Friday, July 27, 2012

Isles of Wonder

Well, it was fantastic. 
It was also funny, overblown, touching, confused, subversive, exhilarating, irreverent, cool and very very creative. It was bonkers. And somehow, amazingly given the scale of it all, it managed to be human.
It ticked all the boxes but in a very natural, uncynical way. It presented Britain as youthful and multicultural. It celebrated the commoner. Yes, the Queen was there to open it, but she also jumped out of a helicopter with Bond. That was inspired. Which other global head of state would agree to something like that. Hats off to you Ma'am. It featured all the right people: from celebs to volunteers. It was a laugh (Bean), it was poignant (Ali). The music was good - as it should have been (we could hardly get that wrong) and the grassy Glastonbury Tor was genius. It managed to integrate the Olympic bits seamlessly and tastefully: the speeches on the hill, the lighting of the flame, the parade of the athletes (and one Indian student)... One could quibble about bits of it - the parochial Eastenders and something about a lost mobile phone for example - but overall it was an absolute triumph.
It's funny, what Danny Boyle did was essentially the same as what I'm trying to do day-in day-out at the British Council. I thought with UK Now in China we were really upping the ante, but Boyle managed to condense into four hours what UK Now is attempting to do in eight months and I have been trying to do in a career: project a positive, creative image of Britain to the world. I feel like (happily) throwing in the towel!  But he did have £27 million to play with.
I must say, it did make me proud, I did have a tear or two in my eye, and as I switched the telly off at 8am China time, I wondered what Mum would have made of it all...

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