It's at least 20 years since I have quoted with enthusiasm a feature comment in the South Wales Argus. Deep breath. Here goes:
"Brash, ballsy, British. You took that twee Downton Abbey world and blew it up with fireworks, drumming, suffragettes, unions, pearly kings and queens, nurses, children in pyjamas, Grime-loving teenagers in clubs and stunning use of handheld sets by the crowd.
And David Cameron must have been squirming in his seat. Would the Bullingdon Boys now dare tamper with the NHS after your sharp little allegory, the sick children seeing off all kinds of monsters? Let's hope not"
That and more will adorn tomorrow's paper. A tantalising series of revelations are appearing on how the message was devised. The Telegraph reports on ministerial unhappiness and suggest changes were made. What were they? Tony Blair wanted the Millennium Celebrations to be the first page of Labour Election Manifesto. It was not. Only the foul-ups were remembered. The Ryder Cup was a success but suffered from years of being over-hyped here in Newport. The Cameron and Boris's double act of adulation was certain to end in tears. Both mined the superlatives quarry. Nothing could match the expectations. Between the dream and the reality the inevitable shadows will fall. They always do.
Danny Boyle should not accept a knighthood for his unique work of genius. They are mostly awarded for those who do their day jobs reasonable competently. To accept a knighthood would debased the quality of a glorious national romp.
One day we will hear what changes the Government wanted. This was not British history as Michael Gove sees it. There was an acknowledgement of the suffering of war, respect for fallen warriors without triumphalism. The centrepiece NHS sign was a worthy celebration of the greatest single political reform of the last century. The CND symbol was formed by the dancers. This is history from the perspective of Classic Labour.
If it had been New Labour it might have included an anthem to the beauty of PFI or a tribute to those who dragged us into avoidable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Had it been a Tory script, the achievements of the British Empire would have been hailed without mentioning the dark legacy. Margaret Thatcher would have been lauded and privatisation acclaimed.
Boyle included a passing brief tribute to Churchill as his statue become animated. Rightly so. Thatcher and Blair were invisible. When the excitement dies down, rational judgements can be made. Will we blame the Tories for censorship if that is what hapenned as the Telegraph suggests? Or perhaps we may praise them for not trying to squash a creative genius by filleting a vivid interpretation of the best in the nation's story? We will see later.