The impact of taking part in the incredible opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games on Friday 27 July has just about sunk in for Swindon performer Janine Cowie from Haydon End.
The extraordinary vision directed by Danny Boyle and involving thousands of choreographed volunteers has been almost universally acclaimed as a masterpiece and set the scene for the London games.
Starting with the rural idyll that once was Britain, the stadium portrayed as the green and pleasant land became the beating heart of the industrial revolution, with actor Kenneth Branagh taking the part of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the man who turned Swindon from a sleepy town on the hill to the powerhouse of the Great Western Railway. World Wars and present day oppression was included, as well as the National Health Service, the explosion of pop music the swinging 60s and the cultural mix that evolved out, as well as the invention of the world wide web by Tim Berners-Lee as his gift to the world were all included.
Janine, in the opening section of the show, was one of several hundred drummers dressed as peasants, right, drumming out the beat of industrial processes as the stadium was transformed from the countryside into a dark satanic urban setting.
Later on in the evening, after Britain’s story had been told, Janine was a marshall inside the stadium to ensure that all the athletes coming in for the formal part of the event knew where to stand. It was not without incident she said. "The waterwheel from the rural landscape at the beginning was still in position but had fairy lights on it as decoration. Some naughty Australians started trying to climb it and I had to be a bit firm with them so they wouldn’t get hurt.
"it really was an amazing time for all the performers but when you’re part of something huge you only get a small picture of what’s going on. The noise of the drums and the crowd who were screaming with amazement, and all the athletes from different countries, it was hard to take it all in. From the number of Facebook comments and Tweet I received, I think people watching on TV found it quite hard to take it all in too.
"The backstage atmosphere was phenomenal, really exciting because everything seemed to be going amazingly well. Danny Boyle and the production team were total genius. I’ve made so many new friends who I share a unique experience with.
"We all want to thank the Bumpkin Pub in Westfield Stratford for opening for us into the early hours after the show finished so that we could watch a recording and see what everybody was tweeting us about. Eventually I got home at 3pm, shattered"
The next day the performers returned to the performers preparation area and the stadium to take away souvenirs from the show. All received a certificate signed by Danny Boyle to say they had take part and a programme for the opening ceremony. Some people went away with rolls of artificial grass but the performers were able to keep their costumes including shoes, and Janine took home her drum with harness and sticks.
She added: ‘My boyfriend has also created a scrapbook of photos for me which I can add to and my mum has given me a disc with all the photos and video she took at the dress rehearsal a few days before the opening."
Unusually Janine has been selected to be involved in the closing ceremony in the Olympic Stadium on 12 August where where she will again be an athletes marshall. Rehearsals, under the creative direction of Kim Gavin who designed Take That’s last two world tours, start this week.