diamond geezer

 Monday, July 28, 2014

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the start of London 2012. To celebrate, a Great British Carnival was held in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Hundreds of colourful characters turned up, in a feathery calypso spectacle pitched somewhere between Notting Hill and Rio. Community groups dressed for the occasion, giant beasts paraded through the park, and the public turned out in droves to watch, to listen, and to sprawl on the lawns in the sunshine. It was, I'd say, everything those who drew up the Olympic legacy vision ten years earlier might have been hoping for. A brownfield zone transformed into attractive open space, a collection of buildings and infrastructure capable of supporting regional growth, and a location embraced by the local population and beyond for the purposes of recreation and enjoyment. Above all the place still manages to feel communal rather than commercial, which is quite something when just across the railway at Westfield is one of the most concentrated hubs of branded retail activity anywhere in London. That purity may not last, especially as the fringes of the QEOP are taken over by flats and offices and yet more flats, hemming in the parklands as a ribbon of green in a canyon of steel and glass. But in 2014, as in 2012, the Lower Lea Valley remains a recreational and redevelopmental success, and a place that can still draw in the crowds.

Yesterday was also two years since Danny Boyle's Opening Ceremony with its steampunk rings, its trampolining nurses and its parachuting Queen. Last year they repeated the whole thing on BBC3, and many of us tuned in to relive the unexpected feeling of pride and satisfaction that we experienced first time round. This year it's Glasgow's turn to showcase itself through sport, so BBC3 were obviously showing that instead and any hopes that a 2012 rerun might be an annual event were quietly put to bed. So I went round to a friend's to watch the Opening Ceremony again on DVD, and it was still unexpectedly great, even if we did fast forward through the athletes section a bit. And by the time I got home there was only time to write a paragraph and a half of platitudes, rather than an in-depth report on the carnival and all the changes wrought recently in the Park, but that's OK because I've written that kind of post umpteen times before so you know what to expect. You'll cope, I'm sure, and I'll be back to drone on about the place again. But blimey, two years, eh?

» Watch the whole Opening Ceremony again, why don't you?

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