‘The centre of the world’ is a media hyperbole used too frequently to describe something that people from around the world are perceived to be focussed on. But last night’s breathtaking Olympic Opening Ceremony really was just that: a spectacle beheld by an estimated 4.8 billion people (meaning more individual eyes watched than the sum of all populations of all nations). And, taking place just over four miles virtually due north of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (Greenwich Park the Equestrian and Pentathlon venue for the Games), there’s no denying that, last night, E20 2ST really was the centre of the world.
When I first found out that Norden Lights, the organisation which provides drama classes at Norden Farm, had been allocated a one-hour slot on the main stage for this year’s Maidenhead Carnival, I couldn’t wait to find out how artistic director Dave Farey was going to organise over 100 children into one performance.
I’m sat on the bank of the River Avon in Warwickshire, on a glorious June afternoon. There’s the sounds of oars splashing in the water, children laughing, and a man ordering an ice-cream. Surrounding me are a large number of families and groups of friends, mostly sat on car-rugs enjoying picnics. A dog has just run past me, chasing his master on a bicycle. What’s wonderful is the vibrancy; so many people enjoying themselves and making the most of the weather. I am, of course, in Stratford: a town that owes so much to one of its former residents. It’s a fantastically English town and its high street still maintains several Tudor (and even more mock-Tudor) houses. Yet amid the old, the marvellously new: the stunning, newly-rebuilt Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It took four years to gut and rebuild both the Royal Shakespeare and the Swan theatres – at a cost of £122 million – but at last, the work is complete.