If audiences around the world were expecting the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics to be less quirky, less peculiarly British and more universal in its appeal than the opening ceremony, they were mistaken.
It was equally extravagant, and if anything even more eccentric – some might say bordering the kitsch – with an overweight Michael Caine stepping out of a papier-mache taxi looking bizarre in a superhero costume and cape, singers popping out from the top of a replica Big Ben and London Bridge, a float of newspaper-covered taxis (reminiscent of the Beatles lyric 'newspaper taxis appear on the shore'), pretend traffic jams, and so forth, aiming to show London at its best and worst.
The major difference was that there was more and more and more of pop music blaring out of every speaker not only at the main Wembley Stadium but across venues, even as the participants in the men's marathon – the traditional last event in the Olympics – gasped and panted their way into the arena.
The music could be justified, because most of the athletes were under 30 – and this was their night, their music.
They were out in their thousands – the winners, the losers, and the also-rans, geared to partying and celebration rather than the formal march-past of the opening ceremony. And this time nobody was counting the gate-crashers.
Since popular music was the theme – with even the unquestionably spectacular fireworks taking a back seat – there is little else to mention, unless one gets into imaginable details of athletes in the prime of their fitness (and a few overweight Indian officials) prancing around as if there was no tomorrow.