Today is going to be a day which should be momentous, but alack the reality is far more unimpressive.
I am going to see a film in Spanish. Not, I hasten to add because I will understand it, but rather since it is –Borat’s “The Dictator”, it will be slapstick enough for me to understand without the need for too much extra language. It is always frustrating that the original language of the film is of course English.
Appalling film with some horrifically poorly judged “jokes” a complete (no, too harsh “almost” complete) waste of money – and the filmic experience not made any better by having a row of young people eating noisily and fairly constantly, which at least meant that they did not talk all the time. I remembered why cinemas are usually such a disappointing experience.
And I hope and trust that those last two words are not going to be a summation of the taxpayer funded extravaganza this evening when, at last, the Opening Ceremony takes place.
There is already a slightly sour feel to the Olympics as a Welsh competitor was described as English in the programme and anyway the men’s bloody football team could only manage a draw against that mighty footballing super-nation Senegal. Well, good luck to them. We are long used to footballing disappointment.
And talking of disappointment, Spain men’s football team actually managed to lose their opening football game against Japan. I have been told to curb my disappointment (Spain, after all is my fall-back nation when we fail to make it out of our group), as it is traditional for Spain to lose their opening match to inject an element of tension into the whole affair.
In order to calm my nerves before the possible debacle this evening I have decided to look at the manual for the camera again to try and get the bits that it was bought for to work.
That should pass the time! Or give a new definition to futility.
The lighting of the cauldron was, as perhaps it should be, the triumph of the evening. I particularly liked the fact that each nation had a “petal” of the cauldron associated with it and that the young athletes lit the first petals which linked to the others so that when all were alight they rose up and formed a sort of burning flower. Immensely powerful and dramatically inclusive. This is by far the most stimulating lighting of the flame that I have seen. Though I also have to admit that the Barcelona archer shooting a burning arrow into the cauldron to start the flame is difficult to beat and remains in the mind.
The overall impression from the Opening Ceremony is one of relief that it wasn’t embarrassing and even greater relief that it did not rely on the techniques of the repulsive version of Beijing.
What I loathed about the Beijing approach was that it reduced human beings into live pixels in the way that the old Communist regimes used to in their Spartakiadas; the individual subordinated to the general picture. We are not like that and Boyle’s presentation reflected it.
I liked the opening rustic idyll and its dramatic transformation into the Industrial Revolution. The nods to popular culture – James Bond and the Queen, Mr Bean, the music all worked to a lesser or greater extent. The visuals were sometimes stunning and sometimes mysterious but always engaging – but the saving grace was the cauldron.
No sooner over one fear than the other comes to haunt: we haven’t got a medal, not even of any sort. One of our “banker” golds failed to be anywhere within reach of a medal and now the cold hand of failure is gripping my heart.
As you know, I have a stake in our golden future as the Post Office has said that they will issue a new stamp to recognize the achievement of any team or athlete gaining a gold medal. In St Louis over a century ago we gained a single gold. We have never failed to get at least one in any of the Olympic Games of the Modern Era – and we have been in all of them. Come on (he said diffidently) Team GB.
“Team GB” is a designation of the British athletes that Toni finds objectionable and I think that I do too. After all Great Britain means England, Scotland and Wales. If we include Northern Ireland then the name of the country is the United Kingdom. So we should be Team UK. Or has Northern Ireland thrown its lot in with the Republic for the Olympics? I think not. Or perhaps there are no athletes from Northern Ireland taking part? I think not. Most unsatisfactory.
Or perhaps I am just being pedantic and objecting to a trendy abbreviation. I think not.