Sunday, 5 August 2012

This happy breed

A really sweet thing has happened. The British nation appears to be happy.

Obviously, not every last Briton will be thrilled and overjoyed by the Olympics, and the bold brilliance of so many of the competitors from this little island nation. There will still be the grouches and the grumps, and hurrah for them, because if we suddenly turned into a land of Pollyannas it would be a bit creepy and Stepford-ish. But, to judge from the papers and the internet and the voices on the radio, the national mood is light. It has been heavy and filled with portent for a long time. Will the Euro go smash, and drag us down with it? Does anyone know what to do about the rogue bankers? Shall we ever see the return of growth? Now, the sun has come out, and benighted Britons are casting off their cares and allowing themselves a moment of heedless delight.

I don’t think it’s just the success of the athletes, although of course that is a source of admiration and pride. Anecdotal reports show that competitors of all nations are being taken to the battered old British heart. I think it is a more complicated cup of tea. It is that the world has come to Blighty, and we managed to put on a show. It is the lovely evidence that The Young People are not the Net-addicted, workshy idlers that some of the tabloids like to paint them. Their dedication and hard work are everywhere evident, from the track to the pool to the river. They are also all amazingly polite and modest in interview, giving credit to everyone but themselves, thanking the crowd, paying tribute to the people behind the scenes. Perhaps too it is the daily proofs that with determination and spirit and heart and industry, almost anything is possible. That alone is enough to lift the human heart.

There is an odd generosity about these games. Losers are cheered on; the crowds may be partisan, but they pay tribute to excellence under any flag. Strangers are smiling at each other in the street, striking up conversations on the tube, cheering in trains when a Team GB medal is announced.

The cherry on today’s cake came when Andy Murray showed all his fire and brilliance to win the gold medal at tennis. It’s not a game I know much about, but even I could see it was poetry in motion. He looked very young, and very happy, and the whole thing was absurdly moving, and I cried actual tears.

In a matter of days, the whole thing will be over, and we shall go back to normal, and find many things of which to complain. But for now, there is a whiff of joy and glory in the air, and there is something uncomplicated and lovely about that.

 

Some quick pictures from yesterday, when the sun was shining:

Red’s view:

5 Aug 7

5 Aug 8

5 Aug 9

Red the Mare:

5 Aug 10-001

Pigeon:

5 Aug 10

Hill, swathed in early morning mist:

5 Aug 15

17 comments:

  1. Yes! I'm especially touched and amused by the way in which London has turned into a small town where people talk to each other on the bus even though they don't know each other, and the only subject is the Olympics. A cheer went up on the C2 bus in Kentish Town (Kentish Town!) today when Andy Murray won gold. All this delighted camaraderie can't last, and indeed ought not to, it would make a big city intolerable if everyone was so matey - but I love it now.

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  2. Love the thought of the C2 bus in Kentish Town. Thank you for telling me.

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  3. Sheer undiluted joy. We don't allow ourselves that luxury very often. The perfect antidote to a non- existent summer.

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  4. I agree that there is an odd generosity about these Olympics. There's a lovely spirit about the games and I put it down to them being in England. They had me at the opening ceremony which was so very British; mad, funny, wonderfully British. Although I haven't watched a lot, I've read and seen how the crowds have cheered and whooped for every country and every last competitor. Fabulous!

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    1. Such a lovely comment, and so glad you liked the slightly nutty opening ceremony.

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  5. Agree. Fabulous and eccentric. Strange events- running around things, jumping over things and throwing things. A bit odd if you think about it but the effort and the capability are inspiring. I am going to go run around a bit of the peak district now. Equally strange but will make me very happy today.

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    1. All the running and jumping and throwing IS so odd, and yet so delightful. :)

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  6. I've been struck by how many of my young internet friends are wholeheartedly loving the whole thing. They've cast off cynicism and sophistication and simply enjoying it. The Twitter comments on being proud of their country, proud to be British, during the opening ceremony were just lovely and quite unexpected.

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    1. Lovely to hear of the young enthusiasts, in particular.

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  7. I've been thinking about this and the weekend just gone, and I've just realised I've had more spontaneous, unnnecessary, just-for-the-joy-of-it conversations with strangers over the past seventy two hours than I'd had (before Saturday) in the whole of the past year of London-living. And no-one's reacted by edging away with a fixed grin, either!

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    1. So glad you told me that; such a happy picture.

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    2. Such a lovely word picture. Thank you.

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  8. Hello Tania, just come across your blog through a tweet and what a lovely surprise! It felt like finding a brilliant boutique in a high street full of chain stores.

    I am big on happiness and 'glass half full' so am thoroughly enjoying the good naturedness of the whole Olympics experience - I do hope the positive vibes continue long after Blur send us out with a bang(or even better - The Universal - which still sends shivers up my spine 9 years after seeing them perform it at the Reading Festival) at the closing ceremony.

    Look forward to dropping by more often!

    Toni

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    1. Toni - WELCOME TO THE BLOG. Forgive caps, but I get very excited by new readers. And what a lovely comment; thank you.

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  9. Completely agree and as usual you have summed it up perfectly. Our household is loving it, glued to it and buzzing from it. Pride and tears and cheers daily.
    Anne.x

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    1. LOVE the thought of yr happy household. :)

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