DAY by day the images get better and better.
Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, smiles as radiant as the rowing golds they held aloft. Bradley Wiggins, sitting on a gilt throne, giving the Churchillian victory sign. An opening ceremony so loudly and proudly British you could almost smell the salt and vinegar in the air.
Plenty of words have been spilled on the effects of the 2012 games on the economy, the health of future generations, even the race to be the next Tory leader. Few, so far, have considered how all this red, white, blue and gold might colour our own dear independence debate.
Dame Evelyn Glennie is among those who have found themselves musing on the matter of nationality. Fresh from leading the massed ranks of drummers at the opening ceremony, the Aberdeenshire-born percussionist wrote in her blog: "I was born in Scotland and I am proud to call myself Scottish, however my country is the United Kingdom."
Though some Twitter wag compared the divinely long-haired and hair-dye-eschewing Ms Glennie to Gandalf, her words made her sound more like a Santa Claus to the no camp, the best thing that has happened to them since Alistair Darling said: "Oh, go on then."
A YouGov/Fabian Society poll this week showed support for independence at 30%, with 54%against. It is possible that with two weeks of Team GB this, and God Save the Queen that, the yes vote could dip further. Or it could go the other way. As the pundits on the BBC sofa might parrot, it's all to play for.
If the Olympics have shown anything it is that the business of nationality is more nuanced, more dependent on gut instinct, than many might have hitherto thought. Take the shots of Scotland's Heather Stanning and England's Helen Glover. For those who are pro-independence, the Stanning-Glover combo is a perfect illustration of an equal partnership between nations. For those who are anti, the duo are a matchless illustration of the old adage that if it ain't broke, don't attempt to fix it.
There's more complexity still. Stanning was born in Yeovil but brought up in Lossiemouth. She is not Scottish by birth but she is Scottish in every other way – she was raised here, educated here, her family home is in Lossiemouth. Her job, however, is serving as a captain in the British Army. In having such a web of connections north and south of the Border, Stanning's life mirrors that of many other Scots who think of themselves as Scottish, with a bit extra added on courtesy of job, history, and family ties.
It was Danny Boyle's opening ceremony that started all this cultural confusion. There we were, thinking of the Olympics as something that had little to do with most of us outside London. Then came Boyle's Isles of Wonder. Though it took place in east London, this was the most northern affair since Coronation Street's Deirdre Barlow hooked up with Mike Baldwin. Boyle's portrayal of the industrial revolution was the story of the north, a salute to all those long-gone relations of ours who toiled in the factories and the shipyards on the Clyde and on the Tyne.
Boyle, the lad from Lancashire, born to an Irish mother and an English father, paid several specific tributes to Scotland in his ceremony. Perhaps it was a nod to the country that gave him Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, but time and again he made sure Scotland felt part of the party, whether it was schoolchildren singing Flower of Scotland at Edinburgh Castle or Aberdeen's Emeli Sande and her sublime rendition of Abide with Me.
Those who thought the Olympics would thereafter be an illustration of one big happy British family were soon given cause to think again. Boyle's ceremony stemmed from a line from The Tempest: "Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises." Not if you're standing near a Team GB football squad it isn't. In the opening match against Senegal, Team GB was split on whether to sing God Save the Queen or not. Several Welsh players opted not to. When the women's team played New Zealand, two Scots players declined to join in the anthem.
The men's coach, Stuart Pearce, doesn't consider it a matter worth breaking a sweat over. If the players want to sing it's fine, if they don't there's no problem. It must look very strange, though, to viewers from abroad. Perhaps they think we're such a progressive and united kingdom things like national anthems don't matter. Clearly, to those not singing them, they do.
When it comes to which politician has had a good Olympics so far, Alex Salmond, the First Minister, is struggling to get on the medal table. He has taken pelters for hiring a London club, at a reported cost of £400,000, and calling it "Scotland House". It is meant to be a showcase for the best of Scotland, a place for visitors to drop and hopefully leave some jobs behind. Scottish taxpayers should in time be told who has visited the place and what it has achieved. Otherwise, £400k is a helluva price to pay for providing Lulu with a photo opportunity. As for the First Minister dubbing Scottish athletes "Scolympians" in his good luck message, one hopes the toddler who thought that one up is suitably embarrassed.
It is hard for anyone or anything not sport-related to get a word in edgeways in these Olympic days. Even so, Mr Salmond has been strangely quiet, for him anyway. It's a delicate situation. Blow the Scottish trumpet and he could accused of being parochial. Don't blow it and he leaves the field clear to those who would use London 2012 as a symbol of the UK being better together.
Yet equally, these Olympics show that in the global family of nations, all sorts and shapes are welcome, and that for every Bradley Wiggins there is a Sir Chris Hoy. If there is any place in the world where patriotism rules okay, it's London right now. Shouldn't Mr Salmond be making more of such an opportunity?
Between now and the 2014 referendum there will be countless opportunities to argue over whether this or that event has boosted or deflated the independence cause. Few will be as big as London 2012, but they will come. And if Nationalist voices have felt drowned out in the London 2012 clamour, they will make up for that with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. Get the picture albums of history ready, there are many more Kodak moments ahead.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.