|(c) The Metro|
Spent last night watching film director Danny Boyle's interpretation of British History. He had a bit of hard task ahead of him after the Chinese opening ceremony in 2008, which was absolutely magnificent.
Being a cycle fan it was wonderful to see Bradley Wiggins, Britains first ever winner of the greatest cycle endurance race on the planet, The Tour de France, open the 2012 Olympiad.
I have to say though that after the first 10 minutes I nearly turned it off. We were presented with a gentle meander through the British Isles Green and Pleasant Lands and with the four nations presenting child choirs singing their 'national' songs. It was nice but it was hardly gripping as an opening segment to an Olympiad and it appeared to be sinking into a bit of a boring abyss. But, I stuck with it and was glad that I did. As it progressed, it got better, much better.
The Green and Pleasant lands were wrought away from us in a churning mass of industrial boots with smoking chimneys rising out of the ground and nodding donkeys rocking away, molten rivers of steel seared through the arena, marching through it all, Kenneth Brannagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel the architect of so many great engineering feats across the Kingdom of Great Britain. The sequence ended with one molten steel ring rising from the ground to join with and combine with others raised above the stadium ending in a great and spectacular shower of molten sparks forming the Olympic rings symbol: Absolutely visually stunning.
Then we had James Bond aka Daniel Craig collecting Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth the Second from Buckingham Palace and delivering her via helicopter to the stadium, where she apparently jumped out. Oh did I have some bad thoughts then, but I set them aside for the sake of Britishness. But later, as the camera's infrequently showed her unsmiling scowl and at one point picking at her finger nails in an act of total disdain at the proceedings being presented to her my Republican thoughts boiled to the surface, once again......
A celebration of the NHS a symbol of the British working class to provide free health care to the masses that is currently being dismantled and sold of by the Conservatives and LibDem coalition government - how they must have been squirming in their seats at that sequence. So many children participating another genius stroke, and a celebration of the world renowned Great Ormond Street Hospital and it's links to Peter Pan creator JM Barry who bequeathed royalties of that story to the hospital. Children reading books, monsters being chased of by Mary Poppins - it could only be and truly was Britishness at its best!
This was followed by a celebration of British music and TV although I noticed that of the brief segments shown, Bill Cosby and his Cosby show popped up too!
Scotland's very own Emeli Sande' took centre stage with a totally awsome rendition of Abide With Me to almost end the 'spectacle' and for me that would have been fitting but and not taking anything away from what had just gone on to celebrate Britain through the centuries for some unknown reason Mr Boyle went and spoilt an almost perfect evening by giving us the croaking McCartney. His voice was appalling , as it usually is to my mind. He is clearly a talented individual when it comes to composing and as part of one of The Biggest pop bands in history but come on people surely I can't be alone in thinking; McCartney + Singer = Nnnnoooooooooo.... Or did Mr Boyle book him in as the closer as a way to clear the arena? I couldn't help thinking, "Where the hell is the guy from Hyde Park, the one who pulled the plug on McCartney and prevented any more suffering, a couple of weeks ago.
But, enough, this is not about that appalling man, or even scowling Mrs Windsor, this was about London 2012 and their offering to a global audience. This was an introduction to British Sportsmen and Women who have achieved 'greatness'. Yes Greatness because even if they don't win a medal they are OLYMPIANS. They, and every other OLYMPIAN from every other corner of the globe, have trained and made many sacrifices for years, some of them very young who gave up a 'normal' existence to put everything in to being selected to represent the UNITED KINGDOM of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (are you listening Mr Salmond) Emeli Sande' and Chris Hoy, did you see how he proudly held that flag aloft, THE British Flag. No little strap and cup for him to put the flag pole into and carry on his hip. If that Union Jack had been 5 times the size, HOY would still have strutted into that stadium thrusting it meters above every other flag carrier, waving and smiling as he carried it aloft and never even noticed any discomfort from so doing.....
Was it better than Beijing, No
Was it better than Sydney, No
Was it a unique British offering that was worth taking up 3 hours of our time YES IT WAS
And did it make me Proud to be British YES IT DID
CONGRATULATIONS MR BOYLE, YOU DESERVE THEM.