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Glasgow 2014: End of the affair ?¦ but world feels the love and laughter

IT started with a kiss.

The love affair with the 2014 Commonwealth Games was sparked on a balmy evening at Celtic Park in the faraway days of late July with John Barrowman having that now-famous snog with a male dancer.

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And the increasingly harmonious relationship between country and Games was celebrated last night in the sort of party that was made for a carry-out and was also the repository of all the essentials of Scots entertainment, save Uncle Wullie doing that trick with his false teeth.

"The best Games ever'', according to Prince Imran of Malaysia, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, was brought to a shuddering close by a raucous celebration.

Those doing a wee turn at Hampden Park after 11 days of competition included Kylie Minogue, Lulu, Deacon Blue, Prides, Karen Matheson, Dougie Maclean singing Caledonia and a piper who led Auld Lang Syne.

It was entitled All Back to Ours. There was also the backdrop of a love-story set in Glasgow, there were the themes of the desire for peace and the need for community, and there was praise and gratitude. All this serious stuff, though, was a bit of a front, maybe just an excuse to party like it was 2014.

Nobody could doubt the sincerity of Glasgow's charitable works or the desire for friendship.

But on a Hampden pitch that has not looked as chaotic since the heady days of the pitch invasion at the end of 1980 Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Rangers, this was Caledonian karaoke with a chorus of Wha's Like Us.

This was a concerted hymn to the realisation that the Commonwealth Games had come and they had gone - but they had been magic. This was a mass, cheery acknowledgement that a country and a city had invited visitors from all over the world and had just been ever so slightly surprised that everyone enjoyed it.

It was the sort of Scottish party that is only spoiled by someone mentioning the unpleasantness at Auntie Sadie's funeral or by one of the youngsters spiking the fruit punch. Both these incidents were mercifully absent from a Hampden that luxuriated in singalonga Scotland.

Like the Games, it all passed in a good-humoured, occasionally shambling style.

Glasgow's motto, of course, runs: Here is the bird that never flew, here is the tree that never grew, here is the bell that never rang, here is the fish that never swam.

Glasgow 2014 had the bus that never arrived, the queue that only grew, the road that could not be walked, the car that would not be parked, and the cynic who was always narked.

This was all overcome, of course, as the city was slowly submerged in a tidal wave of enthusiasm normally reserved for news that Greggs has been given a drinks licence and wee Kylie, of whom more later, is behind the bar.

However, the Games had its serious purpose and its protocol. More than £5 million has already been raised for Unicef projects by the game-changer that was the text appeal on opening day.

Glasgow and Scotland, too, did not shirk from its part in a violent colonial past, and that gay kiss on the opening night was brave in confronting the homophobia prevalent in so much of the Commonwealth.

There was also a lot of running, throwing, jumping, shooting and faffing about in shorts and vest. And very good it was, too. There was the daily handing out of medals for the best sporting turns and Scotland took 53 of them. But there also had to be formalities last night and these were observed mostly with an air of celebration rather than in any po-faced manner.

Lord Smith of Kelvin spoke of a nation's heart ''filled with pride'' and Prince Imran, who was drowned out at the mere mention of Team Scotland, gave the Dixon award, recognising sporting excellence and fair play, to Frankie Jones, the rhythmic gymnast from Wales.

There was the thank-you to the athletes and the debt of gratitude to the volunteers, followed by the solemn passing over of the Commonwealth Games flag by the Earl of Essex, vice-president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, to Australia's Gold Coast.

This lasted 12 minutes, perhaps a world record for this type of sporting housekeeping, but seemed much longer.

There was also an extended travelogue on the Gold Coast, the next hosts. This was met with the polite applause granted to the well-meaning but ever-so-slightly boring.

It was the home turns - the members of the family with their party favourites - that galvanised the show. On a stage constructed to pay tribute to the Barrowland, Lulu opened the party with the sort of number that deserves the title showstopper. She belted out Shout with all the commitment of a maw advising her offspring to desist from midgie-raking in the back court.

The athletes emerged from under canvas on hearing the Dennistoun diva, a tribute no doubt to the Glasgow tradition of loitering within tent. One did not know if the energised athletes streaming on to Hampden Park were enthused by her singing or sprinting because they were scared by it. She was brilliant, but.

Then there was Deacon Blue paying tribute to the city workers who "made these Games a reality'' by singing Dignity. More than 200 workers entered the arena under a banner of Let Glasgow Flourish with the sort of smiles that were all the more commendable for being visible on a Sunday shift without double time.

The Prides then performed a song in tribute to the Clydesiders, the Games volunteers. There was the intoxicating sound of the marvellous Karen Matheson singing Ae Fond Kiss.

And there was Oor Kylie, the wee stoater, rattling through seven songs as if she was on piecework and illustrating a love story on a typical night out in Glasgow. It ended with a kiss: the Smooch.

This symmetry of snogging seemed to consign the Games to history but there was the odd moment for reflection inside a Hampden that reverberated to the party, with the crowd reprising a series of roars, only stilled by moments of formality.

There may be a pertinent observation about the country's flagbearer. The annals of sporting history sing to the tunes of glory composed by Muhammad The Greatest Ali, Usain Lightning Bolt and Michael Air Jordan.

Scotland has Alex Tattie Marshal. This nickname carries more than a hint of national self-deprecation but it is also attached to someone who is simply one of the best bowlers in the world. He is seriously good but not over-serious about it.

Glasgow 2014 was similarly serious in its intent to find the best, to roar on the winners, to console the also-rans, but also typically open about having a bit of a laugh about it. The party last night sang to this Glesca.

It was never a wake, though the Friendly Games, the People's Games, the Glasgow Games are deceased. Prince Imran declared them by royal warrant: ''Pure dead brilliant.''

The party's over. The hangover starts today.

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