The London Olympics' breathtaking opening ceremony showed Britain at its best. DW sports reporter Titus Chalk shares his emotions from the event, writing that the event made him feel proud to be British.
Pride is an emotion we guard ourselves against. Perhaps so much so that when we suddenly feel it puff up our chests, we are taken by surprise, shocked even, that we should allow ourselves such an indulgence.
Well, move aside reserve, nicety and self-control - tonight, I am proud and I am British and, having wiped away a tear, I am walking with a spring in my step.
Danny Boyle's Isles of Wonder has just blown my mind. All the quibbles and artistic tensions that plagued the production have been blown out the top of his vertiginous chimneys in a glorious plume of smoke and magic, and the world has just seen a demonstration of the finest wit, humour and creativity this old island has to offer.
Boyle's production was audacious - but one so rooted in values that resonate with the average Brit that it couldn't fail to delight and to awaken those feelings we normally shrug off with typical British self-deprecation.
The social, cultural and artistic achievements of Britain, when stacked up and accompanied by the dulcet tones of Underworld, Dizzee Rascal and co looked considerable. But the choice of Boyle's heroes – from the Suffragettes to the NHS nurses via the Chelsea pensioners – meant that they were always tinged with humility and never simply mighty.
In the past, Britain has been rightly castigated for the colonial zeal with which it has sought to impress upon others its way of doing things. But the values and themes celebrated by the opening ceremony tonight go a long way toward making this nation a liberal, progressive and richly multicultural place to live – in short, a great Britain and the perfect destination for 204 different nations to be thrown together in sporting competition.
I hope that whether or not the athletes competing in London end up stood on the podium bursting with pride of their own, they will take home a sense of the Britain in Boyle's opening ceremony.
We are, it turns out, a nation in which even the Queen can laugh at herself the length of a skit with Daniel Craig; where Mr Bean can jam with the London Symphony Orchestra and where a huge slice of society has a role to play in the biggest party the country has thrown since the millennium.
The flame is lit. The Games are open. Welcome to London 2012.
Author: Titus Chalk
Editor: Tracy Moran