On Saturday an entire nation woke with a cultural hangover. Even those who’d entered into Friday evening full of cynicism, woke up asking themselves, “did that really happen?” and “It was rather good, wasn’t it?”
I’ve never been anti-olympics, but I can understand why some are. I have, however, been against elements of the event – the sponsorship, the censorship on urban comment through the whitewashing of graffiti, the missiles on people’s houses.

But I love a big spectacle, I secretly love Britain being able to play equally on a world stage (one of the reasons I love Nu-Who is simply because, here, finally was a TV Show that my American friends were jealous of. “Yeah,” I said proudly. “And it’s primetime”)
I’d tried to avoid much of the rumours about the opening ceremony. I’d seen the designs for the countryside setting and that had been enough to pique my interest. Everyone was going on about how great China’s ceremony had been and how ours would be rubbish in comparison. Please don’t suck, I thought. Please don’t suck.
And as I sat, along with a large part of the nation, watching the spectacle unfold, I was delighted. People following on twitter from around the world, must have thought the country was on one massive acid trip. OMG, a nation tweeted, the actual queen just jumped out of a helicopter with James Bond. Some even tried to play along, coming up with outlandish suggestions that fell short of what we were seeing. If a seventy foot robot Charles Dickens had emerged from the Thames shooting lasers from its eyes, it would have been a letdown compared to a 100 foot Lord Voldemort stopped from terrorising sick children in flying beds by an army of Mary Poppins. As I said as I tweeted that a birdman was cycling across the stadium skies, you just can’t make this shit up.
What I loved was its inclusivity. There was a deaf choir, suffragettes, wheelchair bound dancers, none of it singled out or made to look exceptional. They were there, because… well, it would seem stupid not to have included them. Sure you couldn’t fit everything about our country into the ceremony but I guess that was part of the point. We are not easy to define, although Danny Boyle has come closer than anyone. It refused to be jingoistic whilst filling us with rarely seen national pride.
When some of my American friends complained it was a bit of a shambles because it was chaotic and a bit all over the place, all I could say was “Yes. But it was so us.” We’re not a land of bowler hats and bad dentistry, we’re so much more.
The message at the end of it is simply this: we are an island united in our diversity. It’s not perfect by any means, but our nation is defined not by uniformity but by individuality.