Brand GB – a good games

 
The Olympic Cauldron burns in front of the Union Jack and Olympic flag

Ask foreigners to describe Britain and they will often reflect on a people obsessed with their past and resigned to their fate. We have a reputation for reserved introspection.

The Diamond Jubilee presented a familiar British face to a watching world - street parties and formal ceremonial held, as might be seen as traditional, in the rain.

It was "red and gilt Britain", as one US journalist based here described it to me. And we are very good at it.

The expectation was that the Olympics would be conducted within the same colour palette. A London games, it was widely assumed, would resound to the echoes of past glories - a retrospective of an ancient island people.

But almost from the moment the clang of a giant golden bell announced the opening ceremony, it was clear that stereotypes were being challenged. The history was there. So was the Queen. But the tone was optimistic and self-deprecating - a portrait of a country aware of its shortcomings but surprisingly confident about its future.

And the games began - draped in dazzling pink and purple, orange and poppy-red. It was an audacious statement. London 2012 would be determinedly contemporary.

Olympics coverage online

Olympics images

For a moment the country held its breath. We had been warned to expect travel chaos, security meltdown and organisational incompetence. When a coach driver got lost bringing athletes to the Olympic Park, it seemed as though Britain was lining up for at least a bronze in bungling.

But it didn't happen. In fact, the teams of pandemonium correspondents assigned around the capital were forced to kick their heels or quickly develop an understanding of the finer points of dressage and rhythmic gymnastics.

Let's be clear. Putting on an Olympics is a massively complex task - what is known in the jargon as a "mega-project". It requires collaboration and planning on a breath-taking scale. And just one oversight or error has the capacity to destroy a host city's reputation and damage a country's image.

What we have seen over the past fortnight is an amazing success story. Far from exposing mediocrity and incompetence, the games have challenged lazy assumptions about what kind of country we are - not just to foreigners but to ourselves.

Each time we look at the medal table, we are encouraged to believe that we still have the capacity to punch above our weight in the world. Each time the TV cameras swoop over the smiling crowds in the Olympic venues, we are reminded that we can match anyone when it comes to putting on a show.

There is a danger of becoming giddy, like a love-struck teenager who assumes too much from a fortnight of summer adventure. The sugar-rush of sweet success is likely to be swiftly followed by the sickener of remembering just what economic and social challenges lie ahead for this country.

But let's not forget what some people predicted would happen: an embarrassing and chaotic two weeks during which all the flaws of our declining nation would be exposed.

Brand GB would have been horribly undermined and this country's reputation and prospects damaged for decades.

As it is, we have presented ourselves as competent, successful, confident and fun. To paraphrase Brucie - it's been a good games, my love, good games.

 
Mark Easton Article written by Mark Easton Mark Easton Home editor

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 594.

    How many here actually contributed anything to these games (apart from cheering inanely at the TV screen or just being born here). So why the "proud" to be British references and the constant harping on what "we" achieved? Really? We?

    You contributed? Be proud. You didn't? Then be a sport : stop giving yourself medals you don't deserve

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 593.

    592. So we've a good ole boy posting on here tonight then! Well yee hawww!

    Now best get back to your ranch to polish your gun - may need to shoot some varmint!

    You're really not helping the global image of Americans, you know! I'm sure you don't care since you're a good ole boy!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 592.

    Wrong again 591.I do like sports.Just not your kind.I like baseball, football (the way we play it here), ice hockey, roller derby, I do not like olympic sports or Euro sports. I'm no fan of competitive bicycle riding, ping poing. dressage, weight lifting, or swimming.Those are best left as passtimes.

    I made my point.Britain wasted bilions it desperately needs & now tries futilely to justify it

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 591.

    587. Well you're the only American I've ever come across that doesn't like sport!

    Or is just GB that you don't like?

    Not that anybody will care much either way, but I wonder if you could enlighten us on the point you are trying to make as it's not very clear!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 590.

    588 It was only one bomb and a rather small one at that! That's the problem with you Brits, you make a bid deal over nothing. A mountain out of a mole hill.

    What will BBC talk about now that it's over? Will they go back to reporting their news...at least after their usual fashion such as it is?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 589.

    Pity the Red cross of England was replaced by the blue cross of scotland , I doubt that many English going to the games even noticed .Even the closing ceremony was all blue and white I think the scots and Alex Salmon must have been very pleased .

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 588.

    @586 Re: pulling off an Olympics without a hitch, just one word (given that you're banging on about the US): Atlanta.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 587.

    585What gave you the idea I'm from Australia?My moniker is Suilerua, not australis forwards, backwards, sideways, or upside-down.I was born in the USA.That's a matter of luck.There's no reason to be proud of luck, it just happened.On the other hand, people like Rupert Murdoch can be proud they were smart enough to emigrate here and became citizens.Some risk their lives trying, some even lose them.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 586.

    Pulling off these games without a major hitch shouldn't be a big deal for just about any nation.Greece did it and they're no superpower.I'm sure Andorra would be proud as a new father with his first born if it landed a hot air baloon at the summit of Mount Blanc.It's all in proportion to the size and power of the nation.It's not like Britain landed something the size of a car in a crater on Mars

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 585.

    584. So, you're a disgruntled Aussie living in the US.

    Well if it's true that you're in the US, you may not be fully aware of the joy these Games have brought to us here in GB, winning over most of the skeptics along the way.

    And most commentary I've seen from around the world seems to be positive, so I guess it's just you and a small minority of miserable people who didn't enjoy it. Ho hum.

  • Comment number 584.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 583.

    @580 I thought the cost was £9bn. A lot, yes, but significantly less than the figure you give. Could it have been better spent? It could have been spent differently but I doubt it would have generated the sheer joy that much of the country (excepting people like yourself, of course) experienced. That's a feeling most people seem to have and as this is a democracy you'll just have to deal with it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 582.

    581. Balconybar. Indeed! Suilerua, nibs and a few others insist on coming on these boards and revealing their true character and boy am I glad I don't know them.

    The Games have been great for GB with massive support and enthusiasm from most of the population. These miseries are NOT representative of Brits as a whole!

    Of course, there's a fair chance they're not Brits but disgruntled Aussies...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 581.

    Suilerua, what a miserable whingeing soul you must be. I can tell you first-hand that here in the US and all around the world everyone adored the games not only as a marvellous sporting spectacle, but a wonderful advert for London and the UK. It's never been done better and what's more it looked and felt fabulous. Business? Who knows but Britain will continue to be the place the world wants to be.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 580.

    Brand London, what a joke.I'll bet 1 business deal won't ever be made where London makes any money that would not have been made without the Olympics....except maybe for a program about the Olympics. Ho hum, it was no better than a lot of other olympics. Better than some, worse than others. Does anyone outside the UK really care? In the UK a lot of people could have benefitted from 25Bn

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 579.

    The best part of the OG for me was the way that so many of the swimmers (the sport I watched most) smiled no matter what medal they got. There seemed to be a genuine feeling of good will to those who did better or worse once races where over. This is how sport should be, some were disappointed with their results but on the whole it did not stop them congratulating the winners, nice to see!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 578.

    Well guys and girls posting positive messages of how much you enjoyed these Games (as I did), I hope you're ready for the onslaught of repetitive messages later from JCisJD advising us all of the global banking crisis!

    Overall, I truly believe the Games have enhanced GB's standing in the world, and I, for one, am pleased about that.

    Well done to competitors, spectators and organisers; great job!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 577.

    I'm a Brit living in Canada, watched the coverage on Sunday with my kids (2 UK and 1 Canadian born) and all of us were immensely proud to be British. My Wife is Welsh, I'm a mixture, but we were all proud Brits! Team GB did a fantastic job, if the by-product was "distracting" from the economy as some have said then so be it!

    For two weeks the nation was happy and proud, hopefully it continues!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 576.

    Britain had already won the gold medal for carping, winging and whining about these games, an endless marathon of negativity as only the British can conjure up. And of course you get to prove yourselves all wrong in the end: great games, great achievement and something even a cynical Brit can be unabashedly proud of. Maybe you can stay happy?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 575.

    I make no bones about being hugely patriotic and LOVED the flag waving and sheer indulgence in shouting about the pride of my country.I see nothing wrong with that at all, but equally respect and enjoyed other countries great performances and success,its called sportsmanship. Anyone who didn't enjoy the games is a cynic and to be honest i'm glad i don't know them and their sad lives!

 

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