A final word on the decision to remove the Red Road implosion from the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
Watching 17,000-odd people rush to sign a petition against the inclusion of the Red Road implosion as part of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, I was reminded of an interview by former Oasis front man Noel Gallagher a few years ago. During the interview – and in typically colourful Gallagher-esque language – he decried the creation of music purely to satisfy the needs of consumers and focus groups. “The public didn’t know it wanted Jimi Hendrix but he changed the world,” he says. “Consumers didn’t know they wanted Sergeant Pepper or the Sex Pistols. Consumers are idiots.”
If the Games organisers’ U-turn was – as it claims – based upon the likelihood of protests spreading police and security resources too thin to ensure public safety, then they have my 100 percent backing. Despite my own personal desire to see the blast go ahead, I fully understand the need to protect the public.
If, however, this decision has been made purely to acquiesce to the demands of an ill-informed public that was using the planned blast as the focal point for its anger about everything from the erosion of social housing to the rising cost of the Games themselves, then the public only has itself to blame.
In the immediate aftermath of the decision to include the five-storey blast in the ceremony, the Internet lit-up with misinformation, speculation and rabble-rousing. “Glasgow would be choked in a cloud of asbestos”. Erm, no. The asbestos was removed months ago, just as it had been on the previous two blocks that were safely imploded. “The cost of the blast had driven up the cost of the Games.” Sorry, no again. The removal of the Red Road flats was part of a framework agreement that was signed and sealed several years ago.
I have no doubt that the Games organisers will find something fitting to fill the 15-second gap left in their planned opening ceremony. And, given Glasgow’s notoriously unpredictable weather, perhaps we will look back at the U-turn and thank our lucky stars that they did.
Personally, though, I maintain that this is a missed opportunity. It was a bold, far-sighted, creative and innovative idea that has been – partially, at least – scuppered by a misinformed and misguided public and a local media too willing to leap aboard the naysayer bandwagon.
To those people I will echo Noel Gallagher and say just this. When creativity and innovation is allowed to flourish, you get Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, Prince and Nirvana. When you design by committee and focus group, you get Coldplay.
I rest my case.