So I’ve been a little (very? extremely? shamefully?) neglectful of this blog recently. Partly because I started to feel like I had nothing much to say, and who was I to say it on the internet anyway, but that’s probably - and ironically - a whole other blog post in itself.
But the main reason I’ve been remiss in updating the blog - and remiss at work, and of girlfriendly duties - is because of this:
Sometime late last year I answered a call for open auditions for the Olympic Opening Ceremony. It was one of those “why not” moments that have got me into trouble before (Take a taetwondo class, despite no martial arts experience? Yeah, I’ll give it a go. Run a marathon? Hell, what’s the worse that can happen. Jump out of a plane? Hand me the parachute!), and off I trundled to a neglected corner of East London (Bromley-By-Bow, to be exact) to show of my limited dancing skills, X Factor style. Unfortunately, after two rounds of audtions, I wasn’t successful for the Olympic ceremonies, but was asked to come back to try my hand at the Paralympic ceremony auditions, and this time I was chuffed to find out that me and my friend were both going to have the chance to perform in the stadium as part of the Paralympic ceremony on the 29th August.
Rehearsals started back in June, and have been an increasingly significant part of my social life ever since. As hard and frustrating as it was at times, especially when we seemed to be learning the same steps in slow motion over and over again, the thought of the applause at the end kept pulling me back and putting on my bib. Narcississtic? Moi?
There were times I wondered why I was doing this, as the routine was changed daily the weekend before the performance - with the final addition coming just hours before we were due to go on - and sighed heavily as I peered glumly into my paper bag dinner to spy yet another packet of pringles and bread-heavy sandwiches (I thought I’d seen the last of Nature Valley Granola bars, only to realise they are the snack of choice for Gamesmakers too). But if it wasn’t hard going at times, the rewards wouldn’t be worth anything.
Empowerment was the title of our section, and as we were the last group to perform, we got incredibly good at waiting patiently around for our turn. And by waiting patiently that I mean we got incredibly good at running around backstage taking stupid pictures, sneaking into the stadium when we weren’t meant to to have a look at what was going on, and stalking Flawless.
Waiting in the entrance (Vom 5, as we got to know it) to go on was a mixture of nerves and excitement. It didn’t quite hit us when the section before us went in. Nor did it sink in when we were told to lift our tents in preparation. But then the music changed, and the previous section came to an end - that was the moment we started swearing. A bit like the moment when you’re on a roller coaster and the ascent to the top starts slowing and you realise you’re about to go full speed on a vertical drop, with no control over what happens at the other side… That’s how those few seconds felt.
Am getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
There’s so much more to say about this, but I could be here for days. The highlights are almost too many to mention - and I think some of them will still be giving me shivers in years to come. Here are just a few more memories:
- Saying “Hi” to Ian Mckellan as he walked through the backstage corridors - and then immediately
- Running on through the audience of Paralympians, chaotically waving glowing red tents and grinning and shouting like a loon as we realise this is our last chance to do this.
- The moment when Helen - giving us cues on the radio as we perform - said, “just take it all in”, and I broke my concentration face mode to look around in wonder at the thousands of people in the audience, cheering us on
- Finding my friend Nat backstage just before we went on for the final song, so I got to share this special time with one of my closest and dearest friends
- Singing, screaming, crying and signing along to “I Am What I Am”, with all my fellow cast members, and the audience too…