The Great British traits of pessimism and self-deprecation could be heard grumbling as the final fireworks exploded in Beijing four years ago. Perhaps that negativity was justified, considering the world had just witnessed one of the most awe-inspiring, beautiful, and expensive ceremonies of all time. Surely there was no way that, despite our incredibly rich history, our diverse cultural heritage, and everything our little island represents, we could ever compete with such a show.
Well, at first it appeared the whole thing was going to be an embarrassing farce, with Frank Turner stood there on a mound with his acoustic guitar singing about rock and roll whilst peasants frolicked below in what can only be described as the Shire from Lord of the Rings. When we were awarded the games seven years ago the line used wasn’t ‘The 2012 Olympic Games will be hosted by…The Hobbits’, so why on earth we were representing ourselves in such a dated way?
Cynicism was rife, dread was all encompassing. Here we go, three hours of non-stop embarrassment and self-loathing, but now in front of the entire world. Let’s just get this whole thing over and done with, please.
But then, out of nowhere, Danny Boyle’s miraculously ingenious touch kicked in. It was the most intense, visual and epic history lesson you’ll ever be part of, showing off just how incredible these islands are. Isambard Kingdom Brunel stood there, surveying the success of the industrial revolution, was an awesome sight, whilst smoke billowed out of the enormous chimneys that had somehow been kept underneath the stadium.
The showcase of British music rightly so filled us with pride, highlighting just how ahead of the rest of the world we are when it comes to groundbreaking bands and artists. The tilt of the hat to inventor of the internet was heartwarmingly central, and Mr Bean goofing about was another sign of us not taking ourselves too seriously. How does Mr Bean translate across the world? I have no idea, but honestly who cares. We’d probably laugh at a Chinese dunce sticking chopsticks up his nose, so we can presume everyone laughed at Rowan Atkinson.
Daniel Craig in Buckingham Palace was surreal as much as it was brilliant, and the body double of the Queen parachuting into the stadium showed off our ever-lasting irreverent sense of humor.
Symbolically the choice to give the flame(s) to young and upcoming athletes was a sound idea, but the lack of a famous face caused a lack of impact. Are we ever going to see these young people again? What even are their names? I’ve certainly already forgot. David Beckham did play a part, as he was promised, although really all he did was drive a speedboat down the Thames. No mean feat, of course, but there surely could have been something more fitting for someone of his stature and importance. I’m not saying that him taking a free kick with the torch would be a particularly good idea, but…
And then there was the cauldron. A quite incredible concept that no one was capable of predicting. Its simplicity blowing the bombastic running man of Beijing out of the water. It was an undeniably beautiful as Brits up and down the Isles sat back in their armchairs and exclaimed ‘Bloody hell, we ain’t half bad y’know’ and Danny Boyle could stand proud, safe in the knowledge that he not only did an outrageously brilliant job, but that in no time at all he will soon be a Sir.