Grace Dent: Soon the only thing uniting us will be Sharon's comeback in Eastenders

What have we learnt? That we can win tons of things. And that a Saudi woman could run the 800m in a headscarf and the sky didn't fall in

Share
Related Topics

As we edge closer to the end of the Olympics, many terminal mooches have informed me this lovely "feel-good" factor swaddling the nation CANNOT last. And, to be fair, they're damn right. In a fortnight's time – post Paralympics – without gold medals to win, Great Britain's greatest unifying cultural stimulus will be Sharon Watts coming back in EastEnders, Jodie Marsh's love life and the DFS Sale. And obviously, all these things are magical, but fail to see me reaching for an enormo-lanyard, mopping my leaky eyes at the splendour of human endeavour. I do, however, believe "stuff we felt and learned" during the Games might be useful.

For example, it turns out that Great Britain and Northern Ireland can win things. Tons of things. And it turns out we loved winning things and could aloud we loved winning without worrying it made us ruthless pigs, impolite oafs, a bit Tory, total Nazis or "a bit too much like bloody Americans". We learn that a Saudi woman could run the 800 metres in a headscarf and the sky didn't fall in, in fact the world barely noticed.

We learned that east London could live with an increased police presence and we all got on swimmingly. We learned that the Army could sail in and guard east London and turned out to be a bunch of charmers, in fact the fact they'll be scooting off to more serious matters soon makes me rather sniffly. They're just teenagers for God's sake. Teenagers in khaki checking handbags and getting hit on by approximately 180 women an hour. We saw tons of women on TV presenting, which meant women throwing to other women throwing back to the studio to yet more women, discussing women's sporting achievements, not showbiz.

Tons of women competing were hefty or hairy or plain-looking or didn't wear makeup, extend their eyelashes, dye themselves brown or even have a hairstyle. Unkempt anti-dollybirds on telly being strong and warrior-like. Oh and we all broke free of our Sky+ planners and iPlayers and watched TV again together in real time and chatted about it without worrying about "spoilerz" and hot damn it was sort of brilliant.

The Worlds Biggest Sofa. Shift up, I'm looking at Mark Cavendish's lovely cow eyes, you can have a go with the Thorpedo. Before the Olympics there was a mithering assertion from politicians, the media and "wangs who've driven me in cabs" that Britons are work-shy and unemployable. But then the scores of Olympic Games-makers and volunteers turned out to be brilliant, smiling, helpful and hardworking.

An opening ceremony was created which broke the mould of how we celebrate "who we are", sweeping aside the usual HRHs clomping about in war medals praising posh people, giving us something chaotic, full of soot and smelting and modern music saluting centuries of working class toil. And almost everyone accepted it warmly – aside from one mesmerising berk on a newspaper online blogging section – and re-learned that things that had been hyped would be good, could sometimes turn out to surpass expectations. But, for me, the most important thing many of us learned was to relax ever so slightly our inherent knee-jerk cynicism to any speckle of niceness on our horizon.

So if someone says "Gosh, didn't Chad Le Clos's dad look happy on telly?", it became fine to answer simply "Yes, what a nice bloke with his wobbly belly" and NOT sneer loudly then clang everyone around the head with a lecture on Sun City, the ANC and the current rape conviction rate. Not that these aren't important matters, but sometimes, sometimes, the warmth, the froth and the silliness is just as enriching too. And I happen to love the silliness. If there was gold medal for that, I'd be on the podium for Team GB centre-stage.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women are working in some of the lowest-paid sectors such as cleaning, catering and caring  

Women's wages have gone backwards. Labour would give women the pay they deserve

Gloria de Piero
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?