Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paralympic Opening Tandems

So yeah. The helmets.

There were people swinging from ropes, people swaying on ten-foot poles, people on roller-skates (who fell over in every single rehearsal!), soft squishy people all around us who were going to be seriously injured if we messed up, and people on frikkin’ fire spinning around a tiny high-up platform! But no, only the cyclists need helmets because OMFG BICYCLEZ!

We’re not sure why. We only found out that we definitely had to wear helmets during the final rehearsal. Until then, only two of the sixteen of us had felt the need during practices – unlike the skaters who wore full body armour and helmets for every rehearsal, but not during the show.

It certainly wasn’t for safety – the helmets were enormous, didn’t fit, and were wedged on with extra padding and hair to in an attempt to stop them slipping over our eyes. And as pointed out above, if it was a safety issue, there were people whose need was far greater than ours.

Someone said that perhaps it was because we had to “set an example”. Well, setting aside the people swinging from ropes and the person setting a cape on fire and spinning it around, we’re cycling full-tilt into a group of dancers and assuming they’ll just get out of our way. There are more pressing issues with the “example” the performance is setting, if that’s really what’s concerning you.

It certainly wasn’t for artistic reasons – the overworked, stressed, and generally wonderful costume department put a lot of effort into making us all look fantastic, and then at the last minute were told “make these helmets look a bit more subtle”. ‘Cos yeah, nothing says “ballroom elegance” like wearing an upturned bucket over one’s eyes. It wasn’t even the choice of the lovely Laura and Lizzie organising our set – the order came from On High (aka “Central Casting”) that “cyclists must wear helmets”, and so helmets had to be worn, even if they didn’t fit and were unsafe.

The only possible reason for making the cyclists wear helmets was to prevent media (if the Daily Mail and its siblings count as such) furore along the lines of “IRRESPONSIBLE CYCLISTS DON’T WEAR HELMETS AND KILL KITTENS”. And I can understand the organisers trying to pre-emptively stamp out negative publicity for the Paralympics, and appreciate that it’s a difficult job to do.

It’s just a real shame that you didn’t get to see us in the Dress Rehearsal without our helmets. We looked fabulous.

Anyway, helmets aside, it’s all been rather lovely, and a more full (and happy) blog will follow, once I’ve had some sleep and sorted through my photographs.

Addendum: Someone nicked Tim's helmet whilst it was briefly left unguarded backstage post-performance. The gits! We had planned SCIENCE involving an axe with it, and they have deprived us of one of our experiments.

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