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

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

Recruitment Genius: Associate Sales Consultant

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Associate Sales Consultant i...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: The five reasons why I vote

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff

Daily catch-up: the gap between rich and poor has narrowed (a little) since the banking crisis

John Rentoul
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot