Thoughts On An Opening Ceremony

By Gavin Haynes


There is now a video on the internet titled "David Beckham Brings Torch on Speedboat". Which is really, really weird if you think about it, and also kinda great.  Photo via

It cost 50p for every man, woman and child in Britain. For that sort of money, every man, woman and child in Britain could've got two copies of The Sun. Or half a Cornetto from a reasonably priced cornershop outside of the South East. For the much quoted figure of £27m, we could have bought a fleet of 50 Maybachs and driven them all off of an open Tower Bridge into the Thames, creating the world's most incredible underwater pile-up of Maybachs, and therefore something they'd be talking about down the pubs of Myanmar far longer than Emmeline Pankhurst and her precious votes.


That is the sort of thing Danny Boyle should have been aiming for. In the style of famous Cool Britannic export Banksy, he should have done a ram-raid on the whole thing, just dropped tenners from the sky onto Plaistow, and then fucked off out of it. Knighthood cancelled, Robin Hood status assured faster than you can say KLF is gonna rock ya.


But no. Instead we had "Isles Of Wonder". And it was amazing. And really, this review should just be 500 words' worth of exclamation marks. Save your money. Send it to Danny Boyle. Drink more. Keep this absurd party going 24/7, 365. Sob about how lovely Britain is, produce tenner, frig off over The Queen.
 Repeat.

The spectacle Danny Boyle put together held a mirror up to Britain, and the mirror was swimming. It was very Lewis Carroll and, if we learned one thing from the show, it was that Britain writes bangers. Per capita (a statistical tactic we often use to puff ourselves up against the Y_ _ks) Britain is by far the best nation at music. You might go so far as to say it is the Stock Aitken Waterman of music. Sure, the Chinese did paper and gunpowder. But the Chinese equivalent of "Staying Alive" is played on a water-flute and concerns a goat herd's unrequited love for a girl in a neighbouring village. Sure, the Aussies had Kylie Minogue. But did they have Kylie Minogue? Of course not. Only Britain has music you would piss on if it were on fire.


While bits of it shuffled the decks of music history so liberally it felt like a cocaine iPod wrestle at a Danny Boyle comedown party, the overall effect was magical: as in it produced an effect which defied all natural laws. Sometime in this, approximately between 9.17PM and Angola, everyone's Twitter feeds stopped filling with bare-bones sarcasm, and started to sound like a lot of reflexively cynical youths trying out optimism for the first time in their internet lives. And yeah, it felt kinda good. Kinda, like, fuzzy 'n' shit. On the inside.


Obviously, this is more terrifying than when BBM filled with rendezvous spots for The Riots. But you'd have to be some sort of intergalactic mega-prick not to fall for it. The only legitimate excuse you could have would be if you were a black bloc cycle courier who spent the duration getting hit on the head by police near Limehouse Canal. And even then there was the silver guy riding the flying bike to make you feel better about your life.

Yes, there were sad moments. David Beckham inwardly breaking his wedding vows as he eyed up that tidy lass on a speedboat. Trevor Nelson's ongoing battle against dementia, the Muhammad Ali of British broadcasting wondering how to broach the Syrian problem. Frank Turner. The section on slavery. But as a cauldron of fire assembled itself, the camera went all soft focus and Pink Floyd began to peak, it was all worth it. Finally a global audience of a billion people understood precisely the sensation of mixing too much paracetamol with too much aspirin. This was the trip. The best part. Which I really like.

Follow Gavin on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes

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