It started with Mr Bean and ended with the Spice Girls. In between was one of the best Olympic Games in history.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge stopped short of declaring the London Games the best in history. So we will.
Well, the best this century at least - and that's some tribute because Sydney put on a splendid show 12 years ago.
But, there wouldn't have been a dissenting voice among the 80,000 people packed into the Olympic Stadium or the 350 million global television audience when organising committee chairman Sebastian Coe said: “When our time came - Britain, we did it right."
If an extra gold medal could be struck it should be awarded to the British people for the way they supported these Games in this era of austerity and put a smile back on the faces of the world.
The crowd were singing the Queen anthem, We Are The Champions, in the countdown to the closing ceremony start. And, it wasn't an empty boast - the British audiences were top drawer.
The abiding memory of any Olympiad is always the sport - the record-breaking deeds of Usain Bolt and his Jamaican relay team, Kenyan David Rudisha's 800m world-record run, Mo Farah's distance-running double on the track, Michael Phelps' medal-winning spree in the pool and Hamish Bond and Eric Murray's total dominance at the rowing lake.
But, as Rogge acknowledged, the British audiences “energised the competitors and brought a festive spirit to every Olympic venue".
That was never more exemplified than at the main stadium 24 hours before the final curtain fall. When a struggling Turkish high jumper needed an extra lift to reach the height on her final jump, the whole crowd gave her a rousing cheer worthy of a Team GB champion and virtually willed her over the bar.
Would that have happened in Australia, the US - or New Zealand, for that matter?
The Parade of Athletes, the handing of the baton from one host city (London 2012) to another (Rio 2016) and the extinguishing of the flame are the failsafe set pieces of any closing ceremony.
A stuntman was shot from a cannon into a safety net, fireworks flared and the crowd was showered with red, white and blue tickertape.
But the most sustained applause last night wasn't for the athletes or the actors and singers, it was for the 70,000 Britons who gave up their time to put a party on for the world. It took more than a minute for the cheers to subside when Coe said the “tens of thousands of volunteers" now “have the right to say ‘I made London 2012'."
Rogge agreed the "much-needed heroes of these Games" had shown the world “the best of British hospitality". “We will never forget the smiles, the kindness and the support of the wonderful volunteers."
The Brits brought so much into these Games that there was a ripple of boos yesterday when the Olympic cauldron was being extinguished. No-one seemed to want the tournament to end.
Why would you when you'd seen a fortnight of world-class sport and a panoply of pop stars strutting their stuff on stage.
There was something for everyone in Kim Gavin's edgy, engaging ceremony which also poked the borax at British institutions and traits.
THE playbill included the London Symphony Orchestra, a London Welsh male voice choir through to Britpop legends like Ray Davies from The Kinks, Annie Lennox, Madness, Kaiser Chiefs, Take That, George Michael, Pet Shop Boys, Queen and One Direction. David Beckham may have missed a berth on the Great Britain football team, but his wife, Victoria (aka Posh Spice), was on stage with the Spice Girls, who found favour with Kiwi athletes, Kris Gemmell and Simon van Velthooven both tweeting their approval of the 90s “girl" band.
The long list of performers was effectively a Who's Who of British music since the 60s, including The Who. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey and their support crew closed the party with three hits from their 1969 album, Tommy, culminating in My Generation as a tribute to the 10,490 athletes, the current cream of world sport.
Character actor Timothy Spall did a convincing job of portraying Britain's wartime premier Sir Winston Churchill and Monty Python's Eric Idle featured in a rendition of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
Looking on the bright side of life has been a London trademark during the 30th Olympiad.
John Lennon was also represented 32 years after his untimely death. A video of the former Beatles supremo singing his 1971 hit Imagine was screened to an awestruck audience.
Was there a better anthem than Imagine, a song of peace, and hope and love, for the world's greatest sporting festival.
And, is there a greater forum anywhere for bringing together peoples from 200-plus nations than the Olympic Games? Quite simply, no.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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