As I said, until Friday evening ... until I watched the opening ceremony of the Olympic games.
Danny Boyle's vision was entitled The Isles of Wonder, and wonder in awe, I did, at a ceremony that was nothing short of breathtaking theatre. It told a story of British history that melded together old and new, idyllic and industrial, classical and electronic, and delivered in a way that was witty, brassy and triumphant.
I boggled at the sheer enormity of the dynamic spectacle, the choreography, and the impassioned performances from the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers.
At times it was confusing - in Dizzee Rascal's words, it was bonkers - the stage awash with constant change and activity. But I think that was the point, that life is forever influx and culture continually renewing, assimilating, finding direction.
Still, there was something magical, alchemical, in the air on Friday night. Something that spoke to my childlike sense of wonder. The maypole dancers, suffragettes, JK Rowling, neon ravers - caught me off guard, and I found myself surprisingly moved. The ceremony possessed so much heart, so much warmth, from the momentary lull amidst frenetic industry to honour the victims of war, to the emotional remembrance of those who lost their lives in the 7/7 terrorist attacks.
|Images courtesy of Google|
But, for me, it was the musical score that stole the show. I loved that our diverse 'rock and rave' back catalogue was celebrated by a pantheon of genre defining artists, some quite subversive in their day, like The Sex Pistols, The Specials, New Order and The Happy Mondays.
Underworld's composition, 'And I will kiss' (featuring Dame Evelyn Glennie and the Pandemonium Drummers) was simply stunning - a track I would've spun had I still been a DJ - it formed the perfect backdrop to the dramatic unearthing of the somber industrial landscape. Layer upon layer of drums, strings and vocals pounded, cascaded and rained upon the Olympic stadium matching beat for beat, hammer for hammer, the bricks and mortar, sweat and labour of those toiling workers who struggled and fought under the austerity and physical ambition of the industrial revolution. And when the spellbinding scene culminated with the forging of the Olympic Rings, I shivered goosebumps and shed overcome tears.
Danny Boyle said of the ceremony, "this is for everyone", and it rejoiced in the nuts and bolts, the bread and butter, the common man and woman, you and me. Last Friday evening, I've never felt more proud to be British, and that doesn't happen very often ...
And wasn't the Queen a good sport?