I watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony on a big screen surrounded by fellow Countrymen enjoying the last of the sun, eating carrot batons. Later, and in more apt Olympic style, I switched to Chicken Nuggets. The drinking aspect of the evening where I was, presumably in sync with millions across the Country, was an aspect of British culture I feel excluded from the official ceremony, but one nevertheless integral to our social heritage.
Interestingly, the choice of Heineken as the ‘Official Beer of the Olympics’ has been taken to task in Parliament, with MPs arguing that the choice of a Dutch beer is ‘totally at odds with the strong emphasis on British character and identity’ and that the official beer ‘could and should have included a British beer’ given our strong tradition of brewing (and drinking). True, but I’d also argue that an official beer of the Olympics is surely a contradiction in terms. Anyway, during the evening and watching my immediate crowd, the opening proved to be an occasion for celebration, and the yields of our brewing heritage were certainly enjoyed by many. We were sitting next to an especially rowdy group of brewing connoisseurs. I know this, because the excitement of São Tomé and Príncipe being called during the competitors’ procession prompted one member of the party to pick up a yellow inflatable ball, and kick it into the crowd, unwittingly hitting a toddler in the face. All part of the fun though, hey?
You, like me, might have considered the opening ceremony as a comedy-free event, or in any case, an event where comedy might only transpire by mistake. This came to fruition during the Korean flag cock-up and my favourite Olympic moment so far: ‘Jeremy Hunt Almost Hits Woman With Bell End’.
Basically, I didn’t want us to look
like Jeremy twattish, and before the ceremony began I was feeling understandably worried. The negative press surrounding the games implied that Britain couldn’t organise a piss up in a (Heineken) brewery, and as the ceremony began with farmyard livestock standing around doing nothing and rain spitting on the crowd, my worries became more entrenched. I shouldn’t have been concerned however, because on came Harry Enfield to save the day. Or so I thought, until I was politely informed that it was actually Kenneth Branagh. During the Industrial Revolution segment I especially liked how they always looked as though they were on the cusp of some Diversity-esque dance routine, and how it was Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel doing Caliban. Blates my next Halloween costume.
There was actually, much comedy gold (LOL!) throughout. For example the actual Queen, playing the actual Queen. Nobody has considered yet however, whether it might actually have been Branagh as Kingdom Brunel doing Cailban playing Helen Mirren impersonating the Queen. Possibly. The parachute entrance into the Olympic Stadium with Daniel Craig was precisely how she should have started her Diamond Jubilee river jaunt. Then, it might not have been so overwhelmingly dull. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the actual Queen doing her own stunts, but then nobody does these days for insurance reasons. In fact, It may have actually been a stunt man dressed as Kenneth Branagh playing Isambard Kingdom Brunel playing Caliban because of the danger posed by the Olympic ring sparks.
Later on, during homage to the NHS a massive inflatable Lord Voldemort was attacked by multiple Mary Poppinses (Poppinsi?). I personally, have always thought she was the creepier of the two. My main reasons being that she could defy gravity, and made the children in her care take suspicious ‘supplements’ masquerading as lime cordial before taking them on ‘trips’. And why did she need every second Tuesday off? Nonetheless, after they’d got rid of Voldemort and The Child Catcher, Mike Oldfield played ‘In dulci jubilo’ which in my opinion is a proper tune that should be whipped out more frequently than just Christmas. So I was pleased about that.
We were also treated to some Mr Bean action, which was my favourite part of the evening’s festivities. The Comedy Journal recently shared some classic Rowan Atkinson Live, and I think that Atkinson’s Mr Bean really encapsulates a British sense of not taking itself too seriously. In my opinion, this light hearted approach was the best avenue for the ceremony to take. I only really have one issue with the opening ceremony, and that was in the ‘youth’ section with all the texting and facebook: how was the guy ringing and texting the girl saying he’d found her phone, and how did they have a conversation over the phone WHEN HE HAD HER PHONE? Explain me that one Boyle. Also, when the Queen opened the games it really was like The Reaping.
Nevertheless, overall, I thought the opening ceremony was a triumph. It was watchable, inclusive and funny. It showed British humour, spirit and passion for literature, film and music. I sense that more comedy gold (LOLLL!) is afoot over the next few weeks, including things you aren’t meant to find funny (for example: false starts, the male gymnast’s crotches, rhythmic gymnastics, weightlifter’s faces, and hopefully more Jeremy Hunt commentary errors). I personally can’t wait.