I now write on law and regulation facing the pensions sector for Professional Pensions and this portfolio will no longer be updated. Please read all my new articles on the Professional Pensions website.
Honestly, I can say that the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony was no less than impressive and inspiring; a fantastic recollection of the lows and the highs of British history.
Yes, a few things were missed here and there, but the British culture in all its vastness was most definitely celebrated; from music, to literature, to the National Health Service, Danny Boyle made sure that something from every aspect of our fantastic nation made it into his memorable masterpiece. It certainly was a spectacle.
Regardless of my mild cynicism and cautious take on the Olympics I spoke of yesterday, the Olympics have already surprised me. A fantastic piece of art itself, the Opening Ceremony simply shone a light on how important art is to culture, at a time when access to it is being cut. The 7500 volunteers who took part are what make this most fantastic – putting so much effort into one performance (so it might be the performance of your life) and coming out on top of the world, and not being paid a penny for it – that’s a feat, that’s inspiring, that’s admirable. In fact, it was Paul McCartney that ruined it for the show – right at the end, messing up his lyrics. Oh well, that bit’s not Danny Boyle’s fault and “Macca” hasn’t got a career left in him to ruin.
Particularly amusing for me though, was the inclusion of some world famous literary characters, and some well-loved comedians: of course, I’m talking about J.K. Rowling’s giant Lord Voldemort scared off by a million Mary Poppinses/Poppi(?), before Mr. Bean made his way into the Chariots of Fire video whilst retaining enough stamina to simultaneously press the same piano key over and over. You don’t need to be British to have been in awe with all of that in front of your eyes. I just feel sorry for the Americans who were not able to watch it live, and had their recorded version interrupted by commercials; surely that removes the magic of the show, but NBC are to blame.
Politically, a few things stood out to me last night, even though they were not intentional. Firstly, the Bedknobs and Broomsticks-esque sketch of the NHS, celebrating put unique welfare system. Not meant as a sentimental gesture to the Tory-led coalition, it certainly reminded us of what we do love about our country, and Twitter (at least) erupted in support of the system, rebuffing those proposed Government plans. Great Ormond Street Hospital holds particular significance to me, and I felt shivers down my spine as their excellence was demonstrated in the perfomance.
Secondly, the comments of the Tory MP for Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, Aidan Burley, were both shocking and appalling – attacking Danny Boyle’s masterpiece as “leftie multicultural” rubbish. It was a celebration of British culture and history, not an idealist piece of propaganda, or the manifesto of the Labour Party. Besides, Danny Boyle is a Conservative himself. Of course, Burley has rebuked his Tweets as misinterpreted, but that’s just PR for you.
And thirdly, I wonder how Mitt Romney is feeling about his comments on our preparation following that. Yes, I had some sympathy for his view yesterday, but retrospectively my written views make me nauxious, and I hope he is in a similar state of mind.
However, one point still stands; I’m still not a massive sports fan. That patriotism has become a little stronger, and I will share the joy with our nation when we collect numerous medals – I just won’t watch us win them. It’s still just about another sporting fixture to me – just preceded by one of the most excellent pieces of art I have ever admired. I will most certainly be remembering that, and I’m sure the other 26.9 million Britons alone will with me.