Having been away at the weekend in a particularly beautiful corner of our green and pleasant land I didn't get a chance to write something about Friday night's extravaganza, and now that I do you're all sick of reading about it. But indulge me.
I can remember the moment when I first started to get excited about the opening ceremony. It was when Danny Boyle gave his first press conference on it, a couple of months ago. It wasn't so much the themes or ideas he presented - the meadow and so on - as what he said. He said (something to the effect of), "We hope it's going to an amazing show." Then, with a grin, "Though of course, it could be disastrous." Ah, I thought. This is going to be interesting.
The only way that anyone gets anything brilliant done is by being utterly prepared to fail utterly. Try too hard to eliminate the possibility of ignominy and you end up with - at best - the mediocre.
Seb Coe and LOCOG faced up to the possibility of grand failure when they hired Boyle, rather than appointing someone with lower status or less creative zeal. The safe option would have been a former Disney executive, content to be the tool of various political interests rather than actually imposing a creative vision on the event. LOCOG deserve great credit for their boldness.
As does Boyle, of course. But then, he is nothing if not bold. When you look at his career, what strikes you is its almost reckless bravery. Take Edinburgh's heroin subculture and turn it into comedy? Sure. Use Mumbai's poverty-stricken slums as the backdrop to sexy, splashy love story? Sure. Reinvent Frankenstein for the stage? Sure, why not? Where others qualify, quail and fudge, Boyle goes for it. His defining artistic virtue is that he is not afeard.
And as the quotation he chose to open proceedings implies, what Boyle produced on Friday night was not just the result of fearlessness, it was also a tribute to it.
Four years ago, after Beijing staged the opening ceremony to end all opening ceremonies, there was, in Britain, a collective sucking-in of breath and shaking of heads. "We'll never match that," people said. Of course, they were right in a way. Beijing was the culmination and zenith of a particular approach to opening ceremonies, in which nations attempt to present tightly controlled, official versions of their identity and history, and to impress - even intimidate - with quasi-military displays of regimentation. If London had tried to match Beijing's astonishing feats of coordinated human endeavour, it would have come off badly. But that was never going to be our forte anyway; it wouldn't have been true to who we are.
Instead, London did something different, which exposed the weaknesses of the Beijing approach, and - ultimately - the drawbacks of autocracy. It introduced humour, irreverence, and self-deprecation. It celebrated physical inadequacy as well as athletic endeavour. It allowed the Sex Pistols and the Queen to co-exist. It presented a nation made up of lots of (often competing) stories, rather than just one (the BBC's brilliant camera work, under Boyle's direction, emphasised this, giving us an individual, on-the-ground perspective, and keeping the bird's eye macro-shots to a minimum). It said, it's OK to be disabled or eccentric or angry or slightly nuts. You won't be excluded from polite society.
Ultimately, Friday night was about what it's like to live in a country that has maintained freedom of expression for a thousand years or so. It's unpredictable, messy, and somewhat confusing. It can be scary if you're in charge, because you never quite know what's going to happen next or who is going to be upset by it or whether your authority will be undermined. But the point is to be confident that it will work out - to not be afraid.
One of my favourite moments (among many) was The Arctic Monkeys doing "Come Together". Like John Lennon (the ghost of whom was summoned by Alex Turner) the subject of the song is irredeemably individual. He's long-haired and shoeshineless, and perhaps, being bereft of religion or official ideology, somewhat confused. He doesn't really know anything except this: one thing I can tell you is you got to be free.
It could have been disastrous, and that's what made it a success. I expect it did all look a little mad to the eyes of the world. But then, to adapt the words of another of the night's stars, Dizzee Rascal: "People say we're bonkers, but we just think we're free."