Normally, I never get emotional at ceremonial events due mostly to my mother’s behaviour when I was a small child. I was dragged in all weathers to see just about every ceremonial event imaginable. I remember crying in the pouring rain and freezing during the Lord Mayor’s Parade and that inner vow being earnestly taken that I would never again place myself at the kerb in a British street waving a flag to someone in a golden coach, or anything remotely similar.
Such was my surprise when I found myself watching the arrival of the Olympic Torch through the London Borough in which I work. In fact it went past my very workplace, I guess I allowed myself to get caught up in the emotion. I found myself shedding a tear as the circus of people travelled past me. Was this a spiritual moment I asked myself. Is this some God given anointing on our city that was raising the expectation and fervour of its people. The curious part of me did some research about the history of the Olympic Torch Relay, as it is known, and I was somewhat surprised to find out that the first use of the Olympic Torch was in fact in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics. Hitler had the idea that it would “stir the people” after he realised the Nazi party were going through some difficult political criticisms. Well, stir the people it certainly does. My initial thought was to check to see what political issues are on the agenda for the state opening of parliament. I mean, if a people are this easy to please I’m sure there will be someone somewhere willing to take advantage of a people willing to say yes. I don’t think of myself as cynical just very cautious when the public mood is high.
The opening ceremony in one sense was spectacular it showed us as a creative, humorous and formidable people which of course we are. However, being the Political animal I was raised to be by parents who were poles apart when it came to politics, my mother is an outspoken Conservative and my father an even more outspoken Labour supporter and a trade union man of 60 years or more, I was always going to question the politics of such an event.
I used to listen perplexed by my parents arguments and, strangely, never convinced by the leftist thinking of the Labour camp. The ideas that were portrayed during the Olympic ceremony certainly started me thinking about how ludicrous the idealism of the left really can be. Immediately I was struck by the choice of speech spoken by Kenneth Branagh, it was the famous Caliban speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It was the benign nature of the British which was captured by this bizarre portrayal of Brunel. Stereotypes were heaped on with intent to amuse and delight our foreign friends. What followed was nothing more than poorly judged and misplaced historical inaccuracies telling just one side of a very complex picture. The idea that industrialists were all heartless and despicable tyrants is nothing more that left wing propaganda. The fact that trade unions have done more harm to this country than any other organisation is more in line with truth.
The middle ages was not all about dancing around maypoles it was marked largely by ignorance poverty and extreme hardship. It marked the start of progress that produced the affluence we all enjoy today. I was almost apoplectic with rage after the portrayal of the NHS, as we all know, the way it is now is not the altruistic organisation the left would have us think it should be. I speak with personal experience of seeing an elderly relative treated with contempt and neglect until the day he died.
Sadly for me, Boyle’s portrayal of Britain is what we are now, not or what we once were or indeed could become but what we are. We are dripping relentlessly in political correctness and being crushed by clichés and sentimental nonsense where by if one person complains to the BBC about something being broadcast and then gains 50,000 complainers on twitter who had never seen or heard the broadcast to begin with makes me ashamed to say we live in a free country. We do not.
To quote Melanie Phillips “in today’s Britain, objectivity has given way to emotion. Reality has been replaced by the creative imagination. Truth has been supplanted by wishful thinking. Anyone who dissents from any of these orthodoxies is treated as a pariah.”
Incidentally, Christians have done more to further this country than any other organisation or people, that is fact. Christians started the NHS. Christians ended slavery. Christians improved the workplace and improved safety for all. Christians have been at the forefront of all things good in this nation and where was the acknowledgment in Boyle’s depiction of Britain?
Caliban was borne of a witch and was a vile deformed violent monster and dreamt of a time when everything was perfect, he actually believed that things were wonderful and when he awoke he “cried to dream again” because he realised perfection was simply fantasy.
We saw a piece of creative genius in the opening ceremony but the political undertone is a dangerous whirlwind. I fear that when the public mood is as high as it is at the moment it is time to pray. We have always been attacked as a nation when the public mood is high. I fear that at the moment we are in Caliban’s dream I’m hoping that the closing ceremony doesn’t cause us to awake.
I have a strange feeling that the closing ceremony will attempt to celebrate our comic heroes. This, if it happens is a fatal mistake because most of our comic heroes are themselves failures. Instead of “crying to dream again” lets cry out to a God who can only make our dreams a reality.