Better qualified people have been commenting on the ceremony (my current favourite is the Sports Illustrated article), but I figured most of them won’t be able to use “kick ass” in the title. Clearly, this is exactly what the ceremony (and Danny Boyle) did, so it’s entirely appropriate to correct this and to write my personal response to the event. (Further reading: the Illuminations blog has a good selection of articles about the ceremony). In no particular order:
1) It made us proud to be British: many said that exact thing last night. But when I say it, I think it means more: because I am not British. Many of us came from somewhere else and made a home here, and this ceremony, like the best of Britain and, especially, the best of London, made sense of the fact that London is my home too.
2) It was unifying: I don’t mean united in feeling or pride (although it was that too). I refer to that unique moment when everyone was thinking the same thing: “It can’t be her, can it?”. Outside fiction, how often can you have half a billion people having the same thought at the same moment? The deliciousness of a film featuring James Bond and The Queen (the real Queen) is obvious, but it’s worth noting the Sun had printed the story back in April. But it printed on April Fool’s and nobody believed it. Pay attention because it’s unlikely I ‘ll say this about the Sun ever again: how brilliant is that?
3) It featured Mr Bean: James Bond is cool. Mr Bean has no other quality than being funny. He wins every time. Plus Rowan Atkinson is a babe. (I look forward to the day when someone comes to the blog because they searched for “Rowan Atkinson” and “babe”. Soul mates).
4) It featured the NHS: because the NHS kicks ass. End of.
5) It was personal: Not only was the ceremony a personal vision and not done by committee, but some of the best moments were very personal indeed and therefore universal: the wall of photographs of loved ones lost by those in the stadium was the simplest of ideas. Photographs of strangers, but strangers who were someone’s family. We all know what that means.
The last word belongs to Danny Boyle (from the opening ceremony programme):
“We hope, too, that through all the noise and excitement you’ll glimpse a single golden thread of purpose – the idea of Jerusalem – of the better world, of the world of real freedom and true equality, a world that can be built through the prosperity of industry, through the caring nation that built the welfare state, through the joyous energy of popular culture, through the dream of universal communication. A belief that we can build Jerusalem. And that it will be for everyone.”