For more than two weeks we had Olympic fever. The whole of the BBC seemed to have been given over to this international event. For the first time EVER, every contest was available to view on the BBC by the use of the “red button.”
So what did it mean to me? Well, as a non-sporty person who is also a writer, it meant no Eastenders on certain nights, no Casualty and endless bloody sport. Sport on the news; sport on every radio programme; sport in the newspapers; oh, and some idiot politician slagging off Danny Boyle’s “leftie” opening ceremony.
Don’t get me wrong, while I am no sports enthusiast, I was actually all in favour of the Olympics. I didn’t resent the cancelling or rescheduling of Casualty, or Eastenders like I do when football takes over (I think I’m the only Scouse male who dislikes football). I was sad at the thought that we (the Brits, that is) were going to have a disastrous 2012; I was over the moon when Lizzie Armitstead won the first medal for Britain; I was proud that we dominated the cycle track; and I was jumping for joy over our successes on the water.
However, nothing made me more proud to be British than the opening ceremony. Danny Boyle’s vision showed the world the things we should be proud of. We led the way in industrialisation (not necessarily a good thing but the civilized world wouldn’t be so well off without it); we introduced a Factories Act; we established trades union; we invented a national health service; and our music is second to none!
Too bad Adrian Burley, an idiot right-winger MP from the Midlands, had to spoil it with his twitter comment – “Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap.” He preceded this ridiculous tweet with “The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?” I had to respond. “I tweeted back something like – Why not? It’s something we can be proud of. There certainly won’t be a tribute to Afghanistan, Iraq or Falklands. I wanted to be abusive but that just wouldn’t be British, would it. So glad Cameron distanced himself from this folly.
While the opening ceremony was spectacular and our team’s performance was nothing short of brilliant, the closing ceremony was not a patch on the opening. It was marketed as a symphony of the best of British music. I thought some of the choices were a little strange but, hey, there was a lot of Scouse (that’s liverpudlian to you non-Brits) references in there, even down to the newspaper taxies.
Yes, this year’s Olympics has made me feel proud to be British again. Proud that we are shaking off that colonial image and the shadow of the slave trade. Proud to be human, even.
But what really made me more proud of this year’s Olympics than anything else? The fact that this was the first ever Olympics where every team had a female athlete. Too bad I only heard one comment about this fact from one of the commentators.