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Archive for July 30th, 2012

At the Opening Ceremony

On Friday night, I was honoured to attend the 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. What an amazing show. I was glued to my seat from start to finish.

The representation of the Industrial Revolution was stunningly realistic – in a way that the TV broadcast couldn’t do justice. I thought it was great to showcase this part in history which changed Britain like no other period.

Other highlights included our very own Pearly Kings and Queens, the dance arrangement that formed the shape of the CND symbol (as a Mayor for Peace, this organisation is close to my heart), the brilliant dance section choreographed by British Bangladeshi Akram Khan and, for comic value, Her Majesty the Queen’s cameo appearance in a mini-Bond film, parachute-jumping into the ceremony with Daniel Craig.

I was also deeply moved by the section that highlighted the importance of our NHS. Those involved were not merely actors, but real-life nurses and patients from Great Ormond Street Hospital, renowned throughout the world as a centre for excellence in children’s medicine. I do believe that viewers throughout the world, particularly in those countries not lucky enough to have national healthcare provision free at the point of need, will have been able to see what high regard we Britons have for the NHS and the fabulous work they do. It’s particularly important at a time when the very foundations of the organisation are under threat from a Tory government intent on privatisation, run by politicians who clearly do not share the values upon which the NHS was built.

But now, over to you! Which bits of the ceremony were your favourities? Let me know on Twitter by tweeting @MayorLutfur.

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Olympic chimes

I was invited to ring the bells at Bow Church on the edge of the Olympic Park on Friday as part of the national carillon that rang out at 8:12am across the country to welcome the games. I would have been happy to – the seven centuries old Church has a serious history, and commemorates assorted martyrs from all eras.

Thirteen protestant martyrs were burned at the stake there in 1556 for fighting for freedom of conscience – and there is a plaque there to parishioner and Labour icon George Lansbury who helped pioneer our welfare state and who when he was a councillor in this borough went to gaol for his stand in support of suffragettes. He was also to become the leader of the Labour Party, and is still remembered here as ‘Good old George’.

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