I feel British again. Like many people, I had come to regard Britishness as an anachronism. In a post-colonial, post-industrial era, its totems seemed irrelevent and I retreated into an identity that was one part English (more specifically, southern English), one part European and one part world citizen. However, Danny Boyle has changed all that.
When I started watching the Olympic opening ceremony, I expected to be embarrassed. Last year's unveiling of the Countdown Clock in Trafalgar Square was an awkward, uncomfortable ramshackle affair that was as British as a man making love with his socks on. I squirmed at the awfulness of it.
But the opening ceremony was a triumph. It may have baffled 99% of the world, including most people under 25 in Britain, but Danny Boyle's vision was pitch perfect in its reinvention of Britishness for the 21st century.
I've read a lot about how the ceremony appealed to people on both the right and left, but for me the real acid test was my mother. She watched it with a group of people in their 80s, most of whom read the Daily Mail and think that there are too many 'coloureds' in Britain. What would they make of what Aidan Burley described as "multicultural crap"?
They loved it.
If I could have changed anything, I would have got rid of the Arctic Monkeys and had fewer people expressing things through the medium of contemporary dance, but the rest of the evening was a box of delights. I particularly enjoyed the spectacle of Dizzee Rascal singing 'Bonkers' to the Queen. It was also a wise move on Danny Boyle's part to give David Beckham a non-speaking role.
As for the Olympics itself, I'm completely impervious to sporting triumphs and feel quite indifferent to the growing tally of gold medals. I certainly don't feel proud to be British - I've never understood national pride. However, I suppose I would say that I'm quite happy to be living here. I can't imagine being anywhere else.
So as part of my celebration of Britishness, I thought I'd share some photos that I found in books during the last few weeks.
First, we have England:
On the back, someone has written 'Shaz'z 18th, January 1987'. There may be an 80s revival at the moment, but I haven't seen anyone who has had the courage to revive this look. Why would a teenage girl willingly make herself look 35?
Next, we celebrate the musical traditions of Wales:
The man on the right seems to be suffering from a moment of existential angst, which is not a good thing when you live in a small town.
On the subject of Wales, I found this Welsh version of Ladybird's 'Peter and Jane' series today. Jane is predictably Siân, but for some reason Peter has become Gareth and the dog is Carlo:
I studied Welsh at university and managed to achieved a record result for the lowest exam score in the subject.
Third, Scotland the brave:
This proud father looks slightly pregnant himself, rather like the famous 1970s poster and the haunted expression suggests that he isn't entirely at ease.
Finally, a celebration of family life:
This cover is from 'The Family Chord Songbook'. I'm sure that if Danny Boyle had had the time, he would have included some organ action.
Perhaps there'll be a spot at the closing ceremony, in between the bare knuckle fighting and the 'best-kept village' competition.