So we have the first look at the opening scene of the opening ceremony. Cows and pigs, a cricket pitch, a selection of music events and some rain clouds – all set in a field of green. That’s Britain, for you! Such is the vision of the artistic director, Danny Boyle.

“He’s Irish, isn’t he?” was Grumpy’s initial reservation.

“You’re thinking of Roddy Doyle” I said. “It’s Danny Boyle, they’re different”.

Grumpy swiftly moved on, “What did he do?”

“Shallow Grave. Slumdog Millionaire” I ventured.

“Oh” said Grumpy. “Do you think he’s being ironic?”

Boyle maintains that there will be humour, yes. The British always have to have humour. The shame is, no-one else gets it. The London sequence in the closing ceremony was funny (no – it was!) but only if you saw it from the perspective of someone who thinks naff things are good. This is not a characteristic we Brits share with the rest of the world. If you saw it from their perspective, then you’d cry.

This is one of the things that troubles me about the extravaganza that will be Britain’s version of the opening ceremony is less than two months’ time. The self-deprecating humour that we seem to not to be able to shake off must surely be a legacy of knowing that we are a little too blessed with the world’s resources for it to be quite nice. We had to brush off the spoils of the empire with a shrug, “It’s just us Brits, nothing to worry about!”

That only makes sense, however, if we needed to pretend that we weren’t so unfairly privileged as all that. But the world has changed. We are in an age of austerity. We are once again a very small island, with only a few memories of past glory to hang on to and attract the tourists. Poking fun at ourselves risks making us look stupid. But maybe it will be fine. LOL!


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