Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago this evening we all saw something which, for me at least, put it beyond all doubt that the potential for awesomeness in life is infinite. We saw something so cool, so epic, that I still get a thrill from thinking about it to this day; something which would have been seen as unthinkable before it actually happened. Ten years ago this evening, James Bond 007 was shown to escort Queen Elizabeth the Second in a helicopter to Stratford in order for her to open the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was an absolutely breathtaking cultural moment, and no doubt most of us remember where we were when we first saw it. A bit like September 11, then, that moment can be seen as a type of temporal anchor: a demarkation point in time with a discernible ‘before’ and ‘after’.

To be honest though, thinking about that evening I can’t help feeling very mixed emotions. So much has happened since then, I won’t even try to summarise it. I vividly remember watching the 2012 opening ceremony, lying on the blue sofa in the living room of Lyn’s bungalow in Charlton. When the short film involving the Queen and Bond started, I suddenly sat up straight, as if I could sense something incredible was about to happen. I then remember my mouth gaping open in amazement and awe as one of cinema’s greatest characters was shown to fly with the reigning monarch across the city, climaxing with a union jack emblazoned parachute jump nobody could ever have expected. It struck me as incredible, and I became instantly obsessed.

Yet now, of course, that old two seat sofa, which I once spent so much time lying on, is no longer there. Lyn isn’t there, and that life in that happy little bungalow has ended. That’s why my memories of that night fill me with such mixed emotions. Add to that the fact that Lyn herself participated in the Paralympic closing ceremony – something absurdly incredible in itself – and you see why my emotions are so conflicted today; my memories so bittersweet.

This evening London celebrates the tenth anniversary of an event the likes of which I doubt it will see again in my lifetime. In 2012 London performed before the entire world and showed the world how awesome it is. To have been living here in London that year was a privilege of a lifetime. In one sense it seems like just yesterday, yet in another it seems an age ago, so much has happened, so much has changed since then. The person I was watching the ceremony with that evening is no longer here, tinging my memories with a sorrow I doubt I’ll ever get over.

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