Last night I was one of the 27.9+ million television viewers watching, quite possibly, the most amazing opening ceremony for any Olympics ever. Danny Boyle, the master mind director behind it has made a negative nation proud – no mean feat for anyone.
We saw the models of the set, we all commented how it looked like Tellytubby land – but as everything moved, as everything evolved, as everything pulsed, we saw Great Britain. ‘An opening ceremony’, I remarked earlier this week and again last night, ‘shouldn’t make sense. It should be a combination of things to do with the host country and leave people scratching their heads.’ Well actually, maybe I was wrong. This told a story – not some flouncy made up story of a child on a star that leads them to some universe of stilt walkers with silk tails – but of a nation. Yes it may have left out the negative bits (quell surprise) but it also left out a lot of the great (it was long enough as it was!) Overall we saw the changes to a country that in term helped shape the world we live in.
As a show it was fantastic. Amazing music, great visuals, stunning use of lighting technology (all those lights on the seats – wow!) and some fantastic performances. No one can beat the Queen meeting James Bond – well apart from the actor who played the parachuting Queen that is. Even Paul McCartney not quite being in time with his click track couldn’t cast darkness over the proceedings.
And then the all important lighting of the Olympic flame. I’ve followed that flame online across the country. I cheered it when I went to see it come through Birmingham, and beamed with pride when I watched a friend’s Mum carry it. Steve Redgrave was the perfect choice. It was great when he went to meet Beckham on the boat to get it… but then perfect was improved. Having seven great Olympians nominate seven up and coming sportsmen and ladies was inspired (Rower Cameron MacRitchie, 19, Sailor Callum Airlie, 17, London 2012 Young Ambassador Jordan Duckitt, 18, Runner Desiree Henry, 16, Runner Katie Kirk, 18, Javelin thrower Aidan Reynolds, 18, Runner Adelle Tracey, 19). That is the legacy that these Olympics is about. So not only did us Brits get that bit right, we also had the best cauldron ever. Made of copper petals representing every nation taking part that once lit rose to create a flaming flower. Yes it looked a bit like a bonfire in the middle of the stadium but once it’s in its rightful place it’ll be a sight to behold.
Last night I tweeted how proud I was to be British and how it’s so easy to forget the great things that your home country have achieved. It’s like when tourists come to your city and ask what to do and you can’t give them an answer because you don’t explore where you live. You think you know it all, but you don’t. If anything this ceremony made me realise that I don’t know all that much about our history. I’m aware we haven’t had the best times, but at the same time we’re greater than we allow ourselves to think. Maybe that is why we are team GB – team GREAT Britain.