EYES ON LONDON: Bond, queen, Beatles: Games begin

Associated Press
The Olympic cauldron is lit during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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LONDON (AP) — Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:

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POST-CEREMONY SNAGS

The backup begins. It's smooth sailing for buses taking games lanes out of London's Olympic Park, but other lanes north of the park into the center city are already not moving.

Pretty night in london, though. Perfect temps, no rain.

— Sheila Norman-Culp — Twitter http://twitter.com/snormanculp

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THAT'S A WRAP

Thousands of spectators, athletes and officials are pouring out of Olympic Stadium and onto the plaza.

They have spent casings from the spectacular fireworks display crunching under their feet and "Hey Jude" humming on their lips.

Everyone will sleep well after a night they'll never forget.

The Orbit observation deck still glows red. This is just the beginning, after all.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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BACK AT THE BAR

As Paul McCartney sang "Hey Jude" at the end of the opening ceremony, an entire bar broke out in song with him. Locals waved the British flag as they swayed and sang "Na-Na-Na" along with McCartney.

Outside, the streets remained quiet and seemingly shuttered as a city sat glued to their television sets. Get a glimpse here: http://pic.twitter.com/2HUEpGWQ

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennafryer

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SINGALONG

The party spirit is evident all over the host city, miles from the stadium. In the Camden section of north London, people can be heard singing along ("Na, na na na ...") and whooping loudly to Paul McCartney's rendition of "Hey, Jude."

— Sylvia Hui — Twitter http://twitter.com/sylviahui

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FLAME ON

The Olympic flame in London is alight, with the fire ignited by seven up-and-coming British athletes running in formation in dark track suits.

As flashbulbs winked on and off across the stadium, the torch was brought in, its flame cutting through the darkness. In a symbolic act, the torch lit six other torches, and all seven young athletes approached the cauldron together to ignite it.

Just before it was the last leg of the torch's journey — the ultimate British torch relay: David Beckham to Sir Steve Redgrave, one of our most famous and admired Olympians. Nobody could say this lacked the star appeal that Britons craved.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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BECKHAM IN A BOAT

David Beckham on his way on the Thames, bringing the torch to the stadium, transported in a rigid inflatable boat. The river is this city's heart, the pulsating beat that transformed Britain from an island nation to a world power.

— Danica Kirka — http://twitter.com/danicakirka

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MUHAMMAD ALI

The man who famously floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee could barely move as he appeared during the late moments of the Olympics opening ceremony. Muhammad Ali stood, tentatively, and took in applause as his wife, Lonnie, supported him. She appeared to say "Wave, Muhammad, wave," as the cheers for him rose.

— Ted Anthony — Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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QUEEN: OLYMPICS BEGIN

"I declare open the games of London." — Queen Elizabeth II

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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ROGGE PLEA

IOC President Jacques Rogge: "Character counts far more than medals. Reject doping, respect your opponent — and remember that you're all role models. If you do that you would inspire a generation."

— Rob Harris — Twitter http://twitter.com/robharris

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OLYMPICS 'COMING HOME'

"In a sense, the Olympic Games are coming home tonight. This great sports-loving country is widely recognized as the birthplace of modern sport." — Jacques Rogge, president of International Olympic Committee.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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MESSAGE TO POSTERITY

Coe: "One day we will tell our children and our grandchildren that when our time came, we did it right."

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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INDELIBLE MARK

Sebastian Coe says athletes here have a chance to leave an "indelible mark upon history."

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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COE SPEAKS

"Welcome to the 2012 Olympic Games. Welcome from every one of us. I have never been so proud to be British and to be part of the Olympic movement as I am on this day at this moment. The Olympics brings together the people of the world in harmony and friendship and in peace to celebrate what is best about mankind." — Sebastian Coe, leader of London Olympic organizing committee.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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BRITISH LION ROARS

The British were not were not reserved — not the team, not the crowds — they went for it. I have never seen an explosion of British patriotism like that; it echoed around the stadium as the team went by. The noise was deafening. It was the roar of the British lion.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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USA CHEERS

The U.S. team got one of the biggest cheers of the night. There were a lot of them and the drummers were urging them on. I would say they looked resplendent in their Ralph Lauren. But, you know, the big show is about to come.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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WINDING DOWN

I think there might be such a thing as procession fatigue. I see fewer people dancing in the stands now, although they still seem to be taking photos like there's no tomorrow. We are seeing stage managers frantically gesturing for the teams to hurry around the track and drummers coming up behind them.

Perhaps another reason for the rush: London's Tube network is closing down in an hour or so.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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SPEED IT UP

As the time neared midnight, organizers in black pushed the athletes to get moving. They speeded up the music. But the athletes weren't having it. They wanted to dance, to wave at the cameras, to soak in their moment. Gaps emerged in the parade.

— Danica Kirka — http://twitter.com/danicakirka

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GOOD WEATHER

Danny Boyle could not have planned it better. We have had a little bit of rain, cloud, some haziness and now the wind is picking up. In other words it is the most typical and glorious of summer evenings.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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A MISSED CHANCE?

So many Olympics have been blighted by war and boycotts. Now the global context is economic depression and growing bitterness. I wonder: Have top heads of state missed a chance by largely staying away? There's a major feel-good factor here, the games are a metaphor for all that's good about globalization. A lost opportunity? Surely this is a better forum than rushed and overcrowded summits.

— Ian Phillips — Twitter http://twitter.com/phillipsian

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CAN MOM SEE ME?

The parade of athletes seems to be moving more quickly than usual, with the Olympians moving in step with drums.

It's a beautiful night, and everyone just seems to be floating on the cool air of the stadium — savoring their moment. They are waving and mugging for the camera — can mom see me at home? They are so glorious in their national costumes, matched to their flags, so proud.

— Danica Kirka — http://twitter.com/danicakirka

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WHICH ROUTE IN?

What is determining where they shepherd each delegation? Some come down middle, others walk long way around. It's some sort of pattern, but can't figure it out.

— Cassandra Vinograd — Twitter http://twitter.com/cassvinograd

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TORCH RUN

Getting it right on the night: Outside the stadium, British Olympian Steve Redgrave is doing a series of practice runs with the Olympic torch — and it's being handed to him by David Beckham. Everything's being filmed.

The torch lighting ceremony comes later.

—Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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A FLAG SURPRISE

The biggest surprise of the night: the French team waving Union Flags. Never in a million years did I think I would see that.

I think I might be changing my opinion on a few things tonight. Nations really are coming together.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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LOST VIBE?

The vibe in the stadium has.... ebbed. The crowd is pretty quiet, not even cheering that loudly. Seems like folks are tired and a touch bored of techno.

Some parents have been packing up and starting to take the kids home. Bedtime? Crowd participation also totally fell apart, it seems, during the extravaganza.

Also notable: no lines for the bathrooms. Seriously — never seen that before at a stadium.

— Cassandra Vinograd — Twitter http://twitter.com/cassvinograd

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GET ME OUTTA HERE

Eating in a nearly empty pizza shop in the middle of the opening ceremony, Edward Dee of Southwest London was over the Olympics.

"It's too expensive. There's too many people here. I want nothing to do with the Olympics."

So he's off to Holland then Budapest for the entire games. He'd have been gone already, but a train delay caused him to miss his train out of St. Pancras station and he was stuck in London until Saturday morning.

"I missed my train by two minutes. But I'll be gone first thing in the morning."

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennafryer

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WAIT IS OVER

The march of nations into the stadium right now couldn't fail to move anyone.

Some of the countries are getting bigger cheers than others — anywhere with a name including the word British in it gets a slightly bigger one, of course.

This is something that we have watched on TV as children and adults, but it feels different that it is happening right here, right now and in London. I think it really feels now like the wait is over.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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A CHANGE IN TONE

There has been a change in tone. The lights are up, and as the athletes make their way around the stadium, cameras are flashing on the blue background like twinkling stars.

The only thing that might not be sitting well with the Brits right now is the fact that everything is being said in French first. The French coming first in anything is not good as far as the English are concerned.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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IS THAT FRENCH?

Yes, French is the official Olympic language. And yes, of course it has a place in an Olympic opening ceremony.

Nevertheless, it's still kind of striking — at least, from the perspective of an American and the Brit sitting next to him — to hear the sounds of French ring out in the stadium of a one-time empire that was conquered by the French nearly 1,000 years ago.

(History lesson for context: William the Conqueror, a Norman, invaded England in 1066 and defeated King Harold, infusing many things French into England for hundreds of years to come.)

— Ted Anthony — Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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ABIDE WITH ME

For those wondering, that was "Abide by me" — a Christian hymn that was sung as the Titanic went down, according to survivors. It's also been the prelude to England's soccer FA Cup final for many years.

— Ian Phillips — Twitter http://twitter.com/phillipsian

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ON SPOILERS

The Olympics used to be able to get away with tape delaying events in far off time zones without anyone knowing what happened until they watched it at home.

Not anymore. Social media has taken that all away, making it harder and harder for people who prefer to watch the event on TV be surprised when they sit down on their couch hours after it actually happened.

After I tweeted a grainy picture of James Bond parachuting in, several of my followers back home in the States complained.

"SPOILERS!" (at)tomdar tweets. "We don't get it here for another three hours."

Sorry dude. This is the world that we live in.

—Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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ROCK AND RAP

Crikey, those flames were hot. The party has started. Did anyone ever think that Brits were reserved? We know how to rock and, as Dizzee Rascal is proving, we also know how to rap.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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HUMO(U)R ...

We are seeing a bit of the British self-deprecating humour here. A montage of things that we love, but also embarrassing things we have done in the past that we love to laugh about.

The famous denial by a BBC weatherman that there will not be a hurricane — that was a big one. And a reference to "The Archers," a quaint radio soap about the British countryside that people love but would never admit to it.

For the record: It is cracking.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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LENNON'S TAKE

Finally: The Beatles make an appearance in the story of Britain. Which begs the question: What would John Lennon think of all this? Would he love it or skewer it?

He'd probably manage to do both at once.

— Ted Anthony — Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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CLICHE — BUT OK

So far a lot of the British cliches have come out, but they have been subtle. The NHS, the worker, the British nanny and Mr. Bean. It is a reflection of all things British but it is also a way of telling the world what we gave them.

Of course, we wouldn't boast. But a little reminder now and again doesn't hurt.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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HER MAJESTY

The queen sure knows how to draw a crowd. As she allegedly parachuted down to Olympic Park, a mad rush of those outside the stadium ensued.

Observers sprinted to the area, hoping to catch a glimpse.

"It's the queen!"

Alas, "she" landed too far away to be seen by most outside the arena.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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BRITAIN'S NHS

In Britain, you'll often hear gripes about waiting lists, wards and distant dates for operations. But don't read too much into that. There's little the country cherishes more than its National Health Service — introduced as a free health care system after World War II. That tribute just now at the opening ceremony will have gone down very well in the UK.

— Ian Phillips — Twitter — http://twitter.com/phillipsian

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COMPRESSED STORYTELLING

Rarely in any forum but the Olympics is an entire country distilled in one performance. In short: You don't usually see medieval farmers, National Health Service nurses, James Bond and an evil "Harry Potter" character in one place. Plus: Molten metal and Mary Poppins. How do you choose from more than a millennium of history? What important stuff gets left out?

— Ted Anthony — Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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EDITOR'S NOTE — "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item, and get even more AP updates from the Games here: http://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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