The London Olympics
Something weird happened over the last couple of days, as we approached the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics - I started to give a crap.
This was most unexpected as I am, by nature, both apathetic and cynical and not even remotely interested in flag-waving patriotism. I do not care about the patch of land on which some accident of geography and history caused me to be born.
And yet there was a strange stirring of pride, a lone, feeble blossom growing in a field of ambivalence.
Even more weirdly, I think it's Mitt Romney's fault. He is, let's be clear here, a feckless, ignorant bell end. His politics are diametrically opposed to my own and I find his ideologies abhorrent. But then the useless gobshite came on a visit to Britain and repeatedly stuck his foot in his mouth. He dared to say something mildly critical about the preparations for the Olympics and suddenly I started to get all defensive about the country I didn't really care about
In all honesty, the lead up to the games has been fairly shambolic; the whole security thing, the arguments over gets the stadium in the end, and so on. But someone else having a pop? Oh. No. You. Didn't!
Yes, it's irrational and perhaps even mildly unfair to Romney (he's still a tool though), but I can't help it.
There's something very British about the inept build up, the general air of resigned indifference, the sudden defensiveness and finally a weird kind of contradictory cynical enthusiasm - yeah, we think it might suck but we've got this far so we might as well carry on.
Things go wrong, we grumble about it but keep going, making it up as we go along, cobbling things together with hope and gaffer tape, and somehow it works.
It's a strange kind of shambolic resilience and it makes me weirdly proud.
I was convinced that the opening ceremony was going to be pretty lame but, well, it wasn't. Yeah, parts of it were baffling but a lot of it was just cool - it celebrated the NHS in front of the man who's currently trying to carve it up (David Cameron), there was a CND symbol, Bond and the Queen (who looked thoroughly pissed off whenever the camera was on her), some incredible visuals, women in the Saudi team (albeit walking behind the men. Still, baby steps), Palestine being recognised as an independent state, and finally the awesome flame - overall it was all very impressive!
We'll skip over Paul McCartney butchering Hey Jude - some things are best left to recede into history unremembered.
There are many things I don't like: I still think it's a colossal waste of money when so many social services are being cut; the draconian, state-enforced regulations over sponsors' logos; the suppression of protest; missiles on the roofs of residential buildings.
But as a celebration of global diversity and the British ability to screw everything up yet still make it work, I applaud it. Grudgingly.
Now we just need to get to the end so we can gripe about everything that went wrong and take the piss out of it.
Brings a patriotic tear to my eye...