Maybe it’s who I hang out with. Or maybe it’s who I see on my social network feeds. Maybe there’s a whole negative vibe still out there, but from where I’m sitting the vibe of this country has really been lifted by hosting the Olympic games.
Look, I was a bit cynical myself in the lead up to the opening night. Seeing the missile launchers on the tops of buildings in the London, the ticketing issues, and the general idea that this country’s just a little too crap to host something of this scale and it not be a flop. But to be honest all of that evaporated when I sat down with friends over a few beers and watched the opening ceremony. It was quite simply jaw-droppingly amazing. I have to say that from my perspective it seemed mainly for us brits, and I think for good reason.
For a long time now there has been the idea that we are a bit crap at this kind of thing. We have also been on the receiving end of a few jokes about our attitude and lifestyles (some of these jokes have been quite warranted to be honest). However, what this opening ceremony did for me was to remind me just what an amazing impact this little island has had on the worlds of culture, literature and music. And that our wonderful NHS system (which is still the envy of much of the world) is to be celebrated. It also acted as a little reminder to the rest of the world watching just what this nation has achieved and what it stands for. The parts with Rowan Atkinson, pogoing weird punks, and James Bond and the Queen parachuting into the arena also demonstrated our love of not taking ourselves too seriously. I sat, watched, laughed, cried, but I also knew that it would be alright. We aren’t crap, we are amazing. This island is amazing.
Since then the media has been awash with coverage of the games. Almost all day on the BBC, then the opening stories on the news, and so far it has been a endless flow of positivity. I’m sure there are still bad news stories happening all over the world, but for this two weeks the top stories on the news have been tales of achievement, of successes, of people overcoming obstacles, and fulfilling dreams. This has got to be good for the psyche of this country. It’s certainly doing me good.
Instead of people who have become famous for appearing on a reality TV show, and then milking a career of dubious notoriety, we are watching people who have dedicated their lives to their crafts and skills, and succeeding. Instead of seeing sports people who are so obviously led by the promise of huge sums of money, we are seeing sports people representing their country who are led by the idea of success. If only a few of the young people watching turn their gaze away from the celebs in junk mags, and notice a better way, a way of dedication and talent creating success, then what a gift that would be!
My fear is that next week, once the games are over, our TV scheduling will once more bow under the weight of reality TV shows, that the headlines will stop being about positive successes and achievements, and will return to death and depressing news. I hope, maybe in vein, that some of this positivity within the nation will be noticed by some media executives, and that they will think that maybe we could carry this on. We shall see. But in the mean time I’m loving having the games here, and the effect they are having on my brothers and sisters on this magical and wonderful Isle.