Simon Kelner: After all the euphoria, back to the harsh realities

Kelner's view


Welcome to the first day of the rest of your lives. It's a little bit weird, isn't it? No need to plan meticulously your evening's viewing, making sure you don't miss the rhythmic gymnastics. No need to spend half the night in front of the computer in a vain quest to get tickets for the Olympic Stadium.

No need to hear that awful moniker Team GB. And no need to wrap yourself in a Union flag for a while. For two weeks, Britain has enjoyed a glorious diversion, but it has been much more than that: the Olympic Games has been nothing short of a phenomenon.

It has made us think that sport really matters. And in taking pride in the outstanding performances of our athletes, in revelling in the fact that we have put on a show that has impressed the world, in believing that we can be unified as a people, and find identity as a nation, through sporting achievement, we have bought into the idea that all this running and jumping and screaming actually amounts to something.

Perhaps it will. Perhaps we will take our cue from the volunteer army, and become much more helpful and public-spirited individuals. And perhaps London 2012 will be the catalyst for an era of communal effort, when people see the benefit of pulling together. But somehow I doubt it. In no time, the political opportunism of announcing a greater investment in sport in schools will be seen as just that, and when the question of selling off playing fields comes up in the future, the same old financial imperatives will hold sway.

That's not to say that we will be unaffected by this past fortnight. We have learnt a lot about ourselves, and the message that Britons come in all shades, and from all backgrounds, is a positive one. Our two greatest Olympic heroes – a mixed race woman and a man who migrated here from Somalia – present a picture of modern Britain that we should all get behind. This fits in with the image Danny Boyle painted all those moons ago of a polyglot country that was vibrant, and chaotic.

He was wrong, however, on the last count. Anyone who went to an Olympic event can't fail to have been impressed by its organisation, or by the efficiency of the transport system, or by the flawless presentation. I have never thought we were very good at the service industry thing but this Games showed that we can do it. Everywhere, people were made to feel welcome and that nothing was too much trouble. The hoteliers and restaurateurs of Great Britain would do well to take note.

We will have to see how the legacy pans out, but for a magnificent two weeks we have lived in a bubble where all notion of impartiality has been suspended. Today real life starts up again.

And, in language Bradley Wiggins would recognise, we face a long, hard climb.

React Now

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

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next

British economy: Government hails the latest GDP figures, but there is still room for skepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform