So finally – it begins.
Last night’s opening ceremony of the 30th Olympic Games was, as expected, a terrific mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous, the eccentric and the mainstream, the joyful and the laughable. Clearly it amazed, entertained, surprised and delighted, as well as annoyed, frustrated and irritated. More of which, later.
We now have two weeks of non-stop sportsfest – a veritable orgy of multi-national mingling and competition. Amazingly the sun is shining and there’s warm weather at last in this appalling summer of rain and cloud.
It’s beginning to sink in with a lot of people that this is a very important time for Britain, for England, and for London – especially East London. The eyes of the world are focused on a four-yearly phenomenon, and also on a nation, a city and a culture. What are they going to see?
Richard Williams in the Guardian put it like this:
The Olympics: London’s chance to shine
London 2012 will hold up a mirror to the face of the capital, but what will we learn about the city and ourselves?
The Games hold up a mirror to the face of every host city, and Londoners wonder, with some degree of anxiety, what they will learn about themselves and their city. Does it remain a place of traditional generosity and civility or is its social fabric being torn apart by the widening gulf between the super-rich and the invisible poor?
We shall see.
Today’s men’s cycling road race took place over several hours, and unfolded across vast swathes of the capital city and the countryside beyond Hampton Court Palace – all of which was lovingly shown on panoramic helicopter shots of the landscape, the places and the people.
There are those who hope that the rest of the world will learn that this is an amazing country full of cultural riches plus warm, decent and welcoming people. Others worry that the worst elements of our society will bring shame and disgrace on the city and the nation. Some of which has already happened.
The opening ceremony, coordinated by film director Danny Boyle, had wonderful moments of incredible spectacle and the kind of imagination and artistry which shows the human race is capable of breathtaking and awesome creativity.
Unfortunately, however, we were also reminded that living amongst us are Oxford-educated neanderthals and ignoramuses – like Tory MP Aidan Burley.
Here’s how the Guardian reported his behaviour:
Olympics opening ceremony was ‘multicultural crap’, Tory MP tweets
Conservative MP Aidan Burley, who was sacked as a ministerial aide for attending a Nazi-themed stag party, rails against Danny Boyle’s work on Twitter
by Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent
David Cameron will face pressure to remove the Tory whip from the Conservative MP Aidan Burley after he tweeted that the Olympics opening ceremony was “multicultural crap”.
Burley, who was sacked as a ministerial aide last year after he took part in a Nazi-themed stag party in the French Alps, described Danny Boyle’s work as “the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen”.
The row erupted just after 10pm when Burley tweeted twice within a few minutes as the Olympic athletes started to enter the stadium after Boyle’s staging.
In his first tweet Burley wrote: “The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?”
A minute later Burley tweeted: “Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multicultural crap. Bring back Red Arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!”
The tweets will be toxic for the prime minister who has been praised for his handling of the preparations of the Olympics. Burley’s outburst will fuel suspicions that some members of the Conservative party have unreconstructed views which fail to recognise the pivotal contribution to society made by black and minority ethnic Britons.
Burley was sacked as parliamentary private secretary to the transport secretary Justine Greening in 2011 after he attended a Nazi-themed stag party. The party involved Nazi salutes. One guest was filmed by the Mail on Sunday raising a toast to “the ideology of the Third Reich” at the La Fondue restaurant at the Val Thorens ski resort.
Burley then apologised. “There was clearly inappropriate behaviour by some of the other guests and I deeply regret that this happened. I am extremely sorry for any offence that will undoubtedly have been caused.”
A Tory spokesman said at the time: “Aidan Burley has behaved in a manner which is offensive and foolish.
“That is why he is being removed from his post as parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Transport. In light of information received, the prime minister has asked for a fuller investigation into the matter to be set up and to report to him.”
The latest tweets by Burley are likely to guarantee that the Oxford graduate, who had been marked out by Cameron for promotion after his election in 2010, will have no political future in a mainstream political party.
The prime minister is either likely to remove the whip or gently suggest to Burley that he seeks another career. He will be furious that Burley has marred what has been seen in No 10 as a magical moment for Britain.
A Labour source said: “I think Mr Burley has made an idiot of himself enough without us commenting.”
No further comment needed from us either. How many times do we have to say that intellect alone is no guarantee of a decent human being, and that personal and spiritual intelligence, integrity and empathy are what every nation needs in all of its citizens – beginning with its children?
When will we ever learn?
What were we saying in yesterday’s post about anti-social ‘social media’ and managing destructive emotions?