the next book we will read will be "A Very Courageous Decision", the inside story of Yes Minister, a Christmas present from My Boy and his family. We are on a Reading Roll, you can tell.

I struggle a bit with the pronunciation of some of the athletes' names but, fortunately for me, Mr B's encyclopaedic knowledge of All Things Sporting comes to my rescue several times each reading. Mind you, watching the Opening Ceremony on DVD this afternoon, I realise that I have been mispronouncing the name of Jacques Rogge, Chairman of the International Olympics Committee. Ah well, what Jacques doesn't know won't hurt him. Unless he reads the Daily Blog, of course, but I suspect that is unlikely.

The last chapters of the book are all about the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics. Yesterday I read aloud about that day in Singapore when the announcement was made that London's bid to be the host city for the 2012 Olympics had been secured. I have to admit my voice cracked a bit as I read aloud: "The International Olympic Committee has the honour of announcing that the Games of the Thirtieth Olympiad, in the year two thousand and twelve, are awarded to the city of - London."

Triumph was followed by tragedy as London, still celebrating its success, was ripped apart by the 7/7 bombings. Coe describes how a party planned for all the children who had travelled to Singapore, their presence a highly visible demonstration of the planned legacy of the Games, had to be cancelled. He had had to explain to the youngsters that there could be no laughing or giggling as they touched down on home ground. The triumphal return would not happen. "We were all taken quietly out through the VIP gate. Then we said goodbye and went our separate ways." Fifty two people had died in the bombings, most of them on their way to work. During the Opening Ceremony, their photographs were flashed up to remind us of those who tragically did not live to see the Olympics in London.

Watching the Opening Ceremony, we were struck (if you will excuse the pun) by the sight of the mighty Olympic Bell, tolled by Bradley Wiggins to announce that the ceremony was about to begin. At the end of proceedings, Paul McCartney warbled Hey, Jude, beneath it. Last year, Mr B and I visited the Whitechapel Bell Foundry where the magnificent bell was made. This should, surely, have merited a mention by the commentators, given that the foundry is the oldest and most famous in the world, not to mention being based in London's East End. We quietly congratulated ourselves on being In The Know.

Tomorrow afternoon we will read the last two chapters of Seb's book. We will be recalling, I know, how we paid out a fortune to secure seats in the Olympic Stadium on Super Saturday. We had promised ourselves for years and years that one day we would go to the Olympics. This was almost certainly our last chance and we were not about to miss it. We were also privileged to spend a day at the Paralympics to be inspired all over again.

The book's final chapter is entitled "Inspire a Generation." I doubt I will get all the way through it without the renowned Usher Gene reducing me to tears when Seb announces "We lit the flame and we lit up the world." I can't help it, it's just the way I am. Fortunately Mr B will doubtless have the tissues ready. He knows me so well.

Thanks, Seb, for a thoroughly enjoyable read and a truly amazing Olympic Games in London 2012. Mr B and I, sitting at our dining room table in companionable togetherness, salute you.


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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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