As one era draws to a close, the same era begins all over again
Ian Martin includes Dame Zaha in his opening ceremony
MONDAY. Mixed emotions at the last ever meeting of the Olympic Rebadging Task Force. Sadness, yes – the attendance allowance has been pretty generous for the past six years. But also pride. Our task force has met all the targets we set for ourselves, and that means a lot to us. Specifically, sizeable farewell bonuses.
There’s tremendous esprit de corps as chair Suzi Towel leads us first in prayer, then in secular reflection, then a Mexican wave. As we have done since time immemorial (2006) we all shout ‘yay!’ at every mention of the Olympics (yay!).
Alas, in London you’re never more than six feet away from a rat-faced blogging cynic. There’s been a lot of negative backwash lately about the narrative integrity of the opening ceremony for the Olympics (yay!) and very hurtful that negative backwash has been, too.
Our main task today is to rebadge the opening ceremony so that it ‘holds together in the comment sections of the media’. There’s a short pause while we all think about this for a bit. Then Canella Bagshawe from the Department for Culture Media and Sport has her first genuinely inspired idea in six years: ‘We should take a few days over this. No point in rushing, and they’re obliged to pay us however long it takes, right? We are talking about the Olympics…’ Yay!
Suzi shushes everybody while she checks with Games HQ. Her face is grave but her thumb is up.
TUESDAY. Task force swansong, continued. Agreed we should make more of Dame Zaha being at the opening ceremony. Architectural Olympics. Yay!
Like all internationally renowned designers who have built their reputations in this country, Dame Zaha is virtually unknown here. She is, after all, an architect. In the honours table she’s up there with Judi Dench and Helen Mirren; in terms of popular recognition and celebrity she’s on a par with a Preston lollipop lady. But Zaha’s a key figure in the epic spatiality of the Olympics – yay! – and it seems a shame to waste the opportunity, so we decide to ask her to wear a massive hat. Will that be enough? We adjourn for lunch.
In the afternoon, we decide she should wear a massive hat and carry a jewel-encrusted staff. And be accompanied by baby dragons.
WEDNESDAY. We’re on to the opening ceremony itself. None of us can really work out why it’s not ‘playing well’ in the media. Danny Boyle’s crack team of imagineers and dreamweavers have been working on this for ages. At the moment it goes:
Act One: We’re in some long golden summer of antiquity. The stadium is carpeted in astro-sward. Rustic extras in agricultural blouses loll about, sharing an organic ploughman’s lunch and texting one another. Playlist: Purcell, medley of chillout dance anthems.
Act Two: A thunderstorm. Lightning. Belching mills appear. The sward is obliterated by pop-up ash heaps and cobbles. A steam engine appears, spreading chaos. Martin Amis is in the cab, smoking roll-ups and drawling jokes about anal sex through his CND megaphone, ruining everything. Playlist: martial brass-band classics.
Act Three: The calm after the storm. Bits of the old industrial landscape are now treasured ruins. The sun is filtered through strange atmospheric muslin. In the middle, a Lake of Anxiety – everyone in it together but not enough lifeboats. Flashes of the huge, world-beating creative potential for which Britain has been potentially famous forever: haute couture, a sensory garden, a DJ wearing one headphone ‘on the decks’, football-shaped football fans, a surviving Beatle, a parade of games developers, flag-waving civil partners. Playlist: Chariots of Fire, Cockney rappers, a naked Women’s Institute choir led by Gareth Malone singing Walking On Sunshine.
THURSDAY. Still brainstorming. We’ve put up a notice saying: DO NOT DISTURB, WE ARE RE-IMAGINING THE OLYMPICS (YAY!) and have ordered in some boutique fish and chips.
FRIDAY. Breakthrough! Swap Acts One and Three and we’ve got a proper happy ending. A bucolic future. Nobody over-thinking things, life just one eternal pastel-coloured picnic, like Jehovah’s Witnesses have in their literature.
It’s getting pretty emotional now. A Mexican wave and suddenly we’re all singing Jerusalem and tearing up a bit.
SATURDAY. Any other business: invoicing. Hugs and fistbumps all round. Goodbye, Olympic Rebadging Task Force. Suzi’s already plotting a Eurovision resort on the south coast.
SUNDAY. Closing ceremony in the recliner.