The Olympic Closing Ceremony
Shall I make 12 points about the closing ceremony, just like I did with the opening of London Olympics? Perhaps I will, but this time I won't be worrying so much about striking the right balance. Why not? Because after the Olympics we are a nation of winners!
1. The power of print
This country is one of the biggest in the world in terms of word processing.
The printed word dramatically took centre stage at the closing ceremony
2. Walking the walk
Brits are really good at 'talking the talk', but recently haven't been so great at 'walking the walk' or rather 'working the work'. The London Olympics, I dare to say, have changed it. Hard work and determined effort are once again held in high esteem. Our champion athletes have proven that in two to four years one can make the enormous progression from a beginner to an Olympic champion.
There was a moment at the beginning of the closing ceremony - when Churchill appeared on top of Big Ben and recited famous verses from Shakespeare's The Tempest (as opposed to Brunel in the opening ceremony), when I thought: "Politicians are seizing the show again, and again words will prevail over actions", but then...
4. Sportspeople and celebrities
The stage appearance of Henry, Prince of Wales - aka Prince Harry - as a representative of the Royal Family, along with the Head of the IOC, was also quite symbolic. Harry is one of the sportier royals. One of the things that has happened during the Olympics is that winning sportspeople, at least to some extent, have also become 'celebrities' and role models along with mostly decadent rock stars.
5. Let's rock!
Talking about rock stars being the ultimate role models for young people in this country for many years (that "I'll wake up rich and famous" attitude), one might observe that the easiest resolution between 'talking the talk' and 'walking the walk' or between words and actions is a song. Therefore the mighty word-processing industry in this country quite naturally turned into the mighty pop industry. The closing party either rationally or subliminally was built around that. It was a British rock party.
6. Communities reunited
The Olympics have finished with what the Queen's Diamond Jubilee first introduced to the country's mood - the feel-good factor. The 'can do' mentality shown by so many winning British athletes whose names were previously unknown was echoed by successes in providing security, infrastructure and transport. The city and the country came together to make the Games a success.
7. Games makers
Volunteers - 70,000 of them were working free of charge, putting the shows together, guiding and stewarding people and taking part in ensuring security. Even at the closing party they were softly 'kettling' thousands of sportsmen into the spaces of a giant Union Jack spread over the stadium, to expose them regardless of their creed, colour, gender or age to one and a half hours of non-stop British rock... But even that was the behaviour of winners... By the way at that particular moment a lookalike Elton John appeared on top of Big Ben.
8. Stomping to fitness
British modern dance is an even more radical resolution between words and actions, interpreting song in space without words, but in pure action. The dance group Stomp, deliberately mixing up London's 'rush hour' with 'brush hour', swept away all the words and newspapers. Are we changing our attitude from 'talking the talk' to 'walking the walk'? Dance is closer to sport than song. I don't know if we are witnessing a renaissance in dance, but I'm pretty sure that stadiums, pools and gyms will be under strain in the near future. I can already see signs of it in my local fitness club.
9. There are no superhumans
Athletes entered the stadium not through separate gates, but from among the spectators. We love the word 'interactivity', but here it was even deeper than that. It showed that athletes are not superhuman, that they can walk out from among ordinary, everyday people. We still love to see a moment of weakness even in the winners. The collage of the best Olympic moments was all about tears - tears of joy and despair.
10. Can you look away?
A paragraph about British rock. It was represented in its full glory - from the teenagers of One Direction to the grandpas of The Who; from dazzlingly vivid Jessie J to occultly revived Freddy Mercury.
Roger Daltrey of the band the Who is a grandad several times over
11. Goodbye, world
Nonetheless, although British rock (occasionally interrupted by British fashion or British multiculturalism), was a bit excessive for my taste, inasmuch as we have exposed our achievements to the world this time we were also much more accepting and open to the rest of the world. Representatives from other countries were shown in TV collages and the marathon winners' medal ceremony was all about it and the next Olympic city - Rio's short and beautiful presentation confirmed to us that we have changed over the course of these two weeks. Wiggins has changed us, Ennis has changed us, Mo has changed us, Murray has changed us, Bolt has changed us, Rudisha has changed us, the Games have changed us...
12. From words to actions
It was great to see the last act of the show while the flames of the London Olympics were being extinguished. It was a ballet dance in which Darcey Bussell was flying like a phoenix reborn from the flames. Ballet is not the strongest art form in Britain. If you want to see world-class ballet you go to different countries and different theatres. But that was a symbol of a new challenge. It was showing that this country is ready for new challenges, from words to actions, and that is maybe the biggest legacy of the London Olympics.