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.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Anthony Hopkins in Westworld

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rock and role: Jamie Bell's character Benjamin Grimm is transformed into 'Thing' in the film adaptation of Marvel Comics' 'Fantastic Four'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Hopkins veered between sycophancy and insult in her new chat show
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
In his role as Hamlet, Benedict Cumberbatch will have to learn, and repeat night after night, around 1,480 lines

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Belgian sexologist Goedele Liekens with pupils at Hollins Technology College in Accrington
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The rapper Drake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The gaffer: Prince Philip and the future Queen in 1947
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Style icons: The Beatles on set in Austria
film
Arts and Entertainment
By Seuss! ‘What Pet Shall I Get?’ hits the bookshops this week
Books
Arts and Entertainment
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after Enola Gray and her crew dropped the bomb
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Elliott outside his stationery store that houses a Post Office
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future