I’m listening to a podcast of The Last Night of the Proms on web radio, from the BBC, as a way to relax from this morning. I usually don’t like some of the music from the regular proms, the pieces are often a bit too unfamiliar, esoteric and too highbrow.
But on the last night the audience let down their hair and have fun, as a reward for being a good audience during the season. By tradition, in the second half of LNAP they play the Sailors’ Hornpipe, and sing that old chestnut Rule Britania, then Jerusalem; there’s lots of balloon popping, whistle blowing, wearing of silly hats and champagne sploshing. They sway together to The Bride’s Chorus the way you or I might sway to The Maori Farewell. Its what kids have been doing at pop concerts for decades, whereas at classical concerts the stiff-necks rule
Traditionally the Proms finish with Land of Hope and Glory (Pomp and Circumstance), which gives the lads and lasses a chance to swell their chests, wave their flags and bang their party poppers (usually out of sync with the orchestra)
There’s six thousand in the Albert Hall singing and jigging, They have big screens around England with crowds of prommers who can’t make it into the Hall joining in, in outdoor places like Hyde Park, (30 000 people) plus Dublin and Scotland, with the picnikers singing along just as if they were in the hall.
At this moment they are singing ‘ You’ll never walk alone’, and bodies are swaying, and all the parks are joining in. It is delightfully emotional.
I’ll freely admit that I get a little moist-eyed at some of the songs each year as I listen to the LNOP. The audience shows that there’s pride in their nation and its not just patriotic jingoism.
I’m not up for flag-waving nationalism and raw tribalism of some countries and their anthem singing. However, I like living where I live and if it comes to international sporting events I like it when an Aussie player does the rivals over. But then after the game I want to enjoy a beer with the otherside; you never know, next time the Aussies might get done, and then its someone elses’ fans turn to shout.
The Brits have done Pride in Country well. Their spirit has taken many forms over the years, a bulldog, Swinging Britain, their spirit during the second world war. They have some traditions worth following. Especially their football club fan loyalty and colour wearing. (Go the Gunners)
I am against clubs’ hooligan violence, but the old time team songs sumg at astadium during play is enough to stir the blood. Just like the Kiwi Haka.
The only Aussie team song that comes close to having the same rallying power is the song of the Collingwood Aussie Rules team. In this video its sad to say they have to play a recorded version over the public address system, the fans don’t have enough oomph to do it themselves
I grind my teeth with ferocious embarrassment when I watch an Australian representative sporting team lined up before the game, ready for the national anthem, and its obvious the players don’t know the words.
I don’t expect a ‘last night at the proms’ on the sporting field, but something more than a shy mumble would be good.
But still, Aussies are young and free. We’ve only had 30 years to learn the words of our national anthem, so without a karaoke-like prompt, sportsmen can’t be expected to remember the whole 20 lines.