Tunnocks Tea Cakes, kilts, tartan, bagpipes, the Loch Ness monster, Sir Chris Hoy, Billy Connolly, Susan Boyle singing “Mull of Kintyre”, Gretna Green, Scottish Terriers, whisky, the Forth Bridge, Irn Bru, a thistle mascot, a beautifully clear evening without a cloud in sight … perhaps the only thing missing from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on Wednesday night was Sean Connery tucking in to a deep-fried Mars Bar.
If any other country had tried to paint this picture of the host nation they would have been unceremoniously drop-kicked into the North Sea by Duncan Weir, the country’s rugby union outside-half. Many of the nine million people watching on television would have smirked at proceedings – but none more so than the Scots themselves.
The crowd’s rapturous welcome as the teams entered the stadium said everything you need to know about how the next 10 days will be received in Glasgow. The Games may be on a smaller scale when compared to the Olympics, but you try telling the competitors.
Indeed, one area in which the Commonwealth Games goes one better than London 2012 is the inclusion of Para-athlete events on the same programmes and in the same venues, allowing competitors to feel equal with more able-bodied athletes.
As you settle back to enjoy the world-class performances, let’s hope the Better Together and Yes, Scotland campaigns can stick to their promises and refrain from linking the independence debate to the sporting action. Somehow, I think that neither camp will win medals in that quest.