Like the five rings of fireworks, resembling the Olympic logo, that descended on Danny Boyle’s stage-managed opening ceremony of the 2012 London edition of the sporting extravaganza, the limelight over the next few days is on Great Britain.
It is not just the athletes who will strive for the motto, ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius but England will like to position themselves as a nation poised to grow ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’.
It is also a stage for them to reiterate their culture, their history and image. If that is the context, the Olympic ceremony was a watershed moment, a lot of promise and a symbol of the challenge the country faces, if they consider it one, that is.
The ceremony summed up the past well for everything British: from rural Britain to the Industrial Revolution, Big Ben and Thames river to the London Tube, a cricket match to David Beckham, symphony music and Beatles to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and Mr Bean, and even charitable causes of the children, the future.
But the whackiest and most pertinent was James Bond 007 escorting the Queen in a helicopter and Her Majesty jumping out of the bird and landing on the ceremony.
God Save The Queen is still the national anthem but nobody sang when she did it.
Everyone knew it was a visual trick but there are no illusions about the image of the British, the ones with a stiff upper lip.
The Queen may have agreed to the daredevilry but the rest of her demeanour during the proceedings was back to the typical style of being … English.
An article in The National nicely sums up the dilemma of the hosts of the Conservative Games, poised to fly but unable to shrug off the frown, grin and enjoy it.
The opening ceremony was Boyle’s show but everything must have been approved and approved all over again by the ruling mandarins in the corridors of power, not just Her Majesty itself.
That reflected in the media too. The Guardian called the opening “madcap, surreal and moving.” The Independent put it as “beautiful pace and superb imagery.”
A democratic country which is still connected to monarchy but cannot resist the temptation of throwing caution to the winds and soar high. It iS a call every British citizen has to make and ask the inner self, what is the true nature of being English and if it is still comfortable of retaining the stiff upper lip?
Rather can it afford to?