Olympic Stories

I have caught Olympic fever.

The spectacular opening ceremony. The sense of global unity, and of individual achievement. Competition and cooperation, and everybody coming together for something emotional and celebratory and good.

And, of course, the stories. Because, to me, the Olympics are all about stories. The young Japanese swimmer who no-one expected to qualify, who beat Michael Phelps for the bronze. Three female cyclists who broke away from the group and worked together to stay away, in order to guarantee their gold-silver-bronze. Athletes competing under the Olympic Flag because their countries do not have Olympic committees. Countries that have never won a single medal, finally breaking through and winning the gold. It's one of the few sporting events where male and female athletes are given equal footing and support. And it's the first ever games when every single country brought both male and female athletes.

So I was delighted to see Britain celebrate stories -- from history, from modern life, and from literature -- in the opening ceremony. And they were diverse stories. They were stories of women fighting for the vote, of immigrants, of workers unions, of real doctors and nurses and children and teenagers. The UK's most iconic female author (or author, period) read a passage from Peter Pan. Her own creation, Lord Voldemort, joined forces with Captain Hook, the Queen of Hearts, Cruella de Ville (creation of author Dodie Smith) and others, before being defeated by an army of Mary Poppins (creation of Pamela L. Travers). Whether a conscious effort or coincidence, it explicitly celebrated a rich and iconic literary history that was created by both men and women, and a history and culture that include and are driven by everyone, from famous political men to workers to immigrants to teenagers on Twitter.

The message was clear: the Olympics, and Britain, are for everyone. And I can't wait to see what stories will unfold in the coming two weeks.