MY London Olympics began with a blonde of indeterminate age, a brandy voice and big boobs who interviewed important people against a background of Tower Bridge.
Why Sky News chose her on such an auspicious occasion, only they knew.
When I switched on, she was asking fatuous questions of former prime minister Tony Blair, who was somewhere near the Olympic stadium. What did he think of arrangements so far? Apparently he thought that, apart from a couple of minor hiccups, it had all gone amazingly well. After all, it was he who had overseen Britain’s successful bid for the Games.
Then she popped the question she had obviously been saving up for last: “Aren’t you sorry you’re not still in charge?”
Well, of course he was sorry.|Everyone knew that. With a forced smile he suggested that wasn’t the point, before repeating his belief that it had all gone amazingly well. But wouldn’t he have enjoyed still being in power? persisted Brandy Voice.
“Ask me that another time!” he replied, now clearly anxious to end the interview.
Mercifully she was replaced later in the programme, which delighted in showing us again and again how Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt rang a bell right off its handle, visibly relieved that he hadn’t injured any onlookers. They hoped this wasn’t an unlucky omen. The North Koreans had |already been insulted at having the |South Korean flag mistakenly flown to honour one of their own athletes, |forcing Prime Minister David Cameron to make a personal apology.
And a banner welcoming Arabic contestants featured the Arabic script upside-down.
But the three-hour opening spectacle made up for it all. At first I could hardly believe it. It was like one big British leg-pull. Hundreds of people dressed like 19th century peasants emerging from a hole in the ground at the top of a hill that looked like a miniature Glastonbury Tor, before zigzagging their way down.
Then the roll-on lawns were rolled up, smoke-polluting chimneys rose from the ground, and a bunch of bewhiskered Victorian gents in top hats marched hither and thither performing various rowing, digging and rope-pulling motions, signifying what could only be rowing, digging and rope-pulling.
At one point we glimpsed a ship being pulled into the arena. The Titanic, perhaps?
I stopped watching before Mr Bean brought the house down with his version of Chariots of Fire, which everyone tells me was a real hoot, so for me the highlight was the Queen being escorted down the corridors of Buckingham Palace by 007, while her corgis respectfully made way for Daniel Craig.
I still can’t quite believe she agreed to play ball (or in the James Bond context, hardball) and at the time thought it must have been one of her lookalikes.
I commend Her Majesty, at the age of 86, for not parachuting out of a helicopter in person and allowing a dummy to do it on her behalf.
The National Health Service followed, with hospital staff jiving and kids doing somersaults on their beds. There’s never been another Olympic opening ceremony remotely like it. And probably never will be again.
No other nation has that sense of humour, or the willingness to use such an occasion to laugh so spectacularly and engagingly at itself.