Jane Merrick: Faster, higher, stronger – yes, that's us

Share
Related Topics

So was Aidan Burley right: was the opening ceremony "leftie multi-cultural crap"? Should Danny Boyle have kept to the Red Arrows and Shakespeare, and not the NHS, the Jarrow marchers and the Industrial Revolution?

There were moments when even the staunchest left-winger would have thought things had gone a bit too far: Shami Chakrabarti carrying the Olympic flag with Muhammad Ali was more Twenty Twelve than London 2012.

But there was also the Queen, James Bond and the Armed Forces. Something for everyone. Boyle's artfulness was to tick every box. He made Labour supporters, libertarians, anti-war activists and patriots think it was for them. Yes, the ceremony was political. Yet it was not, ultimately, about left vs right, but of modernism vs backwardness.

Burley, famous for attending a Nazi-themed stag party, probably liked the pastoral scene, of bonneted ladies herding geese over bridges. He probably wishes all of our nation was still like this. Yet their purpose was not to show how lovely rural Britain is today, but to set up the Industrial Revolution. I was moved not by the pleasant scenes of simple country life, but by the gigantic blackened chimneys and forging of the Olympic rings, the shocking, noisy white heat of industry.

The suburban family – the white mother and black father representing the multiculturalism that must have sent Burley on to Twitter – and their digital generation children showed how a Briton, Tim Berners-Lee, invented the internet.

Scenes from our best films and TV were flashed up on the family's house, including the first-ever pre-watershed lesbian screen kiss from Brookside in 1994. When it was pointed out on Twitter that viewers in Saudi Arabia would have witnessed a gay kiss televised for the first time, Boyle's genius seemed complete.

Yes, some of our foreign exploits during the empire were outrageous, but for centuries the British endeavour has been to break down barriers and push boundaries. We may not break many world records in sport. We are often consumed by self-doubt. We love a good shambles. But when Mitt Romney said that Britain was not ready, we were rightly affronted and told him to get lost. When Jeremy Hunt's bell went flying into the crowd on Friday, we felt sorry for him. By the evening, we were ready to be uplifted.

Sebastian Coe got up and said "When our time came, we did it right" and we forgave him for beating Steve Ovett. I didn't hear what Jacques Rogge said, just his voice, the same voice that said "London" on 6 July 2005, before our party stopped. It was all part of the story. Leftie? A bit. Multicultural? Definitely. Crap? Of course not.

The Daily Mail liked it, but now the dust has settled, it will probably rage against some of the leftier elements tomorrow. Every week we are told that Britain has gone to the dogs. Danny Boyle showed why we have not. What makes Britain great? Our modernism. Our progress. In industry, healthcare, the internet, culture and music we have gone faster, higher, stronger. The next two weeks will show Team GB trying to do that in sport.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones