After 84 months of waiting and planning, it’s Olympic bonanza time.
At least it’s a bonanza for most. Sponsors, athletes, spectators, Danny Boyle, outlets selling fish and chips for £8.50 and a 175ml glass of wine for £5.20, a pint of lager at £4.60 and a bag of Cadbury’s (the official Treat supplier) chocolate sweets for £1 - £3.
It’s been good too for the University of Kent, which expects to make £1.3m from Olympic-related hospitality. Eurostar will be bringing thousands of spectators from the continent to make up for the dip in business travel.
Soldiers drafted in to cover for the G4S fiasco (will they ever win any more government contracts?) may not be so happy. And motorists held up by Zil lane BMWs (they have sensors that automatically change traffic lights from red to green) will be fuming.
But tonight’s opening ceremony will be a great advert for Britain. I saw it in rehearsal earlier in the week and it’s stunning. For all the cynicism and allegations of left-wing bias, it’s a great show, an amazing blend of rural idyll, with cricket as well as sheep on show, and some amazing images depicting the Industrial Revolution.
And, of course, there’s the customary modern dance sequence that aims to show off Cool Britannia. A complex show involving thousands shows that it’s not only the Chinese that can do great opening sequences.
It’s easy to be critical of Locog political correctness and decisions that seem taken straight from a Twenty Twelve script. But let’s face it, the “deliverance” body (ODA), the architects, construction companies and suppliers that make it possible have done a fantastic job.
What a shame that all those Kent firms that won Olympic contracts have not been allowed to promote the fact. Hugh Robertson, Olympic minister and Kent MP, estimates that the Games have been worth more than £30m to our county’s businesses. They should be allowed to talk about it without fear of the brand police.
It’s been a great feat of organisation and leadership, especially by Sebastian Coe. What a Boys Own Hero. What a case study for business inspiration.
Despite the G4S debacle and the odd glitch over the wrong North Korean flag - didn’t the Twenty Twelve scriptwriters think of that one? - it looks as though it’s going to be alright on the night.
The security at the Olympic Park was just like Heathrow, but with plenty of military people and volunteer Games Makers around, it was reasonably quick. Let’s hope there are no incidents over the next few weeks.
The park complex is a fine transformation of derelict land - a great example of regeneration.
But let’s hear it for the volunteers. They were all smiles and eagerness to help. 70,000 are giving up their time, a lot of expense and annual leave to do it. I spoke to some of them at the rehearsal and they were so keen. They also knew the answers to questions from the public. Along with the remarkable Torchbearers (the relay was a great show too that enthused a nation), they are the real heroes of these Games.
I hope I can live up to their example when I’m a Games Maker at the Paralympic Games.
Let the show begin - and savour the next few weeks of sporting achievement that most of us will never see on our doorstep again. And, if it helps tourism and encourages inward investment, as David Cameron desperately hopes, it’s all good for GB Plc and its dynamic Kent subsidiary.