2006 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony – An Intersecting Lines Eyewitness Report
The crowd sits in the stadium in darkness and in silence. The song of bongo drums, played repetitively and unskilfully, begins to swell, and we hear the dim report of five cent pieces being tossed into a wadded-up towel. Then, fireworks!
Suddenly, the orchestra pounces on us! The lights go up slightly, and we see something moving about above our heads. The classically-trained musicians playfully poke and prod us with their instrumental meanderings, and we see a new D1 Class Articulated Vehicle descending from the heavens in a shower of twenties and fifties.
The tram touches down softly and begins to trundle about the stadium for a while, incessantly dinging its annoying bell at pedestrians, who leap out of the way, screaming in terror. Only a few are struck. The tram eventually shudders to a halt, and seventy-three Yarra Trams ticket inspectors emerge, resplendent in their cheap blue uniforms.
They quickly surround a young Japanese woman, the tram’s only actual passenger. She has a little more English than the inspectors themselves, and protests her innocence over and over: “The machine wasn’t working! The machine wasn’t working! The machine wasn’t working!” Heedless to her cries, inspectors mercilessly rain blows down on her with their truncheons, and then write her a ticket. The orchestra makes a farting noise.
The crowd applauds. Raucous laughter is heard throughout the stadium, as every Melburnian identifies personally with the scene that has just transpired before them. Ray Martin’s head nods gravely, affording this initial gambit his seal of approval. Fireworks!
But what’s this? A boy on a skateboard, suspended by invisible wires, skateboarding in the sky! He spits on everything he sees and knocks over an old lady, similarly suspended, shattering her hip. He laughs and transforms into a pigeon, which settles on the ground and begins to peck at a McDonald’s french fry. A taxi, driven by a mad Arab, careens around the corner, splattering the boy-pigeon against the tarmac. Fireworks!
Fat men in dark suits and Akubra hats enter the arena. Will they dance for us? Perhaps sing some opera? Ray Martin’s head will not tell! One man steps forward from the group of fat men in dark suits and Akubra hats. He kneels down on the ground. What will happen?
The other men all take pistols from inside their jackets, and fire into the man. With each gunshot, cymbals clash! Again! Again! Again! Aha, it is a traditional
A barefooted Michael Leunig, dressed as a priest, now descends – sigh – from the heavens, clutching a duck. He lifts his hand, as though he is about to begin preaching to us. The stadium moans. The fat men in dark suits and Akubra hats enter the arena again. The cymbals clash once more! Bang! Bang! Bang! Leunig slumps over, twitching. The crowd bellows its approval. Ray Martin smiles, his teeth casting light on the entire arena, while his solid-state hairpiece absorbs it. Equilibrium is achieved.
Then, some other stuff happens! Nobody really pays it any attention. More things float around above us, while ballerinas and tapdancers scurry to and fro below. The orchestra plays the Qantas theme song. A giant papier-mache John Howard appears, but it falls over and catches alight on one of the seven million constantly exploding fireworks, before the giant papier-mache George W. Bush can approach it from behind and anally violate it.
The house goes silent and dark once more. A single shaft of light illuminates the unmistakable figure of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, dressed in a glittering dress. Accompanied by an entourage of “rapping grannies”, she launches into a heartbreaking rendition of ‘My Humps’,
A booming voice, possibly God, or Ray Martin, comes over the PA system.
“What’s brown and runny?” the voice asks the crowd. The crowd does not respond. A fine question! Mud? Poop? What is brown and runny?
“Cathy Freeman!” the voice announces. Cathy Freeman appears, the torch held aloft. Somebody remarks that she’s even more inescapable than Eddie McGuire. Cathy Freeman does something with the torch, and something else catches on fire. Fireworks go off!
All eyes turn to the