“Spectacular but inclusive” was Danny Boyle’s hope for his directed opening of the London Olympics, last night, also talking poor little Britain acknowledging it’s real place in the world. Are we fourth, sixth, or last, in the great global rat race? But so Mr Boyle threatened to accept a natural Brit mediocrity too, as gloomy but reliable as the Wimbledon-style weather. So what did we get, out of all that secrecy, as rain threatened play?
Well, if you think we’re nuts at Phoenix Ark Press, welcome to Boyle’s World, because it’s truly balmy! As bucolic farmers and fulsome milk maids wafted about, below a mock-up of Glastonbury Tor, in an Olympian version of the Wombles meets the Hobbit, the rings, my precious, the rings, enter lovely lovie Kenny Branagh, dressed as a mix of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Abraham Lincoln, but quoting the Tempest – “Be not afraid, the isle is full of noises”. We were terrified, not only of the mixing metaphors.
If the Tempest is a tour around Shakespeare’s generative, magical imagination, dark and light, this was a tour de force around Danny Boyle’s rock n’ roll head. With that oddly holy British mysticism, and a beautifully sung-out Jerusalem, the Ents (Tolkien’s talking trees) of our green and pleasant lands, were then uprooted into the dark, satanic mills of industrialism. Before it bowed to a great many talented Britains, put WorldWide Webster Sir Tim Burners Lee at its digital heart, and exploded into export UK, (the Queen was not so much amused, Mr Bond, as just bemused), in a human and pixellated extravaganza.
If the Olympics gave up being apolitical with the Spartans, this also put Danny Boyle’s politics at its absolute heart, blazing the NHS at its centre, with a lovely presence of kids and rocking docs and nurses. But if everything is really political, (psst, don’t tell anyone), then god bless Danny Boyle, snogs and all, because all you do need is love. Perhaps every nation on earth will now race to offer a global vision, and solution. Not only was it inclusive, and so spectacular that it was astonishing, it was warm, witty and in the end as moving as the cross-country torch procession.
Private Eye may have a field day with snatched glimpses of Charles and Camilla having a snigger, as Seb looked embarrassed (God damn those cameras everywhere) or David Beckham looking like a new Gillette ad down the Thames, and in times of austerity the bread and circuses element may have bankrupted us all, (is there such a thing as a triple jerk recession?), but you can forgive it all for the fun, talent, the human world vision and the magnificent Olympic crucible of flame. Lord Coe’s and that French bloke’s speeches was not half bad either.
So enter the glowing beauty of human faces, bodies too, and rainbows of colour, in what it’s about now, the sportsmen and women of the world, inclusively, if they are not shot when they get home. As a roar went up for the US, our heart-strings broke, but two hundred Nations made and were soaking in the warmth of a Games that is already palpable, and if this is London’s third Olympics, it is the first where every country has included a woman athlete. Maybe London and Britain have come home. It’s all those competitors though who will really tell us how well we do it over these two weeks.
Britain may have sunk the good ship Britannia, stupidly, handed London last summer to a gang of nasty yobs, aspiring to ugly gold lame hoodies, and mired itself in awful Press and City scandals, but mad dogs and Englishmen are still alive and well, (actually the most ancient Britains were Welsh – the Braethon). But above all it proved this weird island race is not only one of vision, but a race of genius and lunatic artists, as brilliant as Phoenix Ark Press. It’s after this that we’ll see if anyone can wake up to real inclusivity, get Banks lending, not robbing or fixing, and solve the growing reality gaps. Is the digital revolution truly connecting us though, or turning us into weird fantasists? “And I believe, that something so simple as rock and roll will save us all.” Well, you never know, Danny boy! So over to you, Olympians. Burn athletes, live the dream, for yourselves, for your countries, for the world!
PS just to enjoy a bit of the home advantage and going for Gold too, Phoenix Ark Press have now appointed the sporting thriller The Godhead Game by David Clement-Davies unofficial read of the London Olympics!
It does not quite kidnap David Beckham, but it does send kidnapped sportsmen to play a murderous game in the rainforests, and there will not be any left if we don’t wake up, while it employs the theme of this year’s Mayan ‘end of the world’, to look at the state of Capitalism and the human spirit. The London countdown is over, but the world countdown to December has begun. Available in exclusive if reluctant digitality from Amazon.comClick here