Tuesday, 31 July 2012

London 2012 Cultural Olympiad - (and my small part in it.)

 So we've now seen the Opening Ceremony of 2012 Olympics
 and heard some differing views on it;
 not least from M.P. Aidan Burley, who rubbished it, 
and Prime Minister David Cameron, who championed it.

I realise I have become impossibly low-brow 
as my favourite bits came from, 
(and I have my 4 yr. old great grand son's complete agreement), 
 Mr. Bean,
and Dizzee Rascal.

 Not even Kenneth Branagh
 as Isambard Kingdom Brunel declaiming Shakespeare topped them for me I'm afraid.

Still, I digress.
I promised to let you know how my part in the Cultural Olympiad played out,
 as I took part in the Godiva Awakes Carnival here in Coventry.

On Saturday I was a spectator, as the magnificent Godiva Drummers got us all in the party mood.
(Click on the video link below to hear them.  At 5 mins rather long but listen to enough to catch the mood perhaps?)

They led us to hear the Book of Intent, 
 compiled by youngsters from all over the Midlands,
 being read, and then danced out most powerfully,
 by youth dancers, 
some of whom danced in their electric wheelchairs.

This book contains the observations,
 and aspirations of the young people, 
along with their pledges to try and fulfill their own aspirations.
It was full of piercing poetic insight, which I found humbling.
And almost all the while the sun shone!

That night Godiva Awoke,
to a spectacular show staged in University Square,
 which lies in front of the ruins of the old Cathedral, 
 and the steps to the new Cathedral,
which rose out of the war time ashes.
It is a symbolic place of hope for Coventry,
and a place where the real Godiva could have trod 
back in the 11th century.
In this brief look at the end of The Awakening,
 (which you can see if you click on the link below),
Godiva is walking to collect the Book of Intent
 which she then took into the old Cathedral ruins for a time of contemplation.

My own small (almost invisible) part in all this began
 on Sunday morning
when I joined the team from the Belgrade Theatre at 10.45.a.m.
Our ages ranged between 8 and 82 years old, with me at 71,
towards the more mature end shall we say.

From then on we joined hundreds of others
 in lines for costume, makeup,
 general instruction, rallying points, etc.

Here are a few of us, already costumed
 and waiting outside one of the changing stations.

Our team is in there somewhere. I wonder can you guess where?

We did a lot of queueing, (very British),
 and stood in side streets with sound trucks pounding out bone-vibrating music,
(and I mean that literally),
until 1.20p.m.
 when we at last joined the procession of dancers
and began to strut our stuff,
 each carrying a 8.5'/2.59mtres long banner.

The hard part 'til then had been not giving in 
to the rhythm all around us
 and dancing ourselves out beforehand,

The down side of being in the carnival is that you see only the performers around you,
This guy, seen in rehearsals was just in front of us.
 so I am relying on friends and family to provide more photos of the spectacular costumes to slot in here later,
 but you can see a very few by clicking on this BBC video link below.

Our place was in the "Freedom" section of the parade,
 and behind and in front of us 
were ornate costumes portraying this in
gorgeously coloured golds, reds, and yellows.
Designed by the top Jamaican designer of carnival costume 
at the cost of an average thousand pounds each,
you might suppose not all of us were so wondrously attired,
 and you would be right.
Yes, that's me in mid picture, next to my friend Jan,
 both of us resplendent in what I will refer to as "coffee" tees ,
with three stripes of coffee and gold on each cheek.

Though we may have envisioned a different "freedom" colour,
 for us it was just being there that was the colour of freedom.

We had such a ball, and danced around the inner city
 for just over 2 hours.
It really did feel like one enormous party.

Then, like all parties it was over,
and Godiva left us for London,

 taking with her The Book of Intent,
which will be presented at parliament.
On her way she will stop at various towns,
 and her presence at each,
 will again be the signal for community celebration and ceremony.

Dear readers, 
I know this has been a longer than usual blog,
but for us here in Coventry,
the Godiva spirit lives on.

 Though our emblematic marionette has gone for now,
her dedication to courage, freedom, and justice,
remains very much part of the on-going life of the city
through the Cathedral's Peace and Reconciliation Centre,
and our modern day Godiva,
Godiva is a focus and rallying point for the many 
diverse cultures and faiths of the city,
and an enabler for us to look beyond what is different,
and to celebrate, reinforce, and liberate
 the rich human potentiality in our midst,
here and the world over.

I am so proud and happy 
to have had the priviledge of being 
very small part in this particular
Cultural Olympiad event.

Be Blessed

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