Tuesday, 5 August 2014

And if I should become a stranger...

It's hard to know where to start with this blog - the past 2 weeks have been spectacular in ways I can't even begin to describe and, in a way, there's no point in me even trying.  If you were there, then you'll understand and if you weren't then I'll never be able to get across just what we all went through and how it's changed all of our lives in many different ways.
Ready for rehearsal!

I wistfully thought I'd be able to blog most days but rehearsals became so completely time consuming and exhausting that I was lucky if I was awake enough to catch the 11:23am train from Ayr to Glasgow - sightseeing became a distant memory as the closing ceremony bubble enveloped us all.  That said we did manage one late evening at Pacific Quay enjoying the action on the big screen and a couple of live shows as I sampled the odd single malt or two...

So very true.
Rehearsals were 50% about learning the moves and 50% about making new friends.  For all of us our comfort zones became a distant memory as we learned move after move and the realisation of what we were about to do gradually dawned.  I'll watch all opening and closing ceremonies with different eyes now - instead of the spectacle I'll see the individuals that make it up - folks just like all of us doing the very best they can while silently praying the camera doesn't pick them out if (when!) they make a wrong move or forget a step.  What started as a slightly drunken idea when the application pinged into my inbox was now fast becoming a reality.

The weather didn't always play ball but getting soaked while wearing ponchos and prancing around to Kylie tunes worked wonders for team spirit and there were very few grumpy faces to be seen.  To be honest I'm amazed there isn't more video footage taken from the many houses surrounding the rehearsal grounds, we must have looked quite a sight - especially on dress rehearsal day with folks in hot pants and daisy garlands giving it their all while the rain lashed down around them.
Singing & dancing in the rain!

The 3rd of August arrived in the blink of an eye and although I tried to make time to enjoy every second of the day and take in everything around me, it was as if someone had hit the fast forward button and before I knew it we were linking arms and singing Auld Lang Syne with 40,000 others as fireworks went off high above us.  There were a few things that really stayed in my mind though:

  • The biblical downpour about 30 minutes before we were due to leave the rehearsal venue
  • Listening to Kylie's sound check and hearing her try to learn the words to Auld Lang Syne (and then hearing someone tell her not to worry too much as noone else really knew all the words anyway!)
  • Seeing Deacon Blue backstage
  • Watching all the Scottish flags wave and being deafened by the roar when the games were described as being "Pure dead brilliant"
  • Randomly grabbing athletes for photos - I was worried at first that they wouldn't want to be bothered but then they started photobombing our pics so...
  • Being on the stage for the Gold Coast "Sea of Flags" section
  • Not knowing who to hug first when it was all over
The end of the adventure
Many of us are now firm friends and, thanks to social media, we can keep in touch and continue to share adventures and new experiences.  I've enjoyed reading how this particular adventure has inspired people in different ways, some have joined drama groups, others are going to more auditions and a few have even signed up for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 (best start saving guys!) :-)  

I must admit I don't feel the urge to do this all over again, much as I've enjoyed it, you know me - I always want to try something different so who knows what I'll end up doing next.  What it has inspired us to do is to go back and explore more of the west coast of Scotland - we have 2 weeks hols lined up in September and were thinking of going somewhere hot and sunny but have now decided to head north of the border again instead (not that I'm suggesting it won't be hot and sunny there or anything...) .  I've got a real urge to explore Islay and Steve hasn't quite figured out why yet - let's just keep telling him it's for the scenery...

Clyde and friends - late home from rehearsals again

New friends, good memories

Dress rehearsal perks!

A spot of sightseeing around Culzean

Bye bye Bellahouston!

Hello Hampden!

View from the Maldives flag on the field

Ready to go on for Sea of Flags

Team photo being photobombed by athletes.

And tents - shimmy!

Austin Powers moment anyone..?

Don't look down!

Did I miss the Mexican Wave?

From my upcoming book "How to pose awkwardly for photos"

Have no idea who they are - but they're English and have medals! 

I absolutely love my home in Cumbria, but this adventure has meant I've left a small part of my heart in Scotland and this song will always take me back there.  I may even become "intoxicated by the scenery" on Islay and treat Steve to a rousing rendition...