The Opening Ceremony: So I fell for it, too

At the risk of sounding like a knee-jerk liberal NHS-loving bandwagon-jumping nice person, I will admit that I, too, loved the Olympic Opening Ceremony. It was tops. Well, most of it was. Unfortunately I’d nipped to the loo during the James Bond/Queen bit (but am not quite self-obsessed/paranoid enough to think the whole thing’s a joke being played on me alone). And I wasn’t sure about the grime bit; it struck me as a little bit “middle-aged dad pretending he’s still got his finger on the pulse” (not that I am down with the kids, but I am sufficiently consciousness of my non-down-ness not to even try). But anyhow, the rest of it was good. And it was very, very silly, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the main thing.

I think of silliness – a particularly warm, kind form of silliness – as a very British thing. That’s probably inaccurate (I know, for instance, that the Germans are silly, too – although the pink/blue gender stereotyping of athletes took it a little too far). But I suppose what I mean is that it’s what I’d want to think Britain is like: a country full of silly, warm, kind people, who seem like Mr Bean but are secretly way more competent. I’d definitely prefer that to a country of mean, judgmental, selfish tossers like Aidan Burley, who looks like he should at least be slick but is actually a total fuckwit (although his tweet claiming that a procession of athletes from all over the world would mark an end to “multicultural crap” was, I thought, really funny; perhaps he’s far cleverer than we’re giving him credit).

Personally, I don’t think the ceremony was anything like a £27m advert for the Labour party. A £27m advert for the Labour party would have been crap and gaffe-filled, and we’d have grasped, just about, the overall “nice” message but it would have been overlaid with lots of nasty edges just to make sure we didn’t think they’d gone soft. And then Polly Toynbee would be writing about it right this minute, telling us that yes, it was a bit useless, but we still needed to cheer on the £27m Labour Party ceremony, because what alternative did we have? Nuffink, that’s what. But this ceremony wasn’t anything like that.

I loved it because it just made you feel happy about people. You watched it and you thought “people! People, people, people! They’ve done stuff! They support nice things like the NHS! They do happy silly dances! They can still be arsed!” And that’s gotta be a lovely thing. It’s precisely the sort of lovely thing that makes you wonder what we’re doing – as a country full of lovely people – being led by the worst, nastiest, meanest individuals you could ever root out of the Bullingdon Club. What are we thinking? All of us – the ace ones – giving in to this? It’s just totally bizarre. They just don’t deserve us.

It’s just a performance, but still, perhaps the Olympic Opening Ceremony will give people back some self-esteem. A prompt to shake ourselves out of the belief that we need a government like this, and that we can’t do any better. Louise Mensch – with her crazy tweets about David Cameron protecting the NHS – is sounding rattled already. Ha. Good. Perhaps it is surprising for politicians to come into contact with how much people think and care.

Well, I probably won’t post on the Olympics again. Because I’m shit at sport myself and not particularly interested in it, unless there are heartwarming tales of triumph over adversity (and I suppose there may be some of those, perhaps). But anyhow, unless potty training is made an Olympic sport and watching it seems likely to inspire Youngest, we’ll be spending the whole two weeks watching Star Wars and Alice in Wonderland. Unless, of course, any of the “independents” seem likely to win a medal. When I grow up, and if things don’t change here, I definitely want to come from where they’re coming from.


3 thoughts on “The Opening Ceremony: So I fell for it, too

  1. Me too. After years of hating what this country is becoming, I found myself carried away on a wave of patriotic fervour – only Britain would have produced something as brilliantly bonkers as last night’s show. Getting the queen to do a silly turn and giving the government a slap in the face and celebrating our culture from Shakespeare to Dizzy Rascal! Oops, I think I just got carried away again. Nice post.

  2. I thought much along the same lines: “this is bonkers. Boyle is a brilliant bloody bonkers genius!” – after 8 years living in America, they would *never* have gone for anything like that. It would have been glory and tears and banners and probably fine to watch, but it would not have been silly and charming and energetic and creative and hopeful in that particular way. And I was surprised and delighted to love it!

  3. Hurrah! Agree totally. What struck me was the cheerfulness, pride in our achievements and sheer fun of it, in sharp contrast to the right-wing whiners who queued up to trash it. We all know Tories aren’t nice, but who knew they could also be so joyless?

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