London 2012 Opening Ceremony

I watched the Winter Olympics opening ceremony a few weeks ago. A typically brash and overblown celebration of the culture of the host nation. Obviously my thoughts now turn to what delights the London Olympics opening ceremony will deliver, and what aspects of British culture will be involved (cardigans? pot noodles? mild disappointment? out-of-town shopping centres?). Personally, I am fully supporting the campaign to see Morris Dancing included. I kind of like the idea of 14,000 choreographed morris dancers performing in perfect unison, in some kind of bastard mix of the Archers and totalitarian mass callisthenics.

I’d also like to suggest a new Olympic event. As most people know, the marathon is traditionally believed to have been based on the run made by Pheidippides from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to report the Greek victory over the Persian in 490BC. If we can base sporting events on Greek historical events, then I think we should be able to use British history as a source for unique races for the London Olympics. In 1600, Will Kemp, an actor and jester known for taking comic roles in some of Shakespeare’s plays, took 23 days to morris dance from London to Norwich. He later published a description of this event called the Nine Days Wonder. Thus, I’d like to suggest the 186km prance as a new event for London 2012 – the winner to be awarded a gilded pigs bladder.

Published by David Petts

Assc. Prof Archaeology, Durham University - landscapes - old music/books - folk traditions - early med Britain - community heritage - post-medieval - views own @davidpetts1

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