London is the centre of the media universe this week with the extraordinarily British opening to the Olympic Games. I am an emotional chap and I don't mind telling you that I brimmed with pride and blubbed like a baby throughout the visual extravaganza. There were tears of delight at the Queen parachuting in with James Bond and tears of conviction at the most bizarre of sites -- multiple Mary Poppins flying into the arena to chase away the scary monsters from the sick children.
Yes Mary Poppins saved the day, not Harry Potter or James Bond.
I can say, with all integrity, that as a man more akin to chasing after role models of William Wallace or William Wilberfoce, that it was very strange to feel a connection to the character of Mary Poppins, but connect I did.
Oddly, just two weeks before the opening of the games I was taking a community development training course to look at how establishing a dream or vision is reliant on a multiplicity of people and passions. In one exercise we were given a hour and handed some magazines and newspapers. With scissors and glue we were to create a collage of images and words that best represented us and our work.
I simply could not escape this image I found of Mary Poppins, floating down with bag in one hand and flying umbrella in the other. I cut it out and stuck it on my page. The more I thought, the more I found myself really becoming quite caught up in the character of Mary Poppins, for instance:
How she arrived and intervened for the children's sake.
How the children asked for help.
How the fathers control cut up the letter, but she came anyway.
How she turned the world upside down for all concerned with her different approach to problems -- her spoonful of sugar and her supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
So you see, to watch a few dozen Mary Poppins drop into the Olympic arena like military special forces was actually quite moving and provocative, full of symbolism in the fight to protect children and intervene on their behalf. Is that okay? Has Mary Poppins got something to show us about Abolition?
While you think about it, I'm off to buy my umbrella.