STILL WITH THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE Theme, of this week's Jubilee, there was a discussion on BBC radio 4 a couple of days ago about our national anthem and should we pack it off to the knackers yard and look for a more appropriate, up-to-date one. One suggestion was that people attending another of our nation institutions went wild every year at the last day of the PROMS, frantically waving union jacks and singing en mass the words of Rule Britannia. Hardly less arcane and Imperial than God Save, I'd have thought. But moderated slightly when we learn the original words were Britannia rule the waves, a maxim, not Britannia rules, an assertion. In spite of its doubtful and un Politically Correct words the gathered multitude, it seems, partakes with gusto in its much catchy, festive tune. Away with the Old, and on with the er.. slightly less Old?
Yet my mind went back...
Some years ago I went to a concert put on by the Bath Natural Theatre Co. led by the eccentrically talented, cross-dressng Ralph Oswick. We were issued at the door with small Union Jacks, and guessed we were in for a good time. A trio of musicians struck up the famous rollicking overture theme from William Tell - and we were off.... joining in with whatever make-believe instruments we could fashion. Dum-de-dum-de-drum, drum, drum. The climactic end to the evening was the waving of flags and the audience singing tops of voices, 'Rule Britannia, Britannia Waives the Rules, Britons never, never, never shall be Fools.'
Well, that's good enough for me. I'll vote for that.