London 2012: Four Years On

Today marks four years since the London 2012 Olympics opened in spectacular style with an Opening Ceremony that surpassed expectations and challenged the boundaries of what is possible in an live event. Thousands of people were involved in the evening, masterminded by Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce, and now is a fitting point to look back at the wonders we remember so well.

I vividly remember the countdown to the ceremony on screen, 60 diverse photos of numbers from across the capital, perhaps even the country. I was sat alongside some of my greatest friends during my favourite week of the year, Bredon, and were treated to the most amazing hour of shocks, surprises and stunning stagecraft. The opening segment ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ gives a sweeping overview of British history with impressive effects and a phenomenal scale of organisation with the numerous volunteers on stage.¬†‘Happy and Glorious’ is perhaps my favourite segment, showing the love we have for the royals and the willingness of the Queen to have a comedic part in the proceedings. The small touches, like a small look inside Buckingham Palace and the presence of Brazilian tourists, gave this section extra charm, even if it was pretty clear that the person jumping out of the plane wasn’t actually our monarch.

‘Second to the right, and straight on till morning’ was the last section I saw live and I was underwhelmed at first. However, on a second or third watch it certainly is spectacular, featuring staff and patients of Great Ormond Street Hospital and a stunning display of logos and pictures via lights on hospital beds. The combination with children’s literature and the appearance of J. K. Rowling makes this an even more magical and captivating part of the show, reflecting the transfer of stories into reality in the minds of children.

I missed out of Rowan Atkinson’s starring role in Chariots of Fire first time around, due to being in bed, but when I did see it there was a further sense of amazement and laughter as Atkinson wins the famous race from Chariots of Fire. As a music lover the ceremony really reflects the rich musical heritage that the UK has to offer and this permeates the rest of the ceremony, including the Parade of Nations. The later parts of the ceremony didn’t capture my attention or imagination as much as the first hour, but they are still just as well crafted, if a bit repetitive to watch when you reach the athletes entrances.

Four years on there’s a lot that has changed, both personally and on a national level. Four years ago I had just left secondary school with a broken relationship with my best friend and a pending operation date for spinal fusion. Now, I have plenty of friends (including the one whose friendship I’d lost for years ago), am almost four years post-spinal fusion and am starting my final year at university with many more blessings and far less anxiety than when the Olympics were in London. On a national scale, who could forget the recent Brexit, the changes in student loans and many other non-political differences that have appeared over such a short time. On that note, I’d like to leave you with this article from Buzzfeed about the hope seen from the London 2012 Opening Ceremony for today’s Britain. And now it’s time to look forward to the hope of success in this year’s Rio Olympics!

Within a week

This time last week I was in London, most likely staring up at the Shell building and having a surprisingly enjoyable conversation about the Internet of Things. One week on and I’m sat at a laptop, doing some admin and filing the notes I just made from the first chapter of Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska’s text¬†Women in Twentieth-Century Britain.

It’s strange going from non-stop work and work experience to unemployment in the space of a few days. By Tuesday I was going slightly stir crazy and tried to join the gym, yet failed due to an extortionate joining fee. I’ve come to the realisation that the only other people I’ve seen for any length of time all week are my parents, although last week I was in the same position, except with my work colleagues.

However, that is not to say I haven’t been keeping busy: deadline day for the Orbital is looming, the autumn term draws ever closer, and summer camp is in less than a month. Plus, there is always tidying and a need to simply rest (the latter of which is more prevalent that the former!)

In 200 words, I’ve said a lot whilst barely saying anything. Part of me wants to rewrite this, but the more dominant part is keeping it. Ultimately change is unsettling, and perhaps that has inspired the haphazard nature of this, but change doesn’t have to be damaging and often it can be the memories of the good times that push you into making the most of every new situation.

March 2015: Orbital board elections

In March 2015 I was privileged to be elected as Deputy Comment Editor for the Orbital, the official magazine of Royal Holloway’s Students’ Union. It was a decision I had been considering but, according to my blog from the time, was something I had talked myself out of by the time the election came around. However, the position was called for and nobody stood so I wrote a quick speech and when they called again I ran unopposed and was duly elected to the position for the 2015/16 academic year.

This is where the board politics come in. A couple of months later the Editor resigned, which was not unusual with her being the third editor in that academic year alone, and so the Deputy Editor stepped up to the position of Editor temporarily until a bi-election was held in September to confirm her position. Holly Pyne, who had been elected Comment Editor, was co-opted as Deputy Editor, which left me as Acting Comment Editor for the summer, during which we produced five mini issues for Welcome Week to give the new students a taste of the Orbital and what to expect in university life. I dealt with running the section on my own and I was praised for getting a large amount of articles in from my section members.

However, my position was not secure as I had effectively also been co-opted and was required to be officially elected to the role of Comment Editor in an election in October 2015. In doing this, I also forfeited my role as Deputy Comment Editor, which didn’t worry me at the time because of my proven ability in the position. I hadn’t counted on the fact that the newest members of the Orbital had the ambition and ability to match my year’s experience and I was outvoted for both the role of section editor and deputy, the latter position going to the member awarded Best Journalist the previous year.

The period after the election was not a good time for me, but I refused to walk away from the Orbital and set about writing as many articles as possible and show as much commitment as would have been required from a board member. From attending socials to submitting 4 articles a month, I was certainly not slacking in my involvement! Over six months later I can now say that losing the board position is one of the best things that could have happened to me: I won Best Journalist at Societies Ball and had I continued as section editor I would have been far more likely to run for Deputy Editor, meaning that I would not be able to have as much involvement with Insanity Radio.

The moral of the experience is don’t take anything for granted and don’t dwell on failed dreams – make new ones and have fun along the way! But don’t be afraid of the repercussions that come from things not going as you hope: it is completely fine to be angry and sad and never feel like you have to suppress your emotions to be strong or look good for other people. All I can promise you is that things will be okay in the end, and you should always remember that.

Let Them Hear on Insanity Radio 103.2FM

Yesterday saw the start of a new term and therefore a new schedule for Insanity Radio 103.2FM, the community radio station based at Royal Holloway, University of London. For the last two terms I have been presenting a weekly entertainment breakfast/afternoon show entitled Entertaining History, which I have really enjoyed and have been well supported with. However, recently my friend Tim and I both had the same idea for a radio show concept, which has excitingly just been accepted into the schedule on Thursdays 11am-12pm. This is a completely different show to Entertaining History – there are two of us presenting for a start and it is a specialist show.

What is our specialism? We are both from the local parish church in Egham, St John’s, and really wanted to share the wonderful music we hear in Christian circles and challenge the idea that Christians are boring and sing hymns in harmony all the time. Inevitably we will also talk a bit about the songs and the sentiments behind them and also involve local churches with guests to tell us about their lives as Christians. We are called Let Them Hear after a similar show on Leeds Student Radio (you can find their show on Facebook), who took the name from Matthew 11:15 ‘Whoever has ears, let them hear’ (NIV). We really want people to hear the wonderful music we are playing and know about the activities of Christian faith groups in the area so they can find their own opportunity to hear the gospel, or just enjoy the amazing game that we will be playing live on air!

You can hear our very first show on Thursday 28th April, 11am-12pm on Insanity Radio 103.2FM across North Surrey and South East Berkshire, and across the world online at http://www.insanityradio.com/listen. You can also keep up to date with what’s going on with the show at our Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/letthemhearinsanity.