London Olympics Telegram - by Man with a Bag (part 1)

Well, I do say, good sirs, "Well done, London!". 

Your opening ceremony was incredibly entertaining, though obviously inspired by what was staged in Sydney 2000. Only where we covered 40,000-odd years of Aboriginal history, you took us back to the Industrial Revolution; where we had itty-bitty Nikki Webster on a trapeze, you had the Queen parachuting in with 007 (aka Daniel Craig); where we had Cathy Freeman lighting the cauldron, you had David Beckham on the River Thames. 

Not that we're comparing. 

You might have the Beetles, the Rolling Stones, Queen and David Bowie, but we had Human Nature, Julie Anthony, John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John; you had Chariots of Fire, we had The Man From Snowy River; we had "Waltzing Matilda", you had "God Save the Queen"; you had the suffragettes, we had the Tap Dogs; you had JK Rowling and Mary Poppins, we had Ken Done and driza-bones; you celebrated your National Health Care system, we celebrated multiculturalism.

Without doubt, it was Rowan Atkinson who stole the show in London. Why did no one remember to include Dame Edna in Sydney? Atkinson is a world-class comedian. His timing is impeccable. His face contorts itself into hilarious Houdini-like positions.

From the outset as the theme to Chariots of Fire began to play, and Atkinson performed his London Symphony Orchestral role with a single finger on the piano key – bored and distracted by his watch, his mobile phone and then sniffles and a sneeze, an umbrella taking over his duties intermittently – we were amused.

Switch to the big screen and as the men from Chariots do their dash along the beach in their white shirts and shorts, we then find Atkinson running along with them... or, rather, behind them. Luckily, a 4WD is at hand to see him catch up, before he trips over a fellow competitor and reaches the finishing ribbon in first place.

The orchestra on the stage then comes back into view as Atkinson awakens from his dream, which he drifted into while still playing his solitary piano note. The conductor is staring at him. He looks around, embarrassed, stops playing and tries to turn the piano off. Classic Mr. Bean.

It has to be said, the Brits are better at laughing at themselves than us, though we did have Victa lawn mowers form the Olympic rings. Where their imperialist superiority complex gives them permission to have a joke at their own expense, we are often on the defensive. Not that we're comparing.

London's opening ceremony was not better, but just as good as Sydney. Now let's see how the Brits shape up against the Aussies on the track and field, and in the pool. Not that we're comparing.

GWAS does not own a television, hence her Olympic coverage is coming care of Man with a Bag, the radio and the internet.