Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony left me speechless, mainly because it’s very hard to comment on something that makes absolutely no coherent sense.
When Danny Boyle gets a little peckish and decides to make a sandwich, I bet his thought process starts out perfectly harmlessly. I bet he starts off saying, “I know, I’ll just keep it simple and get a nice freshly baked roll…” But then he starts putting in one filling, and another filling, and then pretty soon he’s thinking, “And then I’ll put every filling known to man inside it… And then I’ll paint it multi-coloured neon and stick it in the deep fat fryer… But there’s no point eating the sandwich on my own, so I’ll just invite a few mates round, I don’t know, maybe James Bond and Mr Bean and Paul McCartney and the Queen, and we’ll all eat it together… Come to think of it, I may need to raise a few million pounds for this…”
It’s not like South Africa can even talk, since the most memorable part of our World Cup opening ceremony involved giant dung beetles. And even though I didn’t really know what was going on, I have to say that Danny Boyle’s decision to spend £27 million* trying to recreate this crazy dream he once had after he’d taken too many magic mushrooms was far more interesting than what followed.
I don’t just mean the bit where every country in the world, including ones I am still not convinced actually exist, marched across the screen ad nauseum. I dozed off during this period waiting for South Africa, which is near the end owing to the Olympic Committee’s infuriating decision not to hold the 2012 Olympics in a country where we are known as Afrique du Sud (or similar). I am told that I didn’t miss much, other than us marching for a bit, led by Caster Semenya who, I’m told, was unfortunately made to carry a large, phallic pole.
But even more of a letdown than this was the Olympic Committee’s decision to follow the opening ceremony with several days of sport. Not just the ones people watch normally, but those other ones. The ones with people throwing long sticks and using sticks to launch themselves over poles and jumping over dirt and all sorts of things that take a level of training and skill to accomplish that far surpasses the enjoyment that spectators derive from watching them. There’s the one where people hit a strange object that isn’t even a ball around, called badminton. When it was discovered that some of the competitors in this sport were throwing their matches, all four badminton fans were shocked. It was a sad day for badminton, but then, every day is a sad day for badminton.
There’s even one called shot put, which involves large, scary men and even larger, scarier women throwing a big metal ball around. Good news for the ladies is that if these women are considered athletes, no matter how overweight you are, you can still say you have an ‘athletic figure’. And there are countless more bizarre fringe sports. It’s all good to include them, but where do you draw the line? How come these are allowed to be official sports, and other sports such as jukskei, roller derby or competitive tiddly winks are not? It’s unfair.
As a nation, we’re not having a bad time so far this year. We have a couple of gold medals, thanks to Van Der Burgh, who we adored for about ten minutes until Le Clos won a gold medal too, and also, until we worked out that his name is far easier to make puns out of (Le Clos the gap, Le Clos but no cigar, Clostraphobic, in Le Closet and so on). Banyana Banyana did pretty well too; it’s important to remember that a draw is a draw even when both sides aren’t necessarily trying to win. So maybe I should just get into the spirit of the event and try to enjoy it. But I must be honest and admit that I prefer my sport in moderation.
Next time I’m taking a leaf out of Julius Malema’s book and doing the Olympics the entertaining way. Staying in five-star hotels with my best friends, with the bill paid for by mysterious unnamed political allies. That way, I’m sure it’s possible to avoid the more tedious aspects of the Olympics altogether, like, for instance, the sport. DM
* I think I totally made that figure up.