Boyle's Olympic Games opening ceremony made Britannia so cool

South Wales Argus: THE NEWSDESK: Boyle's vision made Britannia so cool THE NEWSDESK: Boyle's vision made Britannia so cool

OH Danny Boyle, you delivered.

Brash, ballsy, British. You took that twee Downton Abbey world and blew it up with fireworks, drumming, suffragettes, unions, pearly kings and queens, nurses, children in pyjamas, Grime-loving teenagers in clubs and stunning use of handheld sets by the crowd.

And David Cameron must have been squirming in his seat. Would the Bullingdon Boys now dare tamper with the NHS after your sharp little allegory, the sick children seeing off all kinds of monsters? Let's hope not.

I forgive you for Kenneth Branagh in a stove-pipe hat. I forgive you for Team GB's Jimmy Savile-inspired tracksuits. I even forgive you for trotting out that pensioner at the end to give us a badly-executed singalong version of Hey Jude.

Because you gave us giant-headed punks on pogo sticks jumping around to Pretty Vacant and a replay of Ewan MacGregor's Trainspotting toilet swimming. For that alone you shall be forgiven all minor transgressions.

You gave us the Arctic Monkeys' Come Together with glow-in-the-dark moths on bicycles. You gave us soap clips and Dizzee Rascal, and our very own London version of the Slumdog Millionaire romance.

Which royal but a British Queen would have played along so well with the parachuting Bond gag?

Frankly, I don't know one Brit who gives a damn what the rest of the world thought about it.

At a cost of £27 million, you knew instinctively this could be no Beijing performance of cowed massed ranks, no homogenised, corporate view of who we are, no mask of Britishness.

We were paying for it, and it was there to entertain us.

If people in Wisconsin or Vladivostok were left scratching their heads, why should we care?

We adored your love letter to British film, from A Matter Of Life And Death to Kes, and played count-the-hit in the Frankie and June section.

And then there he was, the man who gave the world the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. See, world? See what we gave you? See all those great things we gave you?

We're just so damned cool, and through recession and war and our own self-deprecation we had forgotten it.

The world might think we're bonkers. We just know we're free.

 

 

ONE of the most poignant moments of the opening ceremony for me was the sight of sprinter Dana Abdul Razak carrying the Iraqi flag, tears welling up in her eyes, to be there in London after all that has happened at home.

Iraq is still riven by sectarian violence. Abdul Razak is a Shiite. Her coach is a Sunni. She says sport should "unify the Iraqi people — no Sunnis, no Shiites, just sport for the country."

In 2008, she competed at the Beijing games, the only Iraqi athlete at that time to train within her war-torn country.

She is a true inspiration to her fellow countrymen and women.

Let's not forget in this celebration of who we are, just what other peoples have gone through to send their athletes to these games.

And let's not forget that for the first time, every one of the 204 countries has sent at least one female athlete.

What an achievement. But just how has this taken so long?

 

 

WOMEN'S footballer Steph Houghton has probably done more for her sport with one single goal than any other woman before her.

The fact that Team GB won its opening match against New Zealand 1-0 in Cardiff, and that it was the first Olympic event, catapulted Sunderland woman Houghton onto the front pages of every national newspaper.

She's a determined woman. In 2007, she was just three days away from joining the England squad for the World Cup when she broke her leg. A serious knee injury prevented her from playing at the European Championships in 2010.

And, boys, all without a multi-million pound salary.

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