After 16 days of sporting heroism which made London the centre of the world, the curtain fell on the 30th Olympics last night with a display of exuberant – at times anarchic – revelry that had but one message: Bye world, we hope you as good a time as we did. Now let's dance.
With 29 gold medals – reflecting the glory of the best performance by a British Olympic team in 104 years, the Closing Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium delivered the grandest of grand hurrahs. From the National Anthem introducing Timothy Spall's Winston Churchill, pictured, to George Michael, the Kaiser Chiefs, the Spice Girls and so many others, Britain showed that as well as putting on the greatest show on earth, it does a pretty good party too.
Just as Danny Boyle's opening jamboree had enthralled with its heady cocktail of the sublime and Mr Bean, so artistic director Kim Gavin, a ballet dancer turned stadium tour impresario, provided a sumptuous feast of British eccentricity. This was all about showing the estimated global television audience of 300 million that, after putting on an unquestionably fine Games, London, had reason to celebrate.
The Who brought the three-hour performance to a crescendo with a thundering rendition of "My Generation" following Brian May who joined, in turn, a virtual Freddie Mercury and a sequin-suited Jessie J on stage. Reserving the right of this host nation to bamboozle, there was also the downright wacky. The Robin Reliant immortalised in classic comedy Only Fools and Horses made an explosive appearance. Inevitably, it seemed, Eric Idle followed singing that Monty Python standard "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".
And then there was Russell Brand aboard a psychedelic bus singing The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus". The bus, naturally, turned into a giant inflatable octopus with Fatboy Slim DJing on the roof.