Olympic Opening Ceremony. British and proud of it… but not English
I’ve just seen a comment on Twitter that sent my Scottish/British blood pressure sky-high. Italian journalist Gianni Riotta, commenting on the opening ceremony, said that it illustrated “straordinaria sicurezza identita’ inglese”: essentially, the English people’s extraordinary sense of, and confidence in, their national identity, to the extent of being able to laugh at themselves. Mr. Riotta wondered if the Italians or French could do the same (can you, French and Italian readers?)
I watched the ceremony from start to finish. It did indeed underscore and reinforce my sense of national identity. Which is not English.
The ceremony was wonderfully inclusive. It included performers, athletes and volunteers from all over the United Kingdom. It included children’s choirs filmed in the stadium and in beautiful settings in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Here they are, courtesy of the BBC.
It included Emeli Sandé, a Scottish singer with a Zambian father and an English mother. And it included the Scottish Sir Chris Hoy, for Pete’s sake, carrying the flag for (please take note, Mr. Riotta) the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic Team.
Just to keep some balance here, I got equally riled by Alec Salmond’s coining of the ridiculou “Scolympians”, for Scottish Olympians. Are the Welsh Team-GB members to be dubbed “Wolympians”?
Disclosure: some of my best friends are English.
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