A friend of mine wrote an excellent blogpost that explained beautifully how Danny Boyle could make me feel amazingly proud to be British last night, when that’s an emotion I so rarely experience. (I have a strange relationship with Britishness; it’s only when Americans started taking the piss out of my spelling on Flickr that I realised how fiercely proud I can be of my British heritage. And it wasn’t even the word gaol!) And, after celebrating the best bits of British history from the 19th century onwards, the question of who would light the (beautiful) Olympic cauldron was solved by choosing no big name, but by seven top British athletes each nominating a promising young athlete to the task. Genuinely moving and inspirational, all of it.
It’s definitely worth reading Mili’s post, which really does make sense of why I can feel simultaneously ashamed of my country and proud of it. But she also linked to a photo of Danny Boyle’s words from last night’s programme, which I definitely felt bore repeating:
At some point in their histories, most nations experience a revolution that changes everything about them. The United Kingdom had a revolution that changed the whole of human existence.
In 1709 Abraham Darby smelted iron in a blast furnace, using coke. And so began the Industrial Revolution. Out of Abraham’s Shropshire furnace flowed molten metal. Out of his genius flowed the mills, looms, engines, weapons, railways, ships, cities, conflicts and prosperity that built the world we live in.
In November 1990 another Briton sparked another revolution — equally far-reaching — a revolution we’re still experiencing. The digital revolution was sparked by Tim Berners-Lee‘s amazing gift to the world — the World Wide Web. This, he said, is for everyone.We welcome you to an Olympic Opening Ceremony for everyone. A ceremony that celebrates the creativity, eccentricity, daring and openness of the British genius, by harnessing the genius, creativity, eccentricity, daring and openness of modern London.
You’ll hear the words of our great poets — Shakespeare, Blake and Milton. You’ll hear the glorious noise of our unrivalled pop culture. You’ll see characters from our great children’s literature — Peter Pan and Captain Hook, Mary Poppins, Voldemort, Cruella de Vil. You’ll see ordinary families and extraordinary athletes. Dancing nurses, singing children and amazing special effects.
But we hope, too, that through all the noise and excitement you’ll glimpse a single golden thread of purpose — the idea of Jerusalem — of the better world, the world of real freedom and true equality, a world that can be built through the prosperity of industry, through the caring nation that built the welfare state, through the joyous energy of popular culture, through the dream of universal communication. A belief that we can build Jerusalem. And that it will be for everyone.
Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) July 27, 2012
Beautiful. Photos and quoted text copyright © 2007–2012 The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited and are used without permission for the purpose of criticism and review under section 30(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.