Olympic closing ceremony: Cynicism's comeback gig

For the last fortnight, the nation has been uncharacteristically enthusiastic and, well, nice. But the Olympic closing ceremony saw us getting back to our snarky selves...

There's a constant hum in Britain. It reverberates in every football stadium, it punctuates every delay announcement at every train station. It underlines the weary air of the school staff room or the outside smoking areas of pubs. It's the ticking tock of cynicism.

Culturally and democratically we're often the better for it – it's the stuff that fuels everything from The Queen is Dead to great investigative journalism – but during the last two weeks that hum has been silent. And it has felt pretty wonderful.

So how long could this glow last?

As someone who bought two London 2012 T-shirts and resembled a Tiny Tears doll every time that shot of Gemma Gibbons mouthing "thank you, Mum" flashed on the TV screen, I lasted about an hour. It was nice while it lasted.

Given the logistics of transforming the Olympic Stadium into a concert arena just hours after the exploits of Mo Farah, it was always going to be near impossible for Kim Gavin and his team to top Danny Boyle's opener. But having Russell Brand sing "I Am the Walrus" through a megaphone was an alarmingly good motif for several moments of head-in-hands incredulity.

It wasn't that the likes of Kate Bush, Pink Floyd and David Bowie weren't there in person, it was the tease (the Bowie montage and the opening chords of "Wish You Were Here") that made you think they were going to turn up, only for Naomi Campbell and the Ed Sheeran Session Players to appear. The repeated songs couldn't be helped due to the overrun of the athletes' arrival, but did we really need more from serial jamboree-botherer Annie Lennox or Emeli Sande, the only player besides William Shakespeare and The Beatles to feature prominently in both ceremonies?

The mid-section, which culminated with Brand, Fatboy Slim and a double dose of Jesse J, felt like Britain dropping the baton on the finish line after two relayed weeks of excellence – the quick-fire jukebox, what we feared the opening ceremony would be like. But Boyle's masterpiece and the memories of Rudisha, Felix, Bolt, Farah and hundreds more meant that Sunday night could have featured Mark E Smith juggling beer bottles and the wonders of London 2012 would persist for decades. After all, Sydney – often cited as the best Games ever – was closed by Savage Garden and a Michael Hutchence-less INXS.

But there were Boyle-worthy moments, too: athletes from the two Koreas, from the US and Iran, from Israel and the Palestinian territories standing under John Lennon as he begged the world to "be as one" took some beating. Eric Idle leading the stadium in "Always Look On The Bright of Life" was wonderfully silly, the pulsating lights circling the banks of seats gorgeous, as was the extinguishing of Thomas Heatherwick's cauldron and Ray Davies' "Waterloo Sunset" over London 2012. Cynicism may have made a brief guest appearance in this joyous fortnight. But, as a nation that runs on the stuff, perhaps that's only apt.

Arts and Entertainment
The crowd enjoy Latitude Festival 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'

Is this the end of the Dowager Countess?tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn