Festival of cliché; kitsch; sobbin’ with embarrassment; butchered Scottish culture; dire; fantastic; passable; turned out OK in the end; highlight was the African lassie singing Freedom Come All Ye; an absolute joke of an opening ceremony; all in all, pretty good; the TV coverage was a bit flat; frenzied kailyard pantomime; the big screen and the fundraiser were very innovative; the very worst moment was, without doubt, the dancing Tunnock’s Teacakes; visually garish; denigrating; brilliant; loved the wee Scottie dogs; Nicola Benedetti’s performance was simply outstanding; the fundraiser for UNICEF; cringeworthy; very colourful, very loud and OTT — like its supposed to be; toe curling; very uplifting; self-mocking; open-hearted; welcoming.
Just a few of the wall to wall comments made on social media and print media about the opening ceremony for Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games.
Traditionally, we Scots (and by that I mean everyone who lives in Scotland) enjoy putting ourselves down, dislike those who ‘get too big for their boots’, and are wont to burst bubbles of pretentiousness and cut people down to size if we feel they have become too uppity. ‘See him, ah kent his faither!’ In other words, there’s nothing really special about the guy. Verbal jousting with sharp words instead of lances is a favourite national past-time. We mock ourselves and our aspirations, whilst being outgoing, and generous of spirit to those in need of comfort or help. As a rule, we don’t indulge in displays of great enthusiasm or passion. Indeed, a phrase of great praise is, ‘It’s no’ bad.’
We can be hard-headed and practical, one of the reasons why we’ve excelled in engineering, yet beneath that exterior often lurks a deep vein of sentimentality and nostalgia. Creative in the arts and embracing many influences, yet we are known to be destructive of our own health.
Our sense of humour is often turned on ourselves, but nevertheless we have managed to produced rebels and thinkers, statesmen and philosophers. Scots don’t take themselves too seriously, and are tolerant and friendly, talking to strangers at bus stops and on trains. Glaswegians are big-hearted and open-hearted as was apparent in the roars of welcome given to all the teams taking part in the Games. And the fact many competitors wore outfits that bore a flash of tartan endeared them even more.
July has been an unbelievably good month here, and as the sun lowered in the sky on yet another hot day the ceremony was left to bask in a still, balmy evening. Weather conditions could not have been better, and athletes from warmer climes who expected to feel cold were embraced by the warmth of the evening, and by their reception.
The link-up with UNICEF was an inspired addition to the opening ceremony as, last I heard, it had raised over £2.5m from the UK alone. So while 71 teams with 4,000 athletes from Commonwealth countries readied themselves to compete and celebrate, children in need around the world were not forgotten.
And the atmosphere has continued, with athletes from all countries saying the fantastic crowds and the cheers of encouragement have spurred them on to give their best performances.
Australia heads the medal table at present, with England second and Scotland in third place, having now equaled our best ever medal haul. Many athletes and performances will provide lasting memories for those taking part and those watching, but one that is certain to remain in the minds of Scots is a stunning performance by Erraid Davies from Shetland, the 13 year old who yesterday won a bronze medal in the para-sport 100m breaststroke final. Erraid is Scotland’s youngest ever competitor, and the youngest athlete competing in Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games. Well done, lassie.