I caught up with the Olympics opening ceremony on BBC iPlayer, and I'm glad I did. I loved it, particularly the first part with Brunel, the section with the nurses and children, and the wonderful olympic symbol coming together out of the factory forge.
When it was actually being broadcast though, I was attending a real-life storytelling session on Hampstead Heath. I've written about the heath before. It is several square miles of historic countryside which has been preserved in Northwest London, with forest, fields and many strange and interesting relics and curiosities to be spotted. I don't know what this building is, but my niece used to call it the Witch's Cottage - look at that zigzag path winding away....
Anyway, a group of us gathered at Hampstead Heath railway station in mid evening, and we set off through the woodland.
It was dark but there were some shafts of late sunshine, and it was so pretty.
We walked for ten or fifteen minutes and finally reached a remote grove of trees where we settled down in a group with rugs and thermos flasks and sandwiches
As the twilight deepened, we listened to people tell stories of transformations in their lives.
The first speaker told of how a chance encounter with a long-ago family tragedy gave him a new perspective on his father. The second told of how her work as a medium helped her cope with the truly horrific and gory death of her mother when she was only nine years old.
A third speaker told of her extraordinary Christian mystical experiences and encounters with God, but her ultimate disillusionment with her church's harsh social attitudes.
Speaker number four spoke about a teenage fit of temper, which injured herself and another person. It showed her that she must take control of her emotions if she was to be the person she wanted to be. The fifth speaker spoke of her destructive anorexia and body hatred, and how she learned to see herself differently and be glad of who she was.
Some of the stories were painful to hear, some were rambling and some were thought provoking. But everyone listened with great interest.
It was brave of the speakers to reveal themselves and their inner secrets like that. I spoke to a couple of them afterwards and they were shattered. I hope they found it helpful too. I don't think I could have done it. Could you?
I was with my friends CC and AD, who are respectively a teacher and a computer game developer. We had a lot to talk about as we went back through the lonely night time Heath. Some of the time we had to use flashlights to see the path, but there are a few old streetlights here and there - a touch of "Lion Witch and Wardrobe" even though it wasn't snowing.
AD and CC were most interested in the story about Christianity. I learned that CC follows the teachings of the Indian guru Meher Baba and AD is searching for a religion, but he once saw a mystical golden glow and radiance around Benjamin Creme when he was making a film about religions. Although he has thought about it a lot, he does not know what to believe.