Missed the Opening Ceremony? Galaxy Babe tells us all we need to know.
The Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on the evening of 23 July was quintessentially Scottish. First up was the eclectic John Barrowman, always a popular choice at a party, who sang, danced among animated wrapped teacakes and snogged a leftover man when all the other dancers had paired up to 'marry' at Gretna Green. There was a gigantic blow-up Nessie, plenty of men in kilts, bagpipes and drums, and Susan Boyle fluffing the words of 'Mull of Kintyre'. The Queen and Prince Philip arrived in the royal Bentley scotching rumours that she was going to be escorted by a kilted Sean Connery. The National Anthem was sung a cappella by a male singer who got a rousing cheer when he'd finished. Even the Queen looked pleased not to have had to endure the usual dirge.
The Red Arrows gave a salute over the stadium with their trademark red, white and blue smoke trails. Scottish dancers put on a ballet to a fresh performance of '500 miles' and an outside broadcast showed us a seaplane landing on Loch Lomond bringing the Queen's baton on its last leg. There was a message from outer space - three astronauts on board the ISS had fun with the microphone which hung where they left it while they moved when it was their turn to talk, and as a finale one of them did a backward somersault on the spot. Adopted Scot Rod Stewart, dressed in a bacofoil suit and looking better than he had in the Sixties, got the crowd going with his energy and enthusiasm.
The March of the Athletes commenced with countries grouped alphabetically by continent. Each country's team were led out by a Scottish terrier wearing a coat emblazoned with the country's name. One was carried around the venue by its minder as it had refused to walk. They all but stole the show, but the best part of the night was yet to come. The athletes sported weird and wonderful outfits with some choosing a tartan accessory or theme, which was a nice touch. The England team got a rousing cheer, but the greatest reception of the night was reserved for Team Scotland, who appeared wearing blue print shirts and fetching pink-turquoise-mustard tartan kilts and shawls.
Sir Chris Hoy took the Queen's baton on its final leg, delivering it safely to the Commonwealth Games Federation president Prince Imran of Malaysia, whose job it was to open the baton, retrieve the Queen's message and read it out. Unfortunately he couldn't get the baton to open and he struggled with it in full view of the television camera beaming live to millions around the planet. The Queen, standing next to him, waited patiently, saying nothing although she was sporting 'that look'. Not under much pressure then! The baton refused to open so finally Sir Chris Hoy stepped forward to assist, and between them they managed to open it and dig out the message. The prince, grinning broadly, proudly held up the message and received the biggest cheer of the night. It's not every day you see a knight of the realm come to the rescue of a prince in front of a queen!
The Queen held out her hands and clapped, no doubt relieved it would soon be her turn, it must have been way past her bedtime! A fundraising appeal was made to raise money for children around the Commonwealth, inviting people to text a £5 donation. After the Queen had declared the Games open, there were fireworks to finish off and the ceremony ended some 40 minutes late. But who cared? It was madcap humour; everything remotely Scottish had been exaggerated or lampooned and it was just great viewing it live. The only thing better would to have actually been there to soak up the atmosphere (I was watching on the telly). Roll on the events, medal ceremonies and good sportsmanship.