After all the hype surrounding the Olympic Games opening ceremony, the issues burn on.
Was it all left-wing politics? Apparently one of the script-writers once worked for a socialist magazine and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament logo did make an appearance while the National Health Service logo came in for some special and exhaustive treatment. But apart from that, who cares? The NHS, that’s who (sorry, couldn't resist it).
But it’s worth dwelling on the nuts and bolts of this event and forgetting the politics for a moment. This was a production that demanded extraordinary discipline and professionalism – 200 rehearsals for thousands of amateur volunteers, a torch arriving on a powerboat up the Thames, 32 actresses dropped on wires in Mary Poppins outfits, six 100 feet high fabric chimneys powered by electric fans, 79,000 square feet of real grass, 161,000 square feet of staging, 75 “dove bikes” with wings, an 18 metre high Voldemort puppet character, a parashoot jump (not, you will be relieved to hear, featuring HM The Queen), and last but not least, those 320 hospital beds presided over by 600 real nurses. In total there were 1,200 volunteers from the NHS present so I reckon they earn their logo puffery!
In a way, the firework display was the least unusual part of the entire event – even though it was excellent. The event reminded me of something I had probably forgotten: that the British are damned good at putting on a show. Whether it be an amateur dramatics production in a village hall or a product launch for thousands, it is a sport in which we always did lead the world.
I thought Danny Boyle’s opener was a real winner (and not just because I’m an old left winger). Give the bloke a medal. And make it gold.