9 Sep 2012

The End of London 2012 is Nigh

The last night of London 2012 is upon us – the end of the most amazing summer of sport many people have ever seen in this country. The closing ceremony of the Paralympics begins at 8.30pm and once again I will tell you what I can, having seen the rehearsal, but won’t spoil the surprise.

It is very different to any of the ceremonies before. It is directed by Kim Gavin, who did the closing of the Olympics too, who says bluntly there is no narrative. Unlike the Opening Ceremony there are no characters or dialogue, no classical references or scientific marvels. There is some ceremony – a couple of speeches, honouring of athletes and others involved in the games. But this is primarily a closing party.

The Festival of Flame will be the festival to end a summer of festivals. Don’t get too depressed but it is September, work and school has started again, and there is something very final about tonight’s spectacular. Coldplay will play – with some special guests you may have seen hinted at in the newspapers, but it will be a long way from Glastonbury. With performances going on around the performers. Again there will be hundreds of volunteer dancers including several disabled people specially trained in circus skills.

More than any of the other ceremonies there will be some high profile and emotional recognition of British forces injured in conflict. Stephen Daldry – the overall creative force behind all the ceremonies – has revealed a prominent role for the charity Help for Heroes. I won’t say more but it is visually very striking. And that will be it – until tomorrows Victory Parade for Team GB and ParalympicsGB combined which culminates in a special programme outside Buckingham Palace. And then that really will be it. Normal service resuming. But will we be a slightly changed country after this summer? I hope so. But that will take time to work out.