Fans waving Union Jack flags during individual dressage grand prix at London 2012 Olympic Games
Britain, at times, sits uncomfortably with success.
That's not to say it isn't thoroughly enjoyed, but savouring it doesn't come naturally to a nation of people who prefer a quiet collective anonymity to public displays of individualism.
And that makes the undisputed - and yet indisputably British - success of these Olympic Games all the more remarkable.
Danny Boyle's eclectically brilliant opening ceremony - the "Isles of Wonder" - lifted the curtain on the global sporting jamboree in classic British fashion: with understatement, irony and more than a touch of self-deprecation: the "world's biggest inside joke", as the Washington Post noted.
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But then - something strange happened. The Games was working. The Games was fun.
The Games (whisper it) might even be cool.
The jokes we had all prepared (perhaps as defence mechanism to help ease the pain of either sporting or organisational failure) were no longer appropriate and "Britain's Games" could scarcely be more of a success.
Perfect British summer
Suddenly the most wretched weather on record broke, the months-old clouds parted and the sporting gods gave us two weeks of perfect British summer that delayed not a single event over the Olympic fortnight.
Hundreds of thousands of flag-waving fans - many if not most without tickets to other events - lined the streets of London for the opening weekends' cycling competition that delivered Britain's first medal.
And then the floodgates opened.
"Rule Britannia" seemed to play on an endless loop as 28 athletes collected gold medals - including three within an hour of each other at the Olympic Stadium on the most electric night of athletics - "Super Saturday" - in British sporting history.
And then, in a remarkably macabre bit of humour worthy of Larry David, the nation was taken immediately - live on the BBC - from the ecstasy of Mo Farah's scintillating 10,000 metre victory to the inevitably depressing loss (on penalties, of course) by the newly minted British football team.
But it didn't really matter. In fact, the loss was actually preferable, in that it kept the nation's focus firmly fixed on the amateur athletes - and their families - that always define the Games.
Andy Murray smashes the gloom
Besides, any gloom from the loss on grass in Cardiff was soothed by a stunningly dominating win on the very same surface - in Wimbledon, if not at Wimbledon - by Britain's Andy Murray in the men's tennis final.
Games success hasn't been limited to the competition, either.
Having endured months of media debate over the organisers' preparedness - and perhaps having circled the metaphorical wagons after some mild criticism by US presidential candidate Mitt Romney - London suddenly became Zurich: clockwork transport and security measures ferried millions of visitors to all points of the capital (and beyond) without incident - a feat even the most jaded London commuter would have to grudgingly concede as impressive.
Equally so the BBC.
Grumble as Britons might over the annual £145 "licence fee" (a TV tax by any other name) Auntie certainly earns her stripes during big events such as this. The BBC's ground-breaking digital feast - which broadcast virtually every moment of the Games live - was as stark a contrast as you'll find to the breathtakingly parochial decision by NBC to carry the bulk of its Olympic coverage via tape delay.
In fact, if digital thievery is the highest form of flattery, then it would be hard to argue that the BBC's coverage (and commentary) is the best in the world: it's getting nicked online by views from Tokyo to Tierra del Feugo.
There's been an undoubted political dimension to the Games, as well, and one that's been exceedingly healthy for a nation marking the grim one-year anniversary of urban rioting that raised incredibly difficult questions about its relationships with youth, race and culture.
The Super Saturday of athletics was a tone-perfect counterpoint to the angst of 2011's riots as Britain celebrated the achievements of an East African immigrant, a mixed-race woman from the North of England and a perfectly spoken young man from the so-called "middle class".
Even the Union Jack - reprehensibly appropriated by the far right for so many years - is once again the unembarrassed preserve of the majority.
Lawmakers are also seizing on the undisputed social power of athletic achievement and (perhaps reflecting their inability to do anything about the dire state of the economy) have launched a passionate and non-partisan debate over the Games' permanent sporting legacy, which just happens to be exactly what London Olympic chairman Sebastian Coe hoped for when he took control of the event six years ago.
Losing to Australia
That's not to say it's been a perfect event.
Ticketing issues, while certainly not the "fiasco" of some overzealous headline writers, were nonetheless seen as deeply unfair to a nation that hates queue-jumping almost as much as it hates losing to Australia. The overbearing corporate control of official Games' sponsors bordered on the Orwellian and suspicions of drug use by certain athletes - as well as medals won by convicted drug cheats - were reminders of the dark side of global sporting competition.
Thankfully, the most powerful images from London will be those that remind us of the opposite: South African swimmer Chad le Clos's tearful medal ceremony and his father's unhinged joy; Usain Bolt's playful victory celebrations that engaged fans and avoided bravado; Katie Taylor's surgical precision in the women's boxing ring and the endearingly passionate roar of her Irish supporters.
Normal service will resume, of course. It always does. Britain is pinned in a recession it seems incapable of escaping, its government could be on the verge of collapse and its simmering social and racial tensions could once again explode into violence. And, it's worth remembering, the two-week party cost around £13bn.
If London 2012's legacy survives, it might prove to be a small price for Britain to pay to discover - and display - its true identity.
Martin Baccardax is business editor of IBTimes UK
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