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Thank you, Danny Boyle

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Olympics - our view of the games when we went down!

The 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony was an act of genius that restored the chance to be proud of this countries' heritage, a chance that was cruelly ripped from us when the celebrations of winning the games were cut short by the atrocities of 7/7 (*)

The opening ceremony brought back all those emotions of pride in our heritage, of the way that the UK has influenced and led the world from the industrial revolution, to universal health-care and the birth of the world wide web and more.

Yes, there were moments of irreverent humour as well as the pomp and circumstance, but that just captures the national psyche accurately.

Initial viewing figures (which don't include iPlayer and streaming usually) suggest 26.9 million watched the opening ceremony in the UK. As it was alleged to have cost £27 million, that's the best pound I've spent in a long time! A hat tip to one of the government ministers I usually excoriate, Jeremy Hunt, for the vision to increase the budget even when the outcome may not have played best with some of his colleagues.

(*) If reports are true, NBC cut the 7/7 memorial in the US showing of the opening ceremony. If so, they have nothing but my contempt. Imagine if the UK had done the same about 9/11 and the pain that America feels about that atrocity?

A fortnight later, the closing ceremony was a classic example of over-promising and under-delivering. Too many suggestions of the greats of British rock and pop being involved were hinted and suggested into the media and not delivered upon. For me, it only came to life with Eric Idle's performance of 'Always look on the bright side of life' - which was genius - and had a few more high points that followed; the Royal Ballet performance, Rio, and 'The Who' at the end.

Queen were great right up to the point that Jessie J arrived, with Brian May reminding us why he is the best astronomer playing guitar in the world. There's nothing wrong with Jessie J as such, it just felt that her performance style in Freddie Mercury's place trampled over everything that Queen had been (**). In fact, Jessie J had delivered a performance earlier which – either accidentally or deliberately – skewered the ethos of the Olympic Movement's organisers: "It's all about the Money". In saying this, I talk of the International Olympic Committee whose corruption has become a matter of legend. I know that the song was a big hit, so I'm not certain if it was a sly dig, or just coincidence! Likewise, the Indian dancing in Eric Idle's performance makes me wonder if it had been added after the PM's recent contemptuous remarks.

Anyway, I'm certain that the closing ceremony - rather than being the "after party to end all after-parties" - is an event that is destined to be forgotten, unlike the opening ceremony. I have the soundtrack of the latter and love it, but haven't the slightest intent of buying the latter!

(**)Arguably something that the rest of the band members have been doing for years.

Final thoughts
The participants in the Olympics have my utmost respect, except for those that tried gaming results or doping to win. Their dedication and effort made the games.

Against all predictions, the LOCOG delivered a superb games for the athletes and the spectators. It felt incredibly welcoming and extremely well organised. It helped me feel proud to be British, despite our political classes.

The Armed Forces also deserve respect for the way they stepped up and covered for the ineptness of G4S, who look like they're back to the same reputation that they had when they were plain old 'Group 4'. It was great to see so many of our uniformed services making sure that the nation looked great and not feeling intimidating at all. I still remember us saying hello to two police-officers that had been seconded from West Yorkshire to find that one of them polices Wetherby, showing how the whole nation has pulled together to deliver this!

So now the Para-Olympic Games are approaching, which I hope will be at least as good.

Danny Boyle set the scene for the Olympics and ignited the nation's passion and pride for the games and itself. He - and Team GB - gave us reasons for hope and patriotism, and touched more of the heart of this this nation than Cameron, Clegg, and Miliband can ever hope to achieve.

I'll stop gushing now.