LONDON. A GLIMPSE OF WHAT COULD BE
“Despite all the familiar fears of failure – of traffic snarl-ups, botched security arrangements and dreadful weather – we have surprised ourselves by staging a global event of infinite complexity with near-perfect success.” Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?
But it’s true. Congratulations are in order. The only surprise is that the Brits have surprised themselves.
Closing ceremony… a day in the life of London – before the arena turned into a giant moshpit. Photograph via The Star.
As someone who has always loved Britain (since I read my first Beatrix Potter book as a child and I wished and wished I had been born there), it has been painful to see the nation’s increasing self-doubt.
It’s been like watching elderly parents, who don’t become wiser with old age, but more fearful. Wary and suspicious of anything new.
If London 2012 goes some way to restoring a more confident, brave and more compassionate Britain, then it’s a wonderful thing.
“Of course it cannot last, not at this pitch at any rate. Already, like the holidaymakers who know they are due to fly home in a couple of days, the sense, even the dread, of a return to normality is looming,” Freedland continued.
So this is what the British must tackle after the euphoria of the games wears off. Why is “normality” such a depressing scenario for so many?Athletes enter the arena for the closing ceremony. Photograph via BBC. And then, below, supermodels, including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. Photograph via smh.com.au.
After all, for most Australians, “normality” is the thing we strive for. The greatest thing we have to offer.
Perhaps it’s something to do with the daily reminder the British are given that some are “high-born” and some are “lowly”. I’ll never forget the day I toured an English stately home and the English woman in front of me took her small daughter by the arm and pointed out a portrait on the wall.
“Look,” she marvelled, breathlessly, “look at her. She’s a Duchess!”
I wanted to whisper in that child’s ear: “ Yes, and she’s no better than you.”
In Australia, like most nations in the world, the gap between the wealthy and the poor grows ever-wider, but the absence of a “ruling class” is something we take for granted.A history of great British music, including John Lennon and then, below, a Spice Girls reunion. Photographs via The Star.
Perhaps London 2012, coming straight after the Queen’s Jubilee, reminded the populace that world-class achievement has nothing to do with “lineage” and that the meaning of the word “privilege” means something else entirely for the rest of the world.
It’s a privilege to have a safe and peaceful spot to watch a sunrise or sunset and know, in your bones, that it doesn’t look any better if you are viewing it as a Prince or a pauper.
I didn’t particularly enjoy the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. I gave it a “fail” on its confused theatricality. Its lack of a grand moment.
But I do acknowledge that – with its nod to the National Health System, its embrace of multi-culturalism and celebration of quirkiness – that it spoke to its home audience and may have hit the target as it stirred the Tories into fury.Goodbye, London. Fireworks light up the arena during the closing ceremony. Photograph via National Post.
The declaration of it as “multicultural crap” by one Conservative MP, meant it did what director Danny Boyle had intended it to do. The late Robert Hughes, an avowed Republican, nailed it when he said: “The fear of sudden cultural discontinuity is merely a cistern into which the monarchists can pour their inarticulate bad dreams about multiculturalism.”
I suspect Freedland being grandiose when he says: “And so perhaps historians might record this strange, heady fortnight as the moment when we finally laid to rest a national myth that had dogged us so long, concluding a narrative that began with one London Olympiad and ended in another: the age of decline, 1948-2012.”
More than six decades of decline? That’s a long time and more, surely, than 14 days can restore.
He also says that when the shine of gold fades, Britons will quickly revert to their distrustful views on immigration, the reality of austerity and the governance by corrupt politicians and bankers and, he mentions, bad weather.
But who could deny the populace a Golden Fortnight and a glimpse of what could be?
Well done. Well played. Carry on.
What were your highlights and lowlights of London 2012?
What do you think of the closing ceremony?