Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Inspiration in August



How do people find their inspiration? Characters? Places? Images? Events?

I'm just home from London, where we were fortunate enough to be at the Olympic Stadium on Super Saturday. Now that's inspiration. We'd been looking forward to going since last summer and when we finally stepped off the train in Stratford, along with several tens of thousands of other people, the buzz was palpable. I dislike crowds, so the thought of getting to and from the Games had been depressing, but I needn't have worried. There were dozens of cheerful volunteers, all helpful, all friendly, all eager to keep us on the right path. There were even occasional crowd warm-up volunteers, perched atop tall chairs with megaphones, all doing a jolly good job of engaging us and making us laugh. Even the soldiers directing us through security looked and behaved as if they were actors in a Fringe show.

Everyone was cheerful. Everyone was happy to chat, tell you about what they'd seen, what their experiences were, how long you'd have to wait in this queue, where they'd come from, how lucky they'd been with tickets. Everyone was happy! And that was before the remarkable GB medals.

Inspiration? Of course. Provided in abundance by the athletes, who have worked not just for four years but for a good part of their lives to do themselves and all of us proud. Provided by the organisers, who have mounted an event on such a colossal scale it's barely conceivable. Provided by the incredible landscaping - the meadows of wild flowers were magnificent. Provided by the occasion itself, from silliness (those thrones Bradley Wiggins had to sit on outside Hampton Court?) to the sublime (who will ever forget the Olympic 'cauldron' rising up at the end of the opening ceremony, lit by seven young athletes of the future and with a flame for every participating country. I'd love to know who the inspiration behind that was.

We thought that experience would be impossible to follow. Not so. Our kind hosts took us to Glyndebourne on Monday. For those who haven't heard of Glyndebourne, it's a terribly English kind of institution, an opera house in rolling English countryside, where you dress in dinner suits and evening dresses and picnic on the lawn before listening to opera. I'm not really an opera fan, to be honest, but the invitation was irresistible. The lawns and gardens were sublime, the picnic perfect and the Ravel double bill was a delight.

For those of you who've read my blog posts before, you'll know I'm hot on visual images. These two Glyndebourne productions provided me such rich pickings I barely know where to start. Try two dozen shepherds and shepherdesses tumbling out of toile-de-jouy wallpaper (ripped off the wall by the nasty little boy who has destroyed their idyll). Or twenty trees taking a bow at the end. A teapot having extremely suggestive relations with a cup of tea (really). It goes on. And on.

I'm home now, and sated. Characters? Places? Images? Events? I've enough in my head to feast on for many months.

Oh - and by the way, what are the odds of three random strangers on one small picnic table all celebrating their birthday that day? My husband was one of them. And a crowd of red-caped, moustachioed, scarlet swim-hatted youngsters sang them all happy birthday.

16 comments:

  1. My daughter was there on the same day, Jenny, and she had similar tales to tell. The whole thing is so infectious, isn't it? And you're right, it's inspirational. (And, while I envy you and my daughter for being there, I get a vicarious pleasure from the fact that you were. What a night!)

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    1. It is infectious Bill. Glad your daughter had a great time too.

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  2. Great post,Jenny - inspiration,even by proxy, is always welcome!

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    1. Thanks Myra. Never has there been such a good time to be welded to the television!

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  3. Fantastic post, Jenny. Something to remember in one's twilight years - a long, long, way off of course! I can hear you now....I was there, the night GB won three golds....' And as for the coincidence of the three birthday people - there has to be a book in that! Inspiration indeed!

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  4. These Olympic games have been amazing and you were so lucky to be there on Saturday! I don't normally bother watching much, but there's definitely something special this time - really inspiring indeed!

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    1. I only applied for the one day, and got lucky. Wish we'd gone for more now - but mustn't be greedy!

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  5. Love it Jenny. Such an evocative post. Experiences like that are just crying out to be written - here and elsewhere.

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  6. I'm sure they will be. My heart is breaking right now for our valiant 10K swimmer, who lost out on a medal by a whisker. I can just about manage 10 lengths of the pool!

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  7. Jenny, you've captured the atmosphere and the thrill of the Olympics so beautifully. My daughter and family were there at the same time, and they've come home with similar reactions (not described as eloquently though). The BBC is doing a wonderful job conveying the excitement of the games, although it's not quite the same as being there. How fortunate we are to have this experience, even at second hand.

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    1. I'm going to get real withdrawal symptoms after tomorrow!

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  8. Jenny, I can only echo what others have already said about how well you have evoked the atmosphere of excitment you experienced at the Olympics - and Glyndbourne. How amazing about the shared birthdays!

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    1. I guess a lot of people chose a 'special' day to apply for tickets?

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  9. Jenny I am pleased you have captured the joy and happiness of the crowds and everyone around you. The wild flower meadows look lovely on TV and I am sure they are even better in reality and a little bit of country come to town.

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  10. The flowers were fantastic. I heard some people had been trampling through them - so sad. some people have no respect, either for nature's beauty or other people's efforts. Still, a fantastic effort by everyone. So privileged to have been able to go. Roll on Rio!

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