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  1. Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

    Danny Boyle did an impossible thing on opening night.  He made us cynical Brits feel a quiet pride in being British after all.  It’s something we don’t like to admit to usually.

    But from the RAF fly-past to the moments when we were all saying, ‘But where is the cauldron for the flame?’…  the various layers of scenes he imagined for us did work that theatrical magic.  The idyllic Larkrise fields, the sheep, the gaggle of geese, the Maypole dancing on the village green, beside the new game of cricket all conspired to create that lovely illusion that back then , pastoral life was peachy….it wasn’t of course, for the poor.  But this is art folks!

    And the Pandemonium section, with its thousand bucket drummers stirring up a magnificent  thunderous din, ushered in the ‘dark satanic mills’ era, with Kenneth Brannagh on the hill, as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a stupendously Great British engineer, declaiming ‘Be not afear’d’ from The Tempest, more magic, and very apt for what was to follow.

    The rearing up of the gigantic chimney stacks into the night sky, the smelting of the iron running into the mould to make one of the Olympic rings was an incredibly powerful metaphor, as it was that Industrial Revolution which became the engine of the whole world, and made the modern world. (read Niall Ferguson’s Empire, How Britain made the modern world.’

    And from the ghastly horror of the lives of these toiling men, women and children who were paid pittances and made fortunes for many Victorian entrepreneurs, he took us right up to Timothy Berners-Lee, an English scientist, who gifted the world the World Wide Web, and there he was.  How influential are we then?

    To gather in Mr Bean and ‘Good evening Mr Bond,’ from the Queen, in a magnificent spoof film, Voldemor, the Dementors, and Mary Poppinses to chase them away which included the rich cannon of children’s literature, and Great Ormond Street Hospital’s staff and children having a ball of fun was little short of genius.  The NHS is  what makes Britiain unique....and only we can moan about it!

    All this and the use of new lighting effects in the audience, so they could be part of the happening instead of just watching. 

    How can a whole culture be encapsulated in three hours?  He did it, with humour, poking gentle fun at ourselves, and we liked it. 

    We have given so much to the world and continue to do so in music and drama as well science, we need to be pleased about that.  Empire and its trappings give us shame, but compare what we left and what we did to police the world in the nineteenth century , when we ‘ruled the waves’ to finally enforce the end of slavery across the seas, even to Brazil.  Our navy back then  took slaves back to Freetown   in West Africa having recued them from the slavers. 

    Give the man a knighthood!

 


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