It started majestically, theatrically and topically, with a whistle stop tour of British history — and Bradley Wiggins in his yellow jersey. Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony did its best to encompass all that is best about Britain, bar actually offering spectators a full English on the way out.
It flew from Jerusalem to Neverland, from Mary Poppins to James Bond. And if we weren’t already besotted enough with The Queen in her Jubilee year, she won our hearts forever by participating in a sketch with Mr Bond, James Bond, complete with ‘parachute entry’ to the stadium.
True to his film-making roots, Danny Boyle played every patriotic, nostalgic card in the book — even Oh Danny Boy (or was that ‘Oh Danny Boyle’?) and could not resist snazzy cinematic devices and a montage of great movie kisses.
The best of it came in the first hour: the mesmerising metamorphosis from War Horse England to industrial Britain, and Kenneth Brannagh in best Shakespearian mode. While gilding the lily were the injections of brilliant British humour whenever matters seemed in danger of becoming too profound. I won’t list them — they’re the bits you’ll be talking about over breakfast. But Rowan Atkinson deserves his own medal, even if it’s only chocolate.
The prolonged tribute to modern East London (apparently it’s all about text messaging, dating and rapping. And God, let’s face it, it is) may have hacked off the over sixties, despite the great dancing that accompanied it.
The prize for the weirdest moment probably goes to that tribute to the NHS — perhaps incorporated (successfully) to help persuade Prime Minister Dave to double the opening and closing ceremony budget to £81million. Yes, I know the NHS does brilliant work, but suggesting each sick child is given their own luminous duvet and ensuite Mary Poppins isn’t entirely realistic.
And then, for me, surreally, I spotted my mate Charlie Huins on the screen, beating hell out of a drum as the Aderbaijanis marched in. Charlie, how did you wangle that? (Charlie, I should explain, is not a drummer but an ear, nose and throat surgeon. Perhaps it tied in with that NHS tribute?!)
Then it was the loooooooooong march of the athletes, enlivened only by a bit of rider spotting (Lucinda Fredericks with the Aussies, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson carrying the Swedish flag) by which point everyone had rather lost the will to live.
The Queen looked ready for bed and the Duke, I swear, had nodded off by the time the Arctic Monkeys (it should at least have been Coldplay) doubtless woke him up. Jacques Rogge has the public speaking skills of a womble, and I didn’t find it edifying to involve a very frail Mohammed Ali.
No-one really had the energy left for Paul McCartney’s Hey Jude (and I don’t just say that because he’s an anti). But I’m still glad I stayed up for the bitter end.
The Olympic flame, formed of over 200 copper petals was the crowning triumph — with every great living Olympian involved in the Olympic Flame’s final passage (including skater Christopher Dean on his birthday).
The verdict? Danny’s done well. Buy that man a beer.