I don't plan to genuflect towards the London imperial altar too often over the next couple of weeks, but I do think there were three genuinely refreshing and praiseworthy aspects to the Olympic opening ceremony -
1) The in-your-face dedication of an entire section to the NHS. That was a bold and unambiguously political statement, and while the four National Health Services of the UK may have overwhelming public support, I'm sure there were still a number of Thatcherites foaming at the mouth. I can't even begin to imagine what our 'libertarian' chums in the US made of it.
2) Shami Chakrabarti being given her moment in the sun as one of the eight bearers of the Olympic flag. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw her - she may have some friends in the Conservative Party, but she remains a true radical, and was thus a fairly astonishing choice for such a role.
3) The choice of non-celebrities to light the Olympic flame, making the moment more important than the person.
* * *
Having made the claim in my previous post that this is not the first Olympics to be partly held in Scotland, I thought I'd better check if I was right. At first I was beginning to wonder, because the Wikipedia article on the 1908 Games only lists Southampton and the Solent as venues for the sailing events. However, the Official Report tells a different story...
"B.— CLYDE OLYMPIC MATCHES.
The series of matches for the selected 12-metre cutters under the direction
of the Olympic Committee of the Yacht Racing Association began from Hunter’s
Quay on Tuesday, August 11. The yachts engaged were Mr. Chas. MacIver’s
Mouchette, designed by Mr. Alfred Mylne, and Mr. T. C. Glen-Coats’s Hera, designed by the owner. The wind was from west-north-west, tending more northerly,
of moderate force, puffy at times, but steady for the most part, and there was no
more than a pleasant curl on the water. Each boat had an amateur crew of
ten, and the owner steered in each case. The matches were conducted by the
Clyde Corinthian Yacht Club, Commodore Robert Wylie’s steam yacht Verve was
flagship, and a committee consisting of Messrs. W. W. Aspin, secretary, Wm.
York, secretary of Royal Clyde, W. F. King, F. W. Robertson, W. R. Copland,
and J. A. Gardiner were in charge of the details, and Mr. C. Newton-Robinson
represented the Y.R.A.
The start was fixed for half-past eleven, and both cutters appeared then
under all lower canvas, jackyarders, and jibtopsails for a free reach to Inverkip.
Thence it was a beat to Dunoon, an easy reach to Kilcreggan, and a close-haul
home, twice round, twenty-six miles."