It has now been more than a week since the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, which is enough time for us to fully digest what we saw that night.
To be fair, it wasn’t totally dreadful. In fact, you can quite neatly define the point at which it stopped being dreadful and that was when the official, pomp-and-ceremony, speeches and nations marching around with flags bit started. It was more boring, definitely, but it maintained a certain dignity that the first half lacked. I mean, what were they thinking? It was like they were trying to assassinate all the nice things that Scotland has to offer by showing them in deliberately tacky, overblown, crayon-coloured, tourist-friendly packages. It went down like this:
A load of people in tacky multi-coloured kilts sing a song that repeats the phrase ‘Welcome to Scotland’ so many times in front of a huge, altar-like kilt that the whole thing begins to resemble scenes from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The kilt lifts to reveal John Barrowman on the top of a car in a lurid purple suit. Desperate Dan from The Dandy, a giant haggis and a load of Tunnock’s Tea Cakes dance around, before Barrowman crowd-surfs over a carpet of heather. Susan Boyle stumbles all over Mull of Kintyre, a traditional Scottish hymn that has been performed for generations, even since it was written in 1977 by a man from Liverpool and a man from Birmingham. Nessie wears a hat. Rod Stewart croaks.
Oh, and don’t forget the gay kiss. That was good, because it was bound to annoy lots of people in countries where being gay is illegal. Apart from that, the dancing bit was just a mess. It was like the organisers had cut up Dorling Kindersley’s ‘My First Big Book of Scotland’ into loads of tiny bits, then got Alex Salmond to paint his jowly face with glue, rub it randomly across the pieces of paper and then charge through the stadium in nothing but a kilt, screaming incoherently and slapping his bare stomach to the beat of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers. I challenge you to get that image out of your head.
Imagine if London 2012 had gone for a similar sort of feel for the Olympic Opening Ceremony. A load of toffs with bad teeth in bowler hats and Union Flag suits sail a huge Yorkshire pudding across a pool of tea while belting out Jerusalem. Then John Barrowman appears in cricket whites and kisses James Bond. Ah, but wait! Imagine if, in a bizarre turn of events, Southampton had been asked to do the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Or, rather than Southampton the city, how about Southampton the University? Imagine that, if you can:
A moving video montage of scenes from across the University that is intended to open the ceremony fails to materialise on time, because iSolutions were allowed to make it. Instead, outgoing SUSU President David Gillani, dressed in a suit made of campaign posters, leads a load of cartwheeling sabbatical officers into a hastily constructed stadium on the Common. A convoy of turquoise Uni-Link buses do stunts and tricks, before a team of trained rats jump over some pint glasses. Exiting Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam is fired into space to mark the beginning of the fireworks. Alumni including Brain Eno, wildlife botherer Chris Packham and Kevin from the Eggheads parade out to fireworks in front of an enormous mechanical jester which is violently sick on an unfortunate sabbatical officer. Then John Barrowman appears in a gown and mortar board and kisses Sir Tim Berners-Lee, before SUSU the Cat leads out the nations of the Commonwealth. Done. On a shoestring budget. And still better than the Glasgow one