Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Where Was Robbie Burns?
Friday night was Opening Night. Yes, I did watch it, or as much of it as my senses could handle. It was a bewildering spectacle which must have been incomprehensible to viewers from abroad. One in which Scotland was acknowledged in a two minute image of children singing in the surroundings of Edinburgh Castle and Emeli Sande's distinctive rendering of 'Abide With Me'.
The event was described as showing 'the things we love about Britain' - the Industrial Revolution, the digital revolution, the NHS, pop music, children's literature and genius engineers.
The show - because it wasn't a ceremony - should have been billed as 'the things we love about England' because none of Scotland's contributions to the world featured. The Industrial Revolution wouldn't have been possible without the likes of Joseph Black, (born in France to an Irish father and Scottish mother) and the Hamilton-born William Cullen. Alexander Fleming's discovery, which has saved billions of lives since the 1940s, would have brought a little gravitas to the disco-styled (collapsing) English NHS section.
Midway through the four hour London 2012 opening ceremony, up popped Tim Berners Lee who tweeted 'This is for everyone' from the centre of the stadium and the words appeared in huge letters across the seating screens. No mention was made of Alexander Graham Bell's invention, without which Mr Berners Lee's technology wouldn't exist.
Most people now know who Berners Lee is and what he did that was so exceptional because nowadays we accept his invention as the 'norm'. What many don't realise is that Berners Lee refused to close and control the World Wide Web he created, in marked contrast to the political economy of the Olympics.
However, Thomas Heatherwick's beautiful Olympic cauldron was a visual delight and would have fascinated the Scot Thomas Telford.
Danny Boyle could also have mentioned the French-born Scot William Laurie Dickson who, without his invention and that of John Logie Baird's, few of us would have witnessed the occasion.
In all fairness Mr Boyle is an Englishman and he managed to pull off an acceptable image of England past and present.
In 2014 Scotland has a chance to showcase itself at the Commonwealth Games. We shouldn't miss the opportunity to include reference to the many who have given their skills - and lives - to make our country the place it is today. That includes Robbie Burns.