Danny Boyle directed the visually astonishing ‘Frankenstein’ at the National Theatre, so he’s used to stitching together a monster from lots of different parts.
Even so, the Olympic opening ceremony must have presented a challenge for him. The sublime highs – Isambard Kingdom Brunel directing the forging of the rings in a river of molten steel, the NHS, airborne fairy bikes, Mary Poppinses and World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee – were joined to silliness – HRH parachuting, Mr Beany Hill – and generic naffness – virtually forgotten band the Arctic Monkeys, Hugh Grant, ‘young people’ dancing – to make a whole portrait of a country that felt oddly accurate.
What was missing? Dickens, Florence Nightingale, artists (Hooray! No Damien Hirst!) Madness (who did the Jubilee) and Monty Python, but event was busy and bonkers enough to confound sceptics, confuse Republicans and convince sports fans that it’ll be a great 17 days, climate-changed weather and all.
The LA Times attempted to figure out the message of it all; ‘It might be something like, “Sorry for the unintended consequences, but we did give you steam engines, great pop music and comedy and the roots of social networking. It was ugly there for a while, but we’re all right — and everybody dance now.”
An unexpected side effect of Friday’s gathering-of-the-world was the transformation of the visiting Mitt Romney into a figure of ridicule – good luck with the diplomacy tour, Mitt. You might want to be careful what you say to Israel, they’re really touchy.
I threw an Olympic party on my roof (we watched the Red Arrows roar overhead and heard the explosions bouncing in great booms around the neighbourhood). There’s still a lot of cake left if anybody wants it.