Kevin Garside: These Games are writing a parable for modern Britain, of equality and opportunity

The point has been to be part of this national rite, to bathe in the holy water of Olympic congress

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. This is the big idea at the heart of the Olympic Games, Cool Britannia in shorts, and the British public is in thrall to it. A beaming young woman from Sheffield who, before this incredible odyssey began, few beyond the world of athletics could have picked from a line-up of similarly attractive women on a typical Saturday afternoon in Meadowhall, is arguably more popular now than Her Royal Gorgeousness the Duchess of Cambridge. Journalistic convention requires me to name her as Jessica Ennis, but I'm guessing you need no help identifying her.

At the same mad extravaganza some bloke from Milton Keynes jumped to Olympic gold and a British Somali ran into the sporting hall of fame. Like Ennis, Greg Rutherford (right) and Mo Farah entered this world with no advantage conferred upon them, save for that which nature bestowed. Indeed Farah's life chances in war-torn Somalia were less than auspicious. And when he pitched up, aged eight, in the great melting pot that is this sceptred isle, speaking barely a word of English, he still had it all to do. Now he will never have to open a door again. Arise Sir Mo, surely?

The campaign has already begun to have a roundabout in MK named after Rutherford. What greater honour could there be for a citizen of the unitary authority in the heart of England? Only a statue of his likeness placed among the concrete cows could top that. As for Ennis, the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year is taken care of, that's for sure. No more macho overloading of that line-up. The fourth estate is already in a whirl over the sporting phenomenon raging about us. The BBC's Ten O'Clock News devotes the first half of the broadcast to the British gold rush while the Syrian uprising, the banking crisis (remember that?), the weekly summit to determine the fate of the euro and similar issues of global importance are shoved into a file labelled "other news".

A tacit thread that has yet to be fully understood or articulated is running through this very public gathering at the heart of our nation. The 80,000 who convened in the torchlit temple in Stratford were indeed blessed to witness first hand a night of unremitting joy, but you did not need to feel the heat of the Olympic flame on your back to be touched by the event. The iPhone is the umbilical link to Games Central. I watched Ennis breast the tape in the 800 metres some 50 miles north-west of the stadium in the very city that is home to Jumping Greg Flash.

Yes, on the concourse outside Milton Keynes, over the shoulder of a man with synthetic Wiggo whiskers attached to his face, and in the company of a splendid dame I am guessing was his mother, we watched one of the defining moments of these Games unfold in all its kaleidoscopic glory on a smart- phone. As a three-ball we met only as we disembarked the train, yet we laughed and cried like the oldest of friends. The mother of all sideburns had spotted my Olympic accreditation, which was taken as an invitation to commune and to emote. She, like me, had spent the evening in the Velodrome, an experience which for her was akin to some kind of sporting baptism. She knew little about cycling. The point was to attend these Games, to be part of this national rite, to bathe in the holy water of Olympic congress.

She, indeed most of us, are not so very different from the golden girls and boys bringing home the bacon for Britain. And that is a big part of the story that is unfolding before us. The Olympics is writing a parable for the modern age, recycling grand notions of equality and opportunity and rolling them out across one great meritocratic canvas. What could be more uplifting and affirming than the story of Ennis, a mixed-race kid from a post-industrial city in the North, penetrating the national consciousness by making the most of the gifts given to her at birth? For Ennis read Farah, Rutherford and the majority of those walking around the Olympic Village with gold around their necks. By their own agency have they raised themselves to stations considered impossibly high by most who share their modest birthright.

Is it any wonder politicians of every hue were putting themselves about the Olympic sites last week, despite looking every inch the anti-athletes most of them are? David Cameron spent longer on The Mall than Wiggo and the boys on the opening day of the Games and has subsequently delivered bulletins on the health of the nation from the Olympic Village. The Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, was out and about among the Lycra lads on the opening weekend. And the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has eclipsed Wenlock and Mandeville as the most visible mascot of the Games.

But this is not their utopia. It is ours, the ordinary folk of this land, and our offspring doing us proud.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone