Adam Lovejoy writes from London: I suppose the Queen was not exactly amused by the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games and her role in it. In case you’ve missed the great occasion, failing to be part of the one billion audience that was supposedly glued to the box that night – where do they get such figures? – Her Majesty dropped in on the Olympic Stadium by parachute, accompanied by James Bond actor Daniel Craig, to add to the excitement of the whole thing. She didn’t actually land in the stadium, obviously, and she didn’t actually jump herself, but the whole stunt was made to look like that in the tradition of British quirky comedy. All in the best possible taste, as they say.
Wide-eyed hacks fell over each other praising the opening ceremony that was the brainchild of that outstanding director, Danny Boyle, who has such films to his credit as Trainspotting and Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire. So expectations were high that he would produce something for the whole nation to enjoy and the world to marvel at.
Danny opted for a celebration of Britishness, as most hacks were pointing out in their hastily written reports the next day. This Britishness manifested itself by including some of the best loved talents that these islands have produced. Here are just some of the big names who were present: Rowan Atkinson, David Beckham, the group Arctic Monkeys, rappers Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah – come on, rap is quintessentially British – the Sex Pistols, Paul McCartney, J.K.Rowling, the Who and others. There was also a sort of a tribute to the National Health Service, with a twist of leftish politics, and the pill – very British, this form of contraception – mentioned as well.
Was there any mention of Britain having been a religious nation? Nope, there was none of that nonsense because it’s not considered British to be religious. But the Suffragette movement was mentioned, in case anyone had forgotten whence the liberated women of today emerged. And even though the role of Britain in two world wars – in case you don’t know this, Britain was among the victors – didn’t feature in the script, it contained some outstanding events like the 1936 Jarrow March against unemployment. Not to mention the big nod in the direction of the Beatles’ masterpiece album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with songs like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds that is still loved and cherished by generations of users of Class A drugs, with a group of men dressed as Sergeant Pepper making it a night to remember for all the people who still recall the Swinging Sixties. (It is still unclear who was actually swinging then but, nevertheless, it is considered to be very British to talk about the Swinging Sixties and roll your eyes, implying that it was very cool to be part of the scene.)
Sir Paul McCartney was there, as I have already mentioned and performed two songs, one being Hey Jude which is famous for its four minute ending that contains a meaningful repetition of the words: ‘Na-na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, Hey Jude!’ Sir Paul is not what he used to be but he’s still a British legend and has recently announced that he has quit smoking dope, so he was obviously a natural for the occasion.
Still, the fireworks were a pleasure to look at and it didn’t rain all night, apart from a bit of a drizzle. So in that sense it was sensational.
Now comes the boring part, the athletes competing and hoping that the substances they are on would not be detected. Yes, the wait has begun for the closing ceremony.