Posted by: secretperson | September 13, 2008

The Proms – Best of British

I’ve just been listening to the Last Night of the Proms. Now I know that the Proms is one of the best classical music festivals in the world, and the true music lovers don’t just watch the last night, but hey, I do!

Political developments in recent times have left me cynical about Britishness. But tonight’s performance reminded me that over the 301 years of the Union, there have been some aspects of Britain that are well worth retaining, and the Proms is one of these things. While I do not want sacrifices made on my behalf by politicians to preserve the Union, and even if independence turns out to be the best political option, some things from our period as a Union will be worth keeping.

There is a shared history and connection with our nearest neighbours, which is nice, when free from intefering politicians. I remain completely against the European Union. Britain has the Proms, the EU has Eurovision. Need I say more?

The main (British?) Proms were in the Albert Hall, and there were four ‘Proms in the Park’ one in each of the four nations of the UK. There were many flags, the Union Jack, the Welsh Dragon, the Saltire, the Irish tricolour, French tricolour, Italian tricolour, the German flag, New Zealand flag, the White Horse of Kent and my own personal favourite, the Cross of St George.

Bryn Terfel led the solos and was brilliant. He did a piece from Verdi’s Falstaff in full costume from the opera. I never realised opera could be funny, but Terfel had the audience laughing. He also squeezed in a verse of Welsh in Rule, Britannia!. And Vaughan Williams’ Sea Songs was enjoyable.

Audience participation, rather than top down government, shows there is still some mileage in Britishness, at least as a cultural link. But don’t worry my fellow Englishmen, much as I enjoyed Rule, Britannia!, Land of Hope and Glory and God Save the Queen, they haven’t completely Britishised me. By far and away the best song of the night was the song that should be the English national anthem, Jerusalem.

The British glory of the Royal Albert Hall, will never mean quite as much to me as England’s Green and Pleasant Land.

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