Published on Saturday, 28 July 2012 06:36 Written by Ketlan Ossowski
'Queen Elizabeth. It's her first role. Ever!' Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/REUTERS
I'm not a great one for sporting events (as my decidely non-sporty physique proves) but I must confess to enjoying the opening ceremony to the London Olympics last night.
I watched it with my youngest daughter, who sadly, has turned out to be as cynical as me, and we both expected a couple of hours of pro-British tosh - after all, the ceremony was expected to celebrate London. What we saw though, was Danny Boyle's slightly subversive celebration of worldwide sporting prowess, the utterly wonderful NHS and multi-culturalism, as embodied in music, film and popular culture, largely meaning TV.
I've always had mixed feelings about events that promote nationalistic fervour. On the one hand, I'm perfectly happy to be British, while on the other, I loathe all the flag-waving and self-righteousness that sometimes goes with it. Last night's celebration was the type of event that should have made me feel faintly nauseous but instead, to my own surprise, left me with a smile on my face.
The inclusion of the Empire Windrush, the ship that arrived at Tilbury in June 1948, carrying 493 passengers from Jamaica wishing to start a new life in the United Kingdom, was a pleasant surprise, as was the image of such luminaries as Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, and Doreen Lawrence, mother of the late Stephen, sharing the role of presenting the Olympic flag alongside Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Naturally, other people have a different take on events. Nick Griffin, who pretends to love Britain but clearly detests it, had this to say;
'Re Olympics. Quite good idea to do history pageant & avoid trying to compete with Chinese choreography. Rowan Atkinson great. But then it went downhill. Cool Britannia? Tow it out & sink it.'
Have you ever encountered such a facile and miserable idiot in your life? Or perhaps he was still reeling with disappointment from the BNP's disastrous result in Thursday's election for the Springfields and Trent Vale ward on Stoke on Trent City Council, where the ailing party came in seventh with a laughable 27 votes.
Still, if the BNP didn't like the opening extravaganza, a lot of other people certainly did. The Washington Post reported;
'So, we're all watching this movie at Olympic Stadium in which James Bond (Daniel Craig) walks into the Royal Palace,' wrote Mike Wise. 'He's followed by two mutts and suddenly walks in to see, yes, Queen Elizabeth. It's her first role. Ever!'
The Post's verdict?
'It's corny, cheesy, altogether over the top. And it works!...This is awesome.'
Germany's conservative newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that London's hosting of the opening ceremony passed off with 'heart and humour...spectacular, but also thoughtful and touching'.
The Jarrow marchers, colliery bands, trades unionists and suffragettes. The Beatles, the Jam and, Gawd 'elp us, the Sex Pistols (though not singing 'God Save the Queen', which was a pity). A romance, Shakespeare, Harry Potter and Mary Poppins. Who would have thought they could all be rammed into one relatively short and enjoyable, exuberant and exhilerating evening?
One BNP supporter, not a noticably chirpy bunch, managed to ignore everything else so he could focus on the only thing that really interests those who support the racist BNP.
'Once I saw that white woman get out of that mini with a mixed race brat with a mohican, I'd had my fill.'
There's just no pleasing some people.