A full Stadium for the London 2012 Paralympics has had an opening ceremony uplifting in every possible way.
At its start and finish, athletes actually flew – visually beautiful and a poignant and magical release for those who so often live in an earthbound struggle with their bodies.
The single most breathtaking moment was a floor dance by a man with no legs – it was utterly exquisite, fluid, borrowing from breakdance, attuned to the floor and suddenly lifting into flight. Unforgettable.
The event opened with another transformation – Benjamin Britten’s quite wonderful setting of the National Anthem, slow, with complex harmonies, hauntingly sung by a 450 strong deaf choir, making a pretty banal anthem a thing of beauty.
Professor Stephen Hawking’s Big Bang theory became a theatrical reality, with constellations of lit umbrellas spinning away in the darkness from the initial explosion in a mysterious light show.
The parade of the athletes was a sea of grins, colour, mobile phone cameras, shining eyes and, above all things, admiration and inclusion.
Athletes on what looked like anchored vaulting poles soared and dropped, waving in the air like tall poppies in a breeze. This looked at once scary and SO desirable. You wanted to be on one. They were actually the eyelashes around a giant eye.
Royal Marine Joe Townsend, who lost both his legs treading on an IED on his first tour in Afghanistan, flew in at the end with the flame on a zip wire from the Orbit Tower outside the stadium.
It was then carried around the stadium and used to light the mobile cauldron that took all our breaths away at the Olympics a few weeks ago.
Yes, you could say that the show (entitled ‘Enlightenment’) was incoherent – with dollops of Shakespeare (Ian McKellan on overtime); punctuations from Stephen Hawking, floating apples to raise the ghost of Isaac Newton and books galore – massive page turners all of them – but none of that matters.
It looked magical, it lifted spirits, it liberated and in every part of it, it celebrated those who really do overcome.
Now for the games.