|Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins start's the opening ceremony|
Before I go on I must confess that i thought that firstly Paris should have won the bid for these games. When London won the bid in July 2005, i thought that the opening ceremony would be a horribly anglocentric affair. City gents with bowler hats and other symbols of Englishness would be at the fore. Even the pre-ceremony blurb sounded like John Major’s “Cricket on the green… warm beer… spinsters on cycles” speech brought to life. We were wrong.
Boyle’s vision was astonishing, and somehow managed to be British without very much of a hint of Anglocentricity. The Pandemonium section had so much going on, that a second look is probably obligatory. The voguing “corks” (mill owners) were rather surreal, while I'm still trying to work out where the chimney’s came from. The part with the suffragettes looked similar in style to Paisley’s own “Sma Shot” day, and was one of the many pokes in the eye to our current government. A theme picked up on by the Tory MP Aiden Burnley.
The most “offensive” part for Mr Burnley (and one suspects to the visiting US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney – considering his opposition to “Obama-care”) was the open love letter to the NHS and to Great Ormond Street Hospital – both touted as great British achievements in the teeth of continued opposition. Burnley’s rant on the twittersphere came after the appearance of the SS Windrush, dubbing the ceremony “multi-cultural crap” and “the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen”. This morning he seemed to dig himself into a deeper hole by completely marginalising the biggest selling musical genre in the past decade. Rap and R&B stars have created the biggest selling records of the past 10 years, our “Grime” stars are making the kind of waves in America that many Brit pop bands failed to do, while American R&B records increasingly sound like British dance records from the mid 90’s. Why wouldn’t that be celebrated by the guy who worked with Leftfield (on the soundtrack of “Shallow Grave”) and picked Underworld & New Order (among others) for the soundtrack for “Trainspotting”. Jeez, Danny Boyle even made Mr Bean funny for one night.
Taken as a whole, it wasn’t some sort of lefty paradise, but rather cleverly picked the good things that make us British, it was great to watch one of these things and get the small cultural references, which I think only the French were sniffy towards. The “Bond with the Queen” skit was unexpected and good (even if Brenda spoiled it afterwards by failing to crack a smile during the rest of the ceremony), while I commented on Bean earlier. The only duff notes were struck by McCartney and maybe the Arctic Monkey’s – both were slightly out of kilter with the rest of the ceremony.
For a resolutely small p political ceremony, maybe the most interesting thing to say was that it was probably a much better advert for the Union than anything “Better Together” will throw at us over the next two years, and portrayed a cool version of Britishness that the SNP will fail to rebut.