The Opening Ceremony

So. Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony.

It was a Triumph. After the Chinese display of might, with all the artistic integrity of a Red-Square parade of missile launchers, we got a fun, irreverent pop-concert from the UK.

After the Royal Wedding and the Jubilee, the world knows this moist North Atlantic archipelago can do pomp and circumstance. What this extravaganza showed the world is that a lot of the rock n roll which defines western civilisation is British, as is much of the technological and industrial inventions which make the modern world as it is. Britain is not a stuffy old country, we’re fun. Come here and get pissed with us.

I could have done without the NHS love-in but that’s by the by. The people are proud of our hospitals being state-owned, despite the fact they lead the world only in hospital acquired infections. Most artists are pinkos. I can live with their eccentricities, if they show the world that Britain is more than Guardsmen outside palaces. So what DID the world make of it?

The Washington Post: As the Olympics opens, Britain rocks
The Australian: Games Begin in British Spirit
The BBC has rounded up some of the rest.

Then there was the symbolism of the copper leaves, each nation contributing a small part, coming together into a magnificent whole the sum of which is greater and brighter than the sum of its parts. The tiny nations like Tuvalu sending a couple of Athletes stand equal to the mighty Americans or Chinese teams. Nations who exist in a state of war may end up competing in a spirit of friendship.

The scourge of international war is receding. For all the corporate bullshit, the Olympic games are part of a process that’s bringing the world together to trade, compete and enjoy a diversity of cultures to the benefit of all. Britain has played a huge part in this process, even though we remain the most warlike nation on the planet.

Far from being a declining power, What the Olympic ceremony showed is a country at ease in its own skin, comfortable with a bit of self-mockery, happy to take risks. No other country would think to put its octogenarian head of state in a skit with James Bond, and have Mr. Bean ruin ‘Chariots of Fire’ for Sir Simon Rattle. Our soft power, from the BBC world service, and musicians to businessmen and scientists still matter on the world stage.

The final motif of Sir Steve Redgrave handing the torch to another generation of young Athletes, was well judged. Then Sir Paul McCartney got everyone participating – in a chorus of ‘Hey Jude’ Not a great chest-beating roar of a rising power but a celebration of the real Olympic spirit. Having lit the torch, everyone joined in, in Friendship, peace and competition.

5 replies
  1. banned
    banned says:

    As a country with a sclerotic civil service, corrupt politicians, waning military power and long gone Empire it reminds me of the Venetian Republic in its dotage, at least we can still put on a good show; in the case of Venice, Carnival.

  2. lost_nurse
    lost_nurse says:

    why weaken your case by making up a statistic on Hospital Acquired Infection?

    He couldn't resist it. I thought the NHS section was rather more of a tribute to GOSH, which would tie in nicely with the childrens' literature theme (JM Barrie would have approved). Of course, Boyle might have been making a point about Lansley's clusterfcuk reforms…

    even though we remain the most warlike nation on the planet

    What a strange thing to say. Other than that, spot on! An endearingly daft ceremony – by turns sublime & ridiculous. Even the fact that it baffled much of the world should be cause for national pride.

  3. Henry Crun
    Henry Crun says:

    Loved the fact that we even took the piss out of ourselves and HM participated in the Bond vignetter, and the Mr. Bean and the Royal Philharmonic – was that homage to Morecambe & Wise?

    Attended the games on Monday and despite what the moaning minnies have been saying, it was bloody marvellous. Transport to/from the park was efficient so perhaps Bob Crow has outlived his usefulness.


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