The green and pleasant land is one of the themes of Danny Boyle's 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, boasting 10,000 extras, live sheep, a replica Glastonbury Tor, real maypole frolicking and mosh pits – all happening in just 44 days' time. I feel for Danny Boyle and I feel for the BBC crew covering his vision. If the Jubilee coverage and its 4,000 official complaints taught us anything, it was that as a nation of spoilt, indolent sofa-chunterers, our expectations of modern life have not been managed.
You know that bit when the lights go out at the O2 and Kanye West emerges on a 50ft pink neon sugarcube? We want that. You know when Coldplay give out 40,000 LED Xylobands that pulsate right through "Hurts Like Heaven" when you're two drinks in? That, give us THAT.
God forbid that during Boyle's "Welcome world, we are Britain!" 240-minute hoo-hah, our glee levels drop to mere "mild elation". What if that cloned dodo chick in Union Flag colours that Boyle has scheduled to chip from a Fabergé egg as Team Russia appears fails to hit its cue? What if Sue Barker has to fill for a minute and mispronounces a name? What if it rains? (It's going to rain. Have you looked at Summer? It's like Koh Samui rainy season.)
Boyle – you'll not just have let Team GB and taxpayers down, you'll have let the world down. Incidentally, the dodo is not actually in the ceremony. I'm being obtuse. But with an £81m budget, it probably could be. In fact, with an £81m spend, it'll be difficult for the public to watch Boyle's ceremony with any sort of simple, curious enjoyment.
That said, my appetite is already whetted for Boyle's recreation of the "English countryside". Pictures have shown him standing with a mini-version of a typical scene, the entire stadium pitch covered in moveable shrubbery. There's talk of a real-life cricket team, clucking chickens, children dancing jigs, all very Darling Buds of May, not much badger-baiting, etc. No word of a mini-Stonehenge, don't be daft – that would be too much like the climax of Spinal Tap.
And, remember, this ceremony is no giggling matter. Having spent a lot of time in the English countryside, I've jotted down some ideas of rural life to give Boyle's narrative some veracity. He can have these for free. My sketch recreates the life of a modern urban family hoodwinked by Location, Location, Location into selling up and moving to a spacious, six-bedroom ex-vicarage 11 miles from a B-road where no one can hear you scream.
The distant buzz of strange children from the local village on quad bikes looking for foxes to tip off the illegal hunt heralds the arrival of a theatrical "village shopkeeper" stocking shelves sparsely with Primula squirty cheese and long-life Mother's Pride, pulling a contorted face as she's asked for "a bulb of garlic". In the mock village green, a gang of teenagers (played by people not good enough to be in Plan B's film iLL Manors) lie about on a village bench, getting pissed up on Merrydown, fingering each other and shouting abuse at an eccentric old woman with a pull-along shopping basket as she travels from door to door delivering marrow seeds, mumbling a pass-agg suggestion that every household grows one "for the fête".
Boyle will then unleash real ducks on to a village pond which will immediately sink to the bottom as they're so fat from toddlers feeding them stale millionaire's shortbread. This is followed by a tribe of village schoolgate mums greeting Team USA with forced smiles, then slagging off the prettiest female athletes for "wearing make-up like it's a fashion show". The climax of the rural tableaux will be a Ukip bore, played by Martin Clunes, chasing Team Somalia round the track, accusing them of syphoning diesel out of his LandCruiser.
I've mailed these ideas over to Boyle first-class and expect to see them acted on or he'll be receiving a stiff complaint in my finest green bingo marker. People seemed to take note of the Jubilee's outraged 4,000 viewers so I know they'll take my disappointment seriously.
Good for you, Madonna
I was pleased to see Madonna's nipple in Istanbul the other day, all ripe and knobbly like an impudent strawberry. It served to show how our attitudes to women and ageing aren't shifting, no matter how Madge has pushed at boundaries. "Vile", "disgusting", "creepy" and "sickening" were some of the more polite words used to describe a 53-year-old woman showing a bit of a tit, on a well-sculpted body in a costly designer outfit. More power to her defiance. I hope aged 98 she has both boobs out. Brand new boobs, newly welded nipples pointing upwards like Pekinese dogs sniffing chocolate. Give the world something genuine to quack about.
In my day, you were lucky to be left in the car with a bag of crisps
Congratulations to Nancy Cameron on the occasion of "being left in the pub by your dad". Far from child neglect, I fear this may be one of the most normal, everyday things that happens to her ever. This is her "Prince William and Harry on the log flume moment".
My own father, when I was six, on a rare occasion he did bedtime, managed to make such a slapdash job of it that I simply got dressed again and toddled off to a friend's house streets away, leaving him enjoying a can of Skol and Only When I Laugh on Border TV. I was found three hours later.
Parenting was different in the 1970s. Nancy should be glad she got inside the pub, unlike many Britons who were left in the backs of Maxi cars outside The Bull with a bag of Tudor Pickled Onion crisps, a warm bottle of Britvic Orange, and strict instructions not to "fiddle with the handbreak". Then driven home an hour later, no seatbelts, by someone over the limit. A friend said to me today: "Bonus points for bad 70s parenting if the crisps were pushed through the car window by just some pub random, not even your dad."
"Helicopter parenting" this certainly wasn't.Reuse content