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TV review: the Games opening ceremony

The big boys from the BBC began by lowering our expectations: Huw Edwards warned us not to expect anything as grand as London 2012, saying Glasgow's little effort will instead be 'playful'.

So bravo to the organisers! Well done! You proved them wrong, because this wasn't 'playful'. It was a hideous embarrassment.

The worst thing the organisers could have chosen as an opener would have been the detonation of a tactical nuclear device. The second worst thing would have been the release of smallpox, but the third worst thing would have been John Barrowman. The budget must have been stretched tight because they were forced to go with that third option. So we had to endure this gaudy man in violet tartan, yowling in his fake Scottish accent that we 'come from the land of heather'. 'SCATLAND!' he sang, the land of 'hairy coos and castles.'

As he was hurled around the stadium, a flapping grey condom appeared. I assumed - through the panicked, clammy fingers pressed to my face - that this novelty prophylactic represented the Loch Ness Monster.

Then embarrassment dissolved and I began to feel anger. There was real anger that this incredible opportunity to show Glasgow off to one billion people had been trashed by this kitsch display. Someone joked on Twitter that the ceremony must have been created by those opposed to independence as it ignored everything great about Scotland, portraying us instead as stunted Brigadoon yokels. We must cling close to the UK because look how daft we are when we're allowed to do something alone!

So where did all the money go? Despite the millions spent on this ceremony I saw something resembling a school play - but a school where each pupil suffers from appallingly low self-esteem and their teachers urge them to surmount it by singing, jumping and wheeling about in a frenzy of tartan and Tunnock's teacakes.

Even the pitch resembled school: the wooden floor was like a vast, dusty gym hall at an embarrassing school leavers' dance. In the midst of the action the camera often pulled back to reveal a vast wooden expanse with some random figures and props scattered across it.

It was an embarrassment, and, regrettably, the only deliverance from the Brigadoon hell was when non-Scottish people appeared. Rod Stewart was a professional, trusty distraction, and the Queen gave a desperately-needed moment of calm. When the Red Arrows flew over it allowed a few minutes to quickly scroll through the Wikipedia entries on Scottish history, reminding yourself that our country has produced industry, invention and an Enlightenment, and that we're not just a pile of kilts and coos.

Mercifully, the athletes soon began their parade around the stadium so the kitsch frenzy abated and dignity was restored. A Scottish flavour was nicely present here as the teams were led out by jaunty Scottish Terriers. Take note, organisers: it is possible to give things a 'Scottish accent' without tartan twee depravity.

But we need to shove aside the awful elements of the Opening Ceremony. Let's remember it's only two hours out of a 12 day tournament. The Games themselves, and their legacy, are what matters. And, for me, the legacy isn't about a futuristic velodrome or some new flats in Dalmarnock, but it's about seeing Glasgow in a new light. I thought it a novelty to see footage of a Glasgow football stadium surrounded by smiling people and cheerfulness (though admittedly the smiling faces were glimpsed before the ceremony, not during.) There were no neds or broken bottles or charging police horses in sight. I saw it afresh. So shall that be the real legacy of the Games? Seeing our city afresh? Re-evaluating it? Will the real legacy be a glad rediscovery of our own city?

I realised this when sitting in the Botanics today. I watched people crowding round the Clyde mascot to have their photos taken with him. Based on the accents and the violent sunburn they were Glaswegians, not tourists. So where were the tourists? You can bet they weren't wasting their trip to the city by snapping selfies with an oversized toy. They'll have guidebooks and plans and itineraries. They'll make sure they see the best we have. They won't be wasting time capering round a plastic statue. And as I shook my head at the capering I realised I'm the same. I've lived in this city for three decades but have yet to visit the Cathedral or the Necropolis or the Willow Tea Rooms or The Hunterian - but you can bet the savvy tourists have. When you visit a fine foreign city you will race round all the sights, ticking off galleries and cathedrals, and leave with a vast sense of cultural satisfaction and weary feet. But how many of us have tackled our own city with the same gusto and wonder? But why shouldn't we? Why don't we? If we belong to Glasgow then Glasgow also belongs to us. So let the legacy be that we explore Glasgow afresh and enjoy it - but avoid Pollok Country Park. It has 'hairy coos' and we don't want to prove Barrowman right.

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