BUXTON Advertiser editor John Phillips says Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony got right to the heart of what it means to be British.
If there’s ever a medal struck for the opening ceremony of an Olympiad, Danny Boyle will get gold. Make that platinum.
Disney would have done it with a lump of sugar which melted in the mouth, but Danny left a lump in the throat by adding the gristle and bone to the story of what makes a great nation’s history.
He didn’t shy away from the dark satanic mills, the struggle of the Suffragettes, or the poppy which marks the sacrifice which bled Britain dry…
Pretty well every subject in our daredevil Majesty’s realm must have been left with a feeling of pride, even if there are thousands now in the American Mid-West who thinks the Queen really did jump out of the helicopter.
No nation has a story as compelling as Britain’s, and Boyle included the quirks, like maypole dancing, alongside the rivers of steel on which our country built the modern world.
And telling stories is part of our tradition, as he proved with dead giants like Shakespeare, Blake and J M Barrie - and a live one in JK Rowling. That’s one reason why English is the lingua franca of the world.
And talking of the lingo of the Franks, the official language of the Games, there’s nothing more satisfying to a true Brit than to hear our closest European friends lost for words in their own tongue for our achievements, for example when Sir Tim Berners-Lee was announced as “l’inventeur du worldwide web.” It’s what we invented schadenfreude for.
British pop and rock is the best in the world, and the anarchy it has brought to the UK was celebrated throughout, even including the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen – which, one suspects, even they might have said without sarcasm on the night.
That’s the point of being British: we’ve always been a work in progress. A Frenchman is defined as a lover of women, good food and literature; a Russian must be tough; an American a loser if he isn’t a success at at least one thing.
But a Brit is still typically British if he’s a James Bond or a Mr Bean, and Boyle presented both ends of the spectrum as fit for a Queen.
One commentator said no other nation would really understand the opening ceremony, but we wouldn’t care. And we never have cared.
But criticism of the choice of Paul McCartney to close the ceremony were misplaced. Thousands of Mid-Westerners who think Sir Macca died in the 1970s were no doubt amazed at the British technology that had brought him back from the dead…
And for a show which you didn’t want to end, Sir Paul’s Hey, Jude in the style of the Frog Chorus at least made you accept it was time to turn off…