Frivolous Monsters

A Foreigner’s Guide to the Paralympic Closing Ceremony

The Olympic Opening Ceremony was like a free glass of wine on entry, the starter, and main course; the Olympic Closing Ceremony was like too much rich dessert to make you bilious and take you to the point of throwing up; The Paralympic Opening Ceremony like that wafer-thin mint too much to make you explode like an obese suicide bomber… And then there was another… Another Olympic Ceremony as the Paralympics closed: The FOURTH in a matter of weeks! Another four-hour extravaganza… The pain, the pain, when will it all end?

At least I knew this time that it’d take them a solid two hours to parade all the athletes, wheelchairs struggling over rough ground, around the stadium past dignitaries like in a North Korean missile parade and I only hoped that this would fit in a window for me to watch the new series of Dragon’s Den on the other channel. I’m that committed to this task.

I’ve already described the Olympic Closing Ceremony as a none-stop cannon of sh*t being fired at the audience to see what stuck. And yet the organiser of this admitted up-front that there was no narrative running through the ceremony, and that we shouldn’t look for too much meaning… So, basically then, it’s just a pile of random sh*t being flung at the audience to see what would stick.

And, after only five minutes, I think I needed a lie down after witnessing a veritable Steampunk nightmare.

OK, enough that’s a mobile mechanised Christmas tree!

From the narration I know that this is supposed to be our inner-demons riding wind-machine quad-bikes, but they seemed to turn proceedings into a farcical game of It’s A Knockout, or Total Wipeout: whichever takes your fancy, gusting white feathers at the guardians of the Paralympic symbol as they tried to make it across an assault course.

And then I swear I saw them bring on a burning Wicker Man, on a bicycle…And I’m all for equality in angry torch-bearing mobs, but being led by a guide-dog whilst on a Segway?We’ve got to stop doing theses ceremonies people, we’ve gotta stop doing them right now! I went to get my tea out of the oven when the Channel 4 commentator Krishnan Guru-Murthy was informing us that what we were seeing was a war veteran “climbing the flagpole of human endeavour” and I don’t know anymore… I don’t know if this is that’s supposed to be a metaphor or a real thing? Do we all, in life, have to climb the flagpole of human endeavour?They then brought Prince Edward, the useless prince, brought in on a 1930’s mobster’s car that looked like it had just stepped out of the Wacky Races. Still it’s nice to see they adapted it to make it wheelchair friendly.

A quick lap of flag bearers meant no parading of poor disabled people in foreign low-mobility wheelchairs, but still… I’m off to watch Dragon’s Den instead, because…


Meanwhile on the other channel:

The highlight of tonight’s episode of Dragon’s Den had to be the chip-shop owner who invented the celebration cannon which looked like a giant penis, or a vat of insecticide, and Mr. Chip claimed that at the climax of your celebrations it would launch fresh petals or confetti into the “atmosphere”.

The layers of the atmosphere.

Now, as we all know, the atmosphere goes up for sixty-two miles… But Mr. Chip’s device seemed to go off with the ferocious power of a hand-pump soap dispenser.


Meanwhile back with the Paralympics:

Now there are some things included in these ceremonies that we, the British, have grown to despise but acknowledge that they have international appeal and so we endured their appearances as they’re there for the a foreign audience: Mr Bean, David Beckham, The Spice Girls, any living Beatle, but of course the greatest of these is Coldplay.For those abroad that don’t know we’ve recently had a mass expose of the practices of the press and the underhand/illegal methods in which they pried in the private lives of people in the public eye. Chris Martin, of Coldplay, was one of the worst hit when he was interviewed on Radio 4’s Front Row and they hit him big time which made the national news and caused Martin to storm out of the interview.

For those unaware, in our list of media outlets, BBC Radio 4 is… well… about as proper and upstanding as a school newsletter so he could be forgiven for not seeing it coming… And the question? He was asked about the album’s daft title – Viva la Vida – and the inspiration for it! BAM! They got him good. And so the posh, spoilt, rich and mumbling singer flounced out of the king of interviews declaring himself “uncomfortable”.It has to be said that the arts programme Front Row does have form for turning over celebrities as when Mark Lawson interviewed Russell Crowe about his portrayal of Robin Hood and questioned their departure from established tradition with hints of Irish in his accent.Crowe grew so incensed at this slight on his prefect Nottingham accent, via Wellington, Sligo, and Dublin, that even though he stopped short of throwing a phone at Lawson (he’s been warned about that) he also flounced out of the interview declaring “You’ve got dead ears, mate!”

Oh to be sure, to be sure, Sheriff of Nottingham, mate!

And the rest, as they say, is history: The film went on to become the definitive tale about the Sherwood outlaw, became the biggest box-office film of the century, and won Crowe several Oscars for his acting… possibly, I don’t actually know anyone who ever went to see it. It and its wavering accents.

But back with the Closing Ceremony where, despite other artistes taking small roles, it’s now become a full-blow Coldplay concert which must’ve been bad news for those who bought tickets unaware they’d be trapped and forced to listen to droning bland music.

Meanwhile the others actors did the best they could where, as part of a depiction of winter, I’m guessing, some skating torchbearers took part in a game of human Ker-Plunk.

And then there seemed to some disagreement amongst the Jedi present.

Rubbish picture I know but those Jedi were leaping about all over the place.

And then after what seemed like an hour of Coldplay they brought on Rhianna on an indoor swing looking like Joan Collins from The Stud.

I was going to include the Joan Collins picture side by side… A little bit too much.

The Brazilian handover meant that the Rio 2016 presentation gave brief respite from Coldplay in the form of three dance-offs. If you don’t want to know the results then look away now.

The most notable of these was the second where it seemed to be the clown from Ashes to Ashes taking on the Spirit of Jazz from the Mighty Boosh.

We can only hope that the winner of this got a bye into the final. But what’s this? They didn’t so much as finish their presentation with a flourish, more with eight cannons launching confetti into the atmosphere…

Oh Mr. Chip no wonder you couldn’t get a patent, nor find investment from the Dragons.

And after that there was more Coldplay… A shower of shit coming at me through the TV screen.

Shit-Flinging Television available (£299.99) from Charlie Brooker’s catalogue Unnovations.

Shit, shit, and more shit.

Like sewage being piped into our living room through the TV. Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.

You know the last time we had the Olympics (1948) was due to the effects of a World War and, to be honest, after spending over a day of my life watching all the ceremonies to write these reviews I’d be quite happy if we waited until after the next one before we ever hosted one again…


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14 thoughts on “A Foreigner’s Guide to the Paralympic Closing Ceremony

  1. Hey, I nominated you for the liebster award. Keep up the work on your blog!

  2. It was very brave of you to sacrifice yourself in order to bring us reviews of all of the olympic ceremonies. Although, had we known that the word ‘entertainment’ was going to be running very hard in the opposite direction throughout, we would have begged you to reconsider.

    I think you now deserve a very long holiday far from any sort of sport, or sport-related entertainment. Or musical interpretations of anything. 😀

    • It was the having to watch every minute of each one, and re-watching them, and trawling the internet for the right pictures that went with my comments that was gruelling.

      The first one (Danny Boyle’s) was spectacular, and after that it was diminishing returns. The Paralympic Opening was probably the next best for spectacle followed by both the closing ceremonies. They must have been a mammoth effort on behalf of everybody involved though.

      With all that over, and the pageantry of the Queen’s Jubilee year seemingly done, then I think I can retire from British-staged national events…

  3. Do you think in Mr Chip’s mind his celebration cannon produced a result more like the last image?
    Thanks for an entertaining post.

  4. Amusing, but harsh. I was there and really enjoyed it. Daft, yes. But a great spectacle, heartfelt and a superb performance from Coldplay. Who can’t like “Paradise”?

    • Well I was hoping for “harsh, but fair” so I wasn’t too far off. And I did (despite what I may have inferred above) like the quirkiness and the spectacle of the Steampunk.

      I think for a TV audience the Paralympic Closing Ceremony was directed (?) a whole lot better than the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. I don’t know if Channel 4 was responsible for choosing which camera they zipped to but in the Opening they kept pulling out further and further (until they were filming from orbit) and showing us less of the action. I gather from comments that at all of them there was much more going on in the stadium than we were shown at home.

      Having watched each of them two or three times, for blog purposes, I much preferred the ones that were devoid of celebrity which is why I liked the closing ceremonies the least. Coldplay was on for a long time and if you’re not enamoured with Coldplay (personally for reasons mentioned above) it was a looong time.

      And being not clued up (obviously) I couldn’t even tell which song ‘Paradise’ was. Probably more my problem than yours. I am a social outcast. I’m glad you had a good time though, as I’m sure did everyone who was there.

      • Admire your dedication to the blog. I know how long these things can take when you start uploading photos, never mind watching the ceremonies two or three times. Think I might have turned against them all if I’d done that! Anyway, if you are interested, I do a few musical top tens and did a joint one on Coldplay with my son. The aforementioned Paradise is No6. Think by now it would be higher.

        (And thanks for the “like” on my sportsthoughts41 on the Olympics, by the way. For what it’s worth, no 45 covers the Paralympics closing ceremony.)

  5. Many thanks for saving me watching it (like all the others)… I wonder if the mechanical Christmas tree was another escapee from Doctor Who?

    • Ha! You’re welcome. I thought of making that link, but reckoned that there wouldn’t be a good picture to compare it to, as a still of a moving killer Christmas tree would just look like a normal Christmas tree. I just had a look now and I think I was right. The Paralympic tree just motored along though and disappointingly it didn’t whirr around whirlwind-style.

  6. Hi, I don’t understand why this hasn’t been linked to my emails. I thought you were ” resting ‘ and only saw it cos you liked my blog post. Need to join again.
    Anyway due to domestic circumstances I completely missed any of Olympics and paralysis so these reviews, from your unique perspective are probably better than the real thing. Obviously I’ve saved several days of my life,

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