Details of how the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony was nearly derailed by rioting cockneys , have finally emerged. “We were queuing up to get in when this mob of Pearly Kings and Queens descended on the Olympic Park and tried to storm the gates,” recalls thirty-two year old Euan Cakker, who was attending the ceremony with his wife and two children. “There were hundreds of them, all shouting ‘Cor, blimey guv’nor’ and ‘Luv a duck’ – it was quite terrifying, especially for the children.” Thankfully, the police arrived before things got out of hand. “At first it looked as if they were going to be able to contain the situation, but then the Pearly Kings and Queens squared off against the riot police and started doing that dance from Mary Poppins in front of their shields,” says the Guilford car salesman. “They were being incredibly aggressive and provocative, singing that bloody song and taunting the police with the fact they were too thick to spell ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’! That’s when the cops charged them and started beating them with their batons – there were pearly buttons flying everywhere!”
The cockney rebellion was the culmination of a dispute sparked by London Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to employ blackleg ‘mockneys’, imported from Essex, to add local ‘colour’ to the Olympic venue. “Tourists, East End, expect local characters – ‘cor blimey trousers’, ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’, apples and strife, trouble and pears, that sort of thing,” mumbled the wild haired, upper crust buffoon, defending his policies to the press in the aftermath of the disturbances. “Real cockneys, too expensive, not colourful enough. Criminal records, ugly bastards, not enough of them. No choice, had to go to Essex.” Critics of the scheme, which saw hordes of perma-tanned ‘mockneys’, sporting trilby hats, waistcoats and wide-lapelled suits, arrive at the Olympic park from Essex to man cockle and whelk stalls, serve up jellied eels and behave in an over-familiar ‘cheeky chappie’ manner toward visitors, have been quick to respond. “It’s bloody outrageous, importing these ‘mockneys’ flies in the face of all the promises that the London Olympics would create jobs for local people,” declares local Labour councillor Harry Belch. “Instead we get these wide boys from Basildon and Stevenage coming down here, taking our jobs and misrepresenting our culture to unsuspecting foreign tourists!” Moreover, the shortages of genuine local cockneys the Mayor cited were, critics have pointed out, the result of the forcible relocation of many former local residents to make way for the Olympic Park.
“The truth is that they didn’t want to expose foreign visitors to genuine working class Londoners, the products of social deprivation and poverty, so instead brought in these middle class wannabes from Essex,” opines Alf Hernia, one of the organisers of the cockney uprising. “Those social climbing, aspirational tossers, covered in bling and desperately trying to look affluent, are much more in keeping with the image of England this government wants to project to the world.” Hernia is particularly incensed at the way in which he considers the ‘mockney’ insurgents were misrepresenting traditional East End popular culture. “There was a real danger that overseas visitors were going to go away from these Olympics thinking that cockneys all speak with strangled vowels, like Russell Brand or Captain Jack Sparrow,” he explains. “They really had no idea – they were all acting like Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses ! That’s set in bloody South London, not the East End! That was why we had to stop them – we didn’t want the global perception of cockneys to be that of a bunch of dodgy geezers selling even dodgier gear out of suitcases and saying ‘Lovely Jubbly’, for God’s sake! Really, it was inevitable that it would all end in violence!”
Indeed, with the Pearly Kings and Queens turning out merely to have been a diversion, the violence continued inside the Olympic Park on the day of the opening ceremony, with hundreds more cockneys succeeding in climbing over the back wall and confronting the ‘mockneys’. “There were blazing whelk barrows littering the park, as gangs of cockneys ran around assaulting anyone they suspected of being a ‘mockney’ with jellied eels,” says Euan Cakker who, having escaped the Pearly King riot, now found himself and his family caught in the crossfire of the main conflagration. “The police were still outside, dealing with the other lot, so it was utter chaos inside the Park.” The conflict soon became even nastier, with the two sides engaging in traditional cockney dance off. “It was carnage – the cockneys went on the offensive with a chorus of ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’, jumping on tables and benches, flailing their legs around in some kind of primitive dance. There was no way the ‘mockneys’ could keep up – they were slaughtered,” Cakker recollects. “We had to cover the children’s ears as the cockneys followed up with ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ and ‘Any Old Iron’ – the remaining ‘mockneys’ didn’t stand a chance, they just didn’t know the inane lyrics!” The cockneys cemented their victory with a rhyming slang contest – their hapless opponents quickly resorting to gibberish.
With the ‘mockneys’ vanquished, the cockney mob quickly dissipated, leaving behind hundreds of shocked visitors. However, whilst peace once more reigned at the Olympic Park, the riot was still to have serious consequences, with the Games’ organisers being forced to make last-minute alterations to the opening ceremony. According to insiders, the original climax – a further celebration of cultural diversity and civil liberties – was cut. Originally, it has been claimed, it was to have used the medium of modern dance to re-enact a series of recent confrontations between protesters and authority in London, including the fatal attack on London newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson by a riot policeman. “Apparently it was also to feature a re-enactment of last year’s London riots, with dancers dressed as rioters and riot police squaring off against each other,” says Nick Thruster, whose cousin played a sheep in the broadcast ceremony. “There were going to be fire bombs thrown, followed by carefully choreographed police brutality, before the two factions threw down their iron bars, paving slabs, batons and riot shields, and joined forces!” The combined forces of the ‘rioters’ and ‘police’ would then have dragged London Mayor Boris Johnson from the VIP box and trapped him in a huge wicker penis in the middle of the stadium, Thruster claims. “The plan was that Sir Steve Redgrave would then use the Olympic torch to set the wicker penis alight, burning Johnson alive as a sacrifice to the Gods to ensure good weather for the Games,” he says. “Once he was well ablaze, the young Olympic hopefuls were to light their torches from him and ignite the Olympic cauldron.” However, in the wake of the earlier disturbances, it was felt that such a climax to the opening ceremony might have been considered to be in poor taste.