Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympic Beginnings

A friend of mine went to the toilet during the Opening Ceremony, on returning she asked if she'd missed anything.
     'Not much,' was the reply, 'just the Queen parachuting out of a helicopter.'


I really wish I could have been at the first planning meeting for the Opening Ceremony, chaired, I imagine by Danny Boyle. He would say, 'Welcome to our first meeting. This is just an informal chat to get together some ideas for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. So let's go round the table and see what people come up with. Barry, why don't you go first.'
     Barry says, 'Okay. So this is just an idea I had,' he pauses, 'Mr Bean playing the theme tune to Chariots of Fire.'
     There is a moment of silence before Danny turns to Christine. She takes the cue. 'I was thinking about the NHS. You know get some nurses in and some kids on hospital beds. We could get some of those light up duvets, have you seen those?' Everyone looks at somebody else.
     Joe cuts in, 'I want to see something connected to children's literature. Does anyone know where we could get hold of a 60 foot Lord Voldermort?'
     'Not sure,' says Alison, 'but how about the Queen arriving with James Bond and parachuting out of a helicopter?'
     Danny Boyle is now struggling to contain the meeting and goes to Pete in hope of something that will pull everything around.
     Finally everyone is quiet enough for a slightly overawed Pete to say, 'We could have some geese.'


Truly though, all credit to the team behind the Ceremony, an excellent job done. Touching, thrilling, amusing and beautifully British.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Richard sat in the corner, between the Kentia Palm tree and the waste paper bin, which needed emptying. Mr Peters, at his desk, held his head in one hand and a pen in the other, reading and making notes. His face was strained with concentration and every now and then he would frown at something he read. Around him, on the desk, were several piles of paper, books and stationary. At the start of the day they had been neatly stacked and organised but now sheets lay scattered everywhere.
            Richard tried not to lean back in his chair or stretch his legs out; not that Mr Peters would notice but somehow it seemed disrespectful to relax in front of a man working so hard. So instead he sat upright and still. Mr Peters leant over his desk barely moving a muscle, unless to turn a page or scribble something down. Even his eyes barely seemed to move.

‘What am I going to do?’ thought Jack Peters. He stared down at the paper in front of him but didn’t take any of it in. ‘I just can’t believe I forgot it was her birthday,’ he said to himself for the hundredth time. He sat still, head in his hand.
            ‘Why doesn’t Rich move?’ he thought. ‘He’s been sat there all morning and hasn’t shifted at all.’ Jack sketched a bit more of the picture of his wife on the back of the finance report. Then he drew a speech bubble and wrote “RICHARD!” He stopped. Why had he written that. He’d meant to put his own name, why would Emma be shouting at Rich? I don’t think she even knows him. ‘Must be because I was just thinking about him,’ thought Jack.

Richard stared at the framed photo of Emma on the desk. ‘I wonder if Jack’s forgotten it’s her birthday again?’
           He’d only met Emma once, at some work party, but she’d seemed pleasant enough. He suspected though that their marriage was struggling. Several times he’d had to feign deafness while Jack failed to reason with Emma down the phone. Richard was pleased his own relationship was rather more stable.
            His mind turned to his girlfriend, Samantha. ‘What are the chances she’ll be free tomorrow, I can’t believe I haven’t seen her since Tuesday,’ he thought. ‘I must see her tomorrow though, even if it can’t be for dinner.’
            ‘Rich,’ said Jack looking up suddenly, ‘can you go into town and buy some flowers for me?’
            ‘For you?’ Richard replied, ‘I didn’t think you like flowers that much.’
            ‘No not for me, for my wife.’
            ‘Oh right, sorry. Sure. Any particular type?’
            ‘Um, roses. They’re always good.’
            ‘Red ones?’ said Richard, standing up.
            ‘Yeah, cheers Rich,’ answered Jack, his eyes back on the page on his desk.

‘So he did forget Emma’s birthday,’ thought Richard as he strolled along the street. He’d not been to many flower shops before, he always felt overwhelmed by the choice and wasn’t sure what Samantha liked. He made a mental note to find out.
            As he entered the nearest florists the intense mix of scents hit him, causing him to cough. He proceeded more slowly amongst the rows of colourful buds. ‘I’m not sure which I like least,’ he thought, ‘the smell of a florist’s or the smell of those perfume shops.’ Richard didn’t have much of a clue about perfume either, but Samantha had always graciously received anything he’d bought for her.
            ‘How may I help you Sir?’ said the owner from behind him, causing him to jump.
            ‘Oh, err, a bouquet of red roses, please,’ replied Richard.
            ‘Certainly,’ the man said, selecting a few flowers and wrapping them. ‘A good choice, I must say.’
            ‘Thank you.’
            ‘Would you like us to deliver them for you? Anywhere within five miles at no extra cost. Over five we charge a pound for every mile.
            ‘Err, yes,’ said Richard. His head was starting to hurt with the smell of all the flowers, but he gave Mr Peters’ address.
            As the man made a note Richard suddenly recalled that Samantha wouldn’t be free tomorrow because she was meeting a friend. ‘Damn,’ he thought.
            ‘Would you like to write the name on a card to go with the flowers, Sir?’ The man pushed a card across the counter. Richard took a pen from his jacket pocket, wrote Samantha, and passed it back.
            ‘That will be thirty-five pounds please.’
            Richard counted out some notes, nodded his thanks to the man and left as quickly as he could, desperate to get out of the shop.

It was only later, when he was back in Mr Peters’ office, that it occurred to Richard what he’d done. Just then the telephone rang.