Four years ago, during the hand-over ceremony from Beijing to London, I wrote this: http://poledancinginpictures.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/studio-pics-and-olym-pics-see-what-i.html
In 2012, I take it all back. Our opening ceremony was furthest from what I dreaded it would be (a kind of X-Factor in sportswear, with special effects provided by the main sponsors). Instead, Diversity and golden arches fireworks were nowhere to be seen, and we got a show which was a meaningful and true reflection of British history and a courageous stab at representing our very varied culture. Despite an absence of schmaltz, I had goosebumps up my arms and a lump in my throat at times, and howled with laughter when lofty institutions (the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Family) allowed themselves to be used with humour.
The effects were spectacular: the march of the Industrial Revolution over a pastoral landscape, with soaring towers, smoking factories and that amazingly clever forging of the Olympic rings (I couldn't help being reminded of Tolkein). Also the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron at the end. It was all very wonderful.
I truly felt very proud to be British, congratulations Danny Boyle, you achieved the near-impossible with a perfect balance of respect and irreverance. A knighthood surely follows!
The Olympics events themselves have gone smoothly so far and seem happily advert-free. I'm personally spoilt that several have taken place right on my doorstep. 2012 has been a brilliant year to be English.
(c) E M Gosling, 2011. All Rights Reserved.