Like a lot of other people, I enjoyed the Olympic opening ceremony. Danny Boyle communicated a real sense of what it means to be a Brit without any element of misplaced nationalism or overweening pride. An Australian commentator described it as 'boastful self-depreciation' (great use of an oxymoron), which is pretty spot on. Rather than trying to compete with China's impressive display of autocratic imperial grandeur we stuck to what we're best at: a spot of Shakespeare, a big nod to the significance of the industrial revolution and some good tunes. It was great to celebrate children's literature, whilst reminding the Tory grandees that the NHS and the work of our nurses is something to cherish as well as to be proud of.
Overall It was a grand* cerebration of who we are and what matters to us
from social networking to the suffragettes. There was something really symbolic
about the forging of the Olympic ring. It reminded the world of Britain's
industrial heritage but went beyond it. It made me think of all the people who
labour long and hard, all over the world. It reminded me of the people working
at the Olympics, not only the army of volunteers, but those working bloody hard
to earn a crust in places like McDonalds, those
working in fast food outlets in almost every major town, city and airport
the world over. It reminded me of those who sweat a living making sports
clothes and trainers for athletes and 'hoodies' alike; the army of factory workers
who produce the clothes on almost everyone's backs. It was hats off
to labour, literature and popular culture and who the heck could
complain about that?
I read in Saturday's paper that Boyle himself invited Frank Turner to
sing 'I still Believe' prior to the ceremony. Great publicity for an
underrated singer songwriter, bringing him to a massive audience and allowing
Boyle to convey the sense of hope we may not always wear on our cynical sleeves
but which lies well protected in our collective heart. Someone posted it
on You Tube.(It was taken off later.)
*Usage note: 'grand' in the sense of Lancashire dialect for bloody good rather than to denote magnificence.