|JezUK Ltd - Went to bed rather late yesterday, and s ...|
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Went to bed rather late yesterday, and so heard Radio4 shut up shop for the evening. I'd forgotton that, rather charmingly, they head off into the night, or hand over to the World Service anyway, with a quick verse of the national anthem.
Our national anthem starts so well. There's a nice introductory drum roll, to let everyone have a bit of cough and a spit, but as soon as the words start it really falls away. It's just too slow. When ordinary untrained people sing slowly, we all tend to drop both volume and tone, which means sooner or later everyone has to jump up an octave or just silently slip off the bottom of their register. If the anthem was a bit perkier we would all stop trying to sound like Bryn Terfel (while actually sounding like a rather ill Lee Marvin) and just get on with job of singing.
The South Africa national anthem always sounds terrific, a fact I attribute largely to its pace. Of secondary importance, it has four verses in four different languages, so most people are singing most of it more or less phonetically. Consequently, people just get on with making a nice noise, without have having to, for example, make the word "our" last two seconds.
New Zealanders, on the other hand, generally seem a pretty cheerful bunch. Stumble on to a group of them singing God Defend New Zealand, though, and you might think you had interrupted the funeral of a not especially well-liked relative. It's no wonder the All Blacks do the haka afterwards, as it's probably the only way they can rouse themselves to play.
Of course, even if our anthem were a little perkier, there's the problem of the words. Now being Queen, or indeed King, isn't a job I would wish on anyone. You don't get to retire, obviously, you have to meet a lot of people you probably rather wouldn't and travel to places you'd rather not go to. It's a small consolation that at important national events people sing a song in your honour, but frankly I think it would be better all round if we let the Queen retire like a normal person. We could bin all the words about what a good egg the Queen is, and instead sing a good rousing song about how top it is being British. If we could leave God out too, that would be marvellous. Dontcha think?