Danny Boyle, take a bow.
Personally I really enjoyed the multicultural rubbish. I know it’s difficult for a rabid Tory to embrace the fact that there is more than one shade of skin, belief, hairstyle, but the rest of us are pretty content with it.
It was great to see the slowly bloating power-brokers of this democracy of ours have to witness a ceremony peppered with gentle to blatant subversion. To get ‘God Save The Queen’ from the Sex Pistols referenced in the same show in which the Woman herself feigned a skydive was truly fantastic and spoke volumes for the old parasite. If she, and they, carry on like this then hellfire I might even let them carry on when the country is mine (in a limited comical Scandinavian mode of course).
I wasn’t too excited at the beginning when it all looked a bit Teletubbies and the livestock seemed bound to ruin everything. But the clambering factory towers, the founding of the Olympic ring, Kenneth Branagh proving that he can do more than be a pseudo-Swedish gloom-merchant, and them drummers thumping away throughout took the breath away.
I even liked that contemporary dance bit and that’s usually the moment when the wife stands in front of the telly in a protective manner and says ‘Put the mallet down, Derek, that flat-screen cost £599!’ (And I reply ‘If you’d have let us go to London last August I could’ve got one for free.’)
And of course that bit at the end, where Redgrave handed the torch on to seven young stars of the future to light that gorgeous Olympic pyre was right up there.
But to me the star of the show was Mr. Bean. I jest. The star of the show was the NHS. That’s right, world, we look after the poor and sick in this country – or at least that’s the principle – and most of us, by and large the ones who need it, are proud as punch with that. Rawnsley, Cameron, you tinker with it at your peril.
The only tedium was the athletes parading round, really. I know it’s an important part, but can’t they stick em all on golf-carts and whizz em round quicker? I tried to alleviate the tedium by playing ‘guess the next country’ only to be foiled by foolishly overlooking such great nation states as Kiribati and some ickle group of islets south of Madagascar.
The BBC commentary was full of insights though: New Zealand have won the most medals per capita; Czech athletes have a sense of humour; and Trevor Nelson knows less than fuck-all.
The Beeb’s coverage so far has been nothing short of wall-to-wall but there are cracks around the edges as ever. Why Gary Lineker has to sit there gurning away at us with the carbohydrate-laden crumbs of prawn-cocktail crinkle-cuts falling from his overpaid lips is beyond me. The lasses – Logan, Balding, Irvine, Barker – make Lineker look like some adopted child on a work experience course.
But the thing that really bugs me is that you get Sir Steve Redgrave asking rowers fatuous questions. Why? Surely if you’ve won five bloody gold medals you’ll already know the answer. It’d be like getting Eric Sykes to ask Russell Howard where he gets all his funny ideas from. (Here ‘funny’ is used in the lightest possible sense).
Whereas I watched Gabby Logan chatting to the campest couch in Olympic history last night as Ian Thorpe and Carl Lewis fielded her questions. And very engaging they were. Thorpe is a joy. All raised eyebrows and nudges and winks but a great deal of passion and knowledge too. Carl Lewis wore a check cap, as if to prove his American tourist credentials, but they were both so fired up by being there you couldn’t help but be swept up by it.
Indeed, such was the surge of love and national pride following Boyle’s (and thousands upon thousands of others) magnificent efforts, that we all felt certain that medals would flow like so many chocolate coins from a Christmas stocking. And they didn’t.
The fact that no one helped the British cyclists in the road race should be the source of a kind of back-handed pride. British cyclists are now held in the same sort of loathing as Manchester United, or the New York Yankees. It was an ABGB race.
And of course the Olympics isn’t really about us lot, as the the ludicrous number of empty seats will testify. Those of us who entered the super-expensive Olympic lotto only to find we couldn’t even get a pass for a bit of handball are grinding our teeth down to pulp every time another terrace appears on screen populated by the equivalent of the indigenous penguin population of the Isle of Man.
If you asked Danny Boyle he’d probably get the nursing staff of the NHS to bag the seats and I wouldn’t be opposed to that.
You could dwell too long on the opportunistic no-show corporate liggers that litter the Games (and have done since 1988), but the Olympics is about those people who take a bleeding age to do one lap of the track in the opening ceremony. Like the Korean archery lass who needed a nine to win gold and pinged it in. Or that 16-year-old Chinese lass who appeared to have borrowed an outboard motor for the last 50 metres of the 400 metres individual medley. Or our own Beth Tweddle bouncing around between the asymmetric bars like a graceful but agitated squirrel. Marvellous.
Two days in and it’s just splendid. Anything that makes me cheer Craig Bellamy is bordering on the miraculous.
And there’s one thing I’ve noticed that has made an ordinary mortal like meself feel inadequate it’s this: male gymnasts – you know, the incredibly muscled, superstrong blokes who don’t need two planks of wood and a box of nails to make themselves into a dangling crucifix shape – well, before they do the vault they run like right jessies. You just watch em.