Welcome to the first Great British Games. This major event has taken over from the erstwhile Olympic Games, which sank ignominiously due to incipient corruption and too many teams wanting to turn up to be seen waving i-phones, chewing gum and not marching in formation at opening ceremonies. So the Brits picked up the baton and ran with it and it’s all happening in swifter-higher-stronger London.
As a courtesy to the inhabitants of the Empire, Britain invited a few chaps along to add to the atmosphere. The American colonies sent a boatload of their best, who did quite well under the circumstances, with Master Phelps pocketing his eighteenth gold medal in the small pond. Terra Australis, true to its convict heritage, returned to the Isles with a barquentine of coodabeens, woodabeens and shoodabeens, whom the Great Southern Land’s press dubbed as hasbeens and also-rans, despite their landing a bucketload of silver.
The fern-bearing, sheepskin-clad, free citizens from the Land of the Long White Cloud put up a plucky performance on several fronts. A few clever Chinese masqueraded as HongKong-ese in order to snaffle a place on the podium. Several Eastern Euro countries gained wild cards by dint of their children living and working on Blake’s Sceptred Isle.
Sir Braddles kicked off the opening ceremony by ringing a bell, which was not dissimilar to the one that peeled in Lloyd’s to announce the sinking of the Titanic. Lord Lovely Becks (with tats) smiled beautifically as he stormed up the Thames with The Torch on his prow. The Queen did a dramatic turn with Mr Bond and was unanimously congratulated on her acting ability. Apparently no-one in Britain had worked out that the poor darling had been professionally acting for sixty years and then some.
And the ceremony did a lovely job of sticking it up the American colonies, who lately have been rabbiting on about independence. ‘Yes, we invented the codification of sports. And the industrial revolution, and children’s literature. Oh, and the Internet.’ Up yours.
That wonder of communication, the BBC, did a sterling job of covering the action. The Beeb dedicated fifteen channels so that the power of Britain in just about everything could be viewed by the adoring populace. Anything that didn’t involve a Brit didn’t rate a mention.
At the Athletics, the coverage switched to the ladies’ Hop, Step and Jump to take in six ‘jumps’ by the Brit hopeful whilst the three medallists went unrecorded. BBC Radio 2 momentarily went off-song in the voluntary colour-creed-class prejudice curfew when they set off a monosyllabic debate on whether too many public school boys were hogging the gold.
A Viking managed to slip under the Sea Lords’ radar and nearly snuck under the bows of British hero sailor, Chris (soon to be Sir) Ainslie, but the Brit was made of sterner stuff and saw off the bare-shirt at the last minute. However, humble Chris then blotted his copybook by looking bemused or even disgusted at the Beeb commentator’s poignant question: “how does it feel to be a legend?”
In another act of beneficence, the Beeb employed some visiting subject matter experts - Ian Thorpe, John McEnroe and Michael Johnson – as special commentators so they could heap praise on the brilliance of the Brit brigade when they won, and provide sympathetic praise and excuses when they didn’t win or even qualify.
David-Bertie-Wooster Cameron, having publicly declared that no politicians would be accepting freebies to the Games, turned up at everything, along with the furry Archbishop of Canterbury, who’s recently (last week) discovered a passion for sport. Nobody minded that Wills, Kate and Harry turned up on cue, as they’re all as fit as fleas and as sporting as any of the athletes.
At the Athletics, Dame JEnnis proved that the Heptathlon is worth watching, and, in the 10,000m, Sir-elect little Mo Farah pulled out the big one and beat off most of his relatives from Kenya and the applause of the 80,000 spectators was deafening. So was the megaphonic screaming by the American friend of an Aussie self-proclaimed former pisspot-party-animal: ‘go Benny – it’s yours – you can do it, Benny – you’re catching ’em!’, despite the fact that Benny was half a lap behind little Mo who’d already crossed the finish line.
Determined to protect the Brits’ reputation as fun-loving eccentrics, the discus judges employed a fleet of radio-controlled micro Mini Coopers to speed their verdicts across the turf.
And the gold just kept coming – it was more fun than raiding a Rajah’s gunny sack of precious stones or setting off atomic crackers at Maralinga and the Isles of Montebello.
In the velodrome Sir Hoy (soon to be Lord) and his team scorched the opposition. At the rowing, the Brits proved they can travel backwards faster than anyone else and delivered a river of gold.
As for the event logistics – a triumph, no less. The spiffingly clean transport infrastructure moved millions of fans around the great city with seamless efficiency. On the security front, the Army performed an improbable cocktail of military precision delivered with courtesy and charm. Boris, Grand Poobah of London, told everyone to steer clear of the City. Being obedient Brits, they did just that, much to the chagrin of the shopkeepers and taxi drivers.
The Lion had roared. Britain had proven its supremacy on the world stage. And the people were happy, magnanimous and proud to be British. And the ghosts of Roman Londinium were well pleased – ‘Bread and circuses’ always works.