London has raised its hat to the world and a new UK has emerged.
These Olympics have been an Olivia Newton-John moment for the British – the stiff upper lip was locked into the cupboard as London ignited with music, confidence, competition and a collection of the most charismatic athletes the world could ever hope for.
Many of us have spent the Olympic fortnight on our sofas weeping and cheering to the BBC coverage. We have cried for athletes we never even knew existed and been overwhelmed by the grace of the victorious. We have wondered at the crowds and enthusiasm, stayed up late for Gabby Logan’s underdogs, and been astonished that London’s public transport system has coped with all the crowds.
The fortnight has exhausted and re-energised us all. Ordinary brilliance has been everywhere: free red ice lollies at Waterloo Station; convoys of purple buses linking railway stations to Eton Dorney; uniformed troops at ease on bag search duty; and the capital’s mayor cheerfully stranded on a zipwire in the Olympic Park.
Looking back it is hard to spot where everything changed. It seems only yesterday that we were grumbling and determined that a fiasco was on the way. The BBC’s comedy 2012 only confirmed our delicious pessimism. The weather was sky to sky rain, transport staff were threatening strikes, G4S had forgotten to employ enough security staff, and US Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney was about to visit.
Perhaps that was the moment – Mitt Romney telling Britain there were ‘disconcerting’ gaps in the country’s Olympic preparations – that really lit the 2012 flame.
Families have travelled miles to attend the Olympics. If they have not been able to get into the venues they have crowded around the big screens and the long distance routes. They have cheered and championed and come home knowing that they have slotted into history – they have been part of the London 2012 Olympics and have kept the city alive.
Some corners of London became mini encampments for other nations to showcase their hospitality. The Danes were based in St Katherine’s dock with a Viking ship, Lego windmill and a constant stream of Carlsberg – home comforts to ward off the misery of defeat by Sweden in the men’s handball.
Here are a few links to short videos of the British moments that will shine on beyond 2012:
* Mo Farah’s second gold of the 2012 Olympics;
* Mr Bean‘s orchestral interludes;
* Katherine Grainger’s golden win after three Olympics of silver;
* Eric Idle’s take on stuff that happens;
* the dancing second 2012 gold for Dujardin and her horse Valegro;
* the Matt cartoon for showjumping gold.