Last night the UK welcomed the world into London for the Olympic Games 2012, the 30th modern Olympiad, the third time in the city and definitely a once in a lifetime gig.
First of all I’ll start by saying I’m not at all comfortable with the way sponsorship works in modern life and the Olympics seem to demonstrate the worst of the power these global brands have on these events that were set up with very different ideals in mind.
But sometimes you need to put to one side those concerns, or the political games played alongside and judge the moment.
I have to say that, for me, I’ve never been prouder to be a British citizen. Danny Boyle, Underworld and everyone involved in the opening ceremony produced a unique occasion that didn’t ask remission of others. It didn’t try to compete with China, it wasn’t trying to be too ‘razzmatazz’ — it was simply a truly creative, fun and enjoyable moment.
Was the ceremony worth the money? Yes — in advertising terms alone, penny per eyeball — it showed we can do great events in a world that reminds people how a little island does still contribute to the cultural blend of the world — and it also reminded the world how much we, at least as much as any other country, are a country populated and welcoming of people from throughout the world.
It was great to see a ‘little band’ from Yorkshire playing within that space, the Palace showing they’ve changed and know how to show a lighter touch, a blend of traditional Britishness morphing into the contemporary and some amazing event design.
No, I didn’t like it all, yes there are some issues both Britain and the world need to think long and hard about but — did we put on a good show and the right show? Boy, did we!none