OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: It's the same city, same postcode, just a different world
IT was small but perfectly formed, rather noisy but rather brilliant, full stop on a wonderful but unfortunately not a never-ending story.
RIOT OF COLOUR: British musical gave London's Olympics a rousing send-off at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Games
After show parties are invariably followed by a thumping hangover and London's Olympic closing ceremony, which brought the curtain down on 17 storied days in a riot of colour and expensively assembled musical mash-up, was no different.
A Winston Churchill figure made an appearance, dramatically rising out of Big Ben and rarely has one of his victory signals been more appropriate.
British athletes didn't just overachieve on their expectations, they rewrote the record books to finish third on the medal table. They lived up to their expensive branding, they were indeed Our Greatest Team.
Ben Ainslie secured his place as the most decorated sailor from these Isle since Horatio Nelson, Sir Chris Hoy installed himself firmly in the pantheon of all-time Olympic greats and Mo Farah probably defined these Games more than any British athlete with two sensational golds.
And those who say you don't win silver you lose gold haven't meet Lizzie Armitstead or Michael Jamieson or Samantha Murray.
While cynics that claim bronze should be titled second loser weren't there when Sam Oldham, Daniel Purvis, Louis Smith, Kristian Thomas and Max Whitlock defied every convention of their sport to win team gymnastics bronze.
Prudence dictates and reality insists that for some the success of an Olympics will always be evaluated in audience share, return on investment or podium performance.
But these Games should be measured in more than just gold, silver and bronze, an investment of £9.3 billion demands nothing less.
So what did we learn in the last two weeks?
Quite a lot of stuff we knew already, like Usain Bolt is a pretty quick runner, Michael Phelps certainly can swim, Great Britain aren't very good at handball and for some athletes every competition, no matter its disappointments, is just 'part of the process'.
But the real benefits of these Games are not tangible and can’t be measured by the columns of a medal table.
It's people finally talking to each other rather than staring straight ahead on the Tube.
It's inspiring those of all ages to give their time freely as volunteers - even if the job is directing tired, hungry and sometime irritable media to their bus home.
It's reclaiming our national flag from those who think it an unsavoury symbol of nationalism and racism.
It’s having a dream, derided by some, doubted by many, but staying the course and delivering against the odds.
It's about - in a bold vision still far from realised - actually inspiring a generation, a fine slogan that will take as much work as it took to stage these Games in time, effort, endeavour and money to achieve.
This was London folks but not as we know it.
Exactly the same postcode, totally different world. Let’s hope it lasts as reality bites that these golden days of summer are now just a cherished memory.
© Sportsbeat 2012