Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Rule, Britannia!

 

“I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general bout of self-recrimination and wetness. I wanted to get that off my chest.”–Boris Johnson

Well, my dear Ricochet peeps, this is not the quote of the day post that I planned to lay on you when I went to bed last night. That one, a sweet little rumination on one of my favorite childhood authors, will have to wait.

Instead, I bring you heartening news from across the pond. News which concerns, of all things, that particular rite of British end-of-summer passage known as “The Last Night of the Proms.”

A bit of background: The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts (“the Proms”) are an annual series of classical summer concerts held at the Royal Albert Hall in London and broadcast by the BBC. The term ‘promenade’ is a throwback to the outdoor concerts of prior centuries, and here refers to the fact that the Hall, unusually, sells standing-room tickets for these concerts, so people are moving about much more than is typical at a classical music performance and the atmosphere is more relaxed than is usually the case at such events. That is particularly true each year on the “Last Night.”

The current series of promenade concerts traces its roots back to 1895 and the Queen’s Hall Orchestra conducted by 26-year old Henry Wood, funded by George Cathcart, a prominent London doctor, and managed by impresario Robert Newman. The concerts featuring accessible classical music and lower ticket prices than usual, proved popular and gained the then forty-two-year-old Henry Wood his knighthood in 1911.

The BBC took over the concert series in 1928, following Robert Newman’s death and the newly-formed BBC Symphony Orchestra took over the bulk of the performances. In 1947, Malcolm Sargent began his legendary career as Proms chief conductor, a position he held until 1966. He was the conductor of my childhood, the one I remember watching on Granny and Grandpa’s tiny black and white television with them when we were in the UK on the second Saturday in September, and the one I remember listening to on the old red short-wave transistor radio in Nigeria when we weren’t.

The Proms, as a series, remain popular still today, but “The Last Night of the Proms” has taken on a life of its own in popular culture and exists almost as a separate entity from the rest of the concerts. Its audience, both in-person in London and at associated “Proms in the Park” gatherings across the United Kingdom, is enormous. Its program, which was developed and set during Malcolm Sargent’s tenure, is lighter and more accessible even than the regular concert series, and is peppered with patriotic music and song, including “Pomp and Circumstance March #1” (Elgar), “Rule, Britannia” (Arne), “Jerusalem” (Parry), and the national anthem. The first contains, as part of its score, the music for which the words of the song “Land of Hope and Glory” were written. The second needs no explanation. The third is the music written for William Blake’s poem. And the national anthem is what it’s been since before 1831 when a man from the former Massachusetts Bay Colony stole the melody and put the words of “America: My Country ‘Tis of Thee” to it.

Well.

I’m sure, by now, that you’re beginning to spot the worm at the core of the apple, the serpent in the garden, the fly in the ointment. That which makes it impossible, in these woke times, for “The Last Night of the Proms” to continue any longer in its current form and content.

Patriotic. Songs.

The BBC (click here if you’d like to learn more about the very active, and increasingly popular, grass-roots campaign to “Defund the BBC”), in the audience-less age of Covid-19 and under real or imagined pressure from the social justice Left, has announced that this year’s “Last Night” although it will still feature “Rule, Britannia” and “Land of Hope and Glory,” will do so without lyrics. For once, even The Guardian sees through the charade:

The traditional flag-waving anthems Rule Britannia and Land of Hope of Glory could be dropped from the Last Night of the Proms because of their perceived links with colonialism and slavery.

The BBC is reportedly considering whether to axe the patriotic staples in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, and the Covid restrictions are seen as an opportunity to make the change.

In the immortal words of Rahm Emmanuel, “never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Although the BBC backed off its initial announcement that the songs would likely be dropped–probably a trial balloon–the subsequent announcement that they would just not be sung has not sat well with the Great British Public. Or, apparently, with its Prime Minister. (To give you an idea of the affection in which these traditions are held, and the enthusiasm, good humor, and spirit of fun in which they take place, here’s “Rule, Britannia,” from the 2011 Last Night. Trigger warning: The song contains two words “rule,” and “slaves” which are about to consign it to the ash-heap of history. Hide your children, stiffen your spines, and consider yourselves warned):

Enter, Stage Right, the actor Laurence Fox. And a lady and national icon I’ve written about here many times before.

And . . . it’s done.

Two months after her death at the age of 103, Dame Vera Lynn has once again topped the British music download charts and will, one supposes, have to be played on the BBC, on this upcoming weekend’s pops countdown program.

From the Telegraph:

Land of Hope and Glory has been propelled to the top of the charts by campaigners amid a growing backlash against the BBC’s choice of music for the Last Night of the Proms.

The corporation was accused of “panicking” about race after announcing that only orchestral versions of the rousing patriotic anthems would be performed at next month’s event.

As Lord Hall, the BBC’s outgoing director-general, admitted they had considered ditching the songs because of their association with Britain’s imperial history, almost 25,000 people signed a petition demanding they be saved.

Laurence Fox, the outspoken actor, led calls for the licence fee to be scrapped while Alok Sharma, the business secretary, urged the BBC to show subtitles amid a mounting campaign for a living room sing-along.

Here, apparently, is where the rot started:

The decision to buck tradition and reinvent the finale of the Proms season began when Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska, who is conducting the Last Night, and David Pickard, the BBC Proms director, discussed changing the repertoire to reflect the international debates about racism.

No idea who “Dalia Stasevska” is, but perhaps she needs to start her own series of concerts somewhere else and stop ordering the British about. From the Guardian article linked above: “‘Dalia is a big supporter of Black Lives Matter and thinks a ceremony without an audience is the perfect moment to bring change,’ a BBC source told the Sunday Times.”

My native country disagrees.

Well done, Laurence Fox, Boris Johnson, and the late, great, Dame Vera Lynn.

Here she is:

Dad would be so proud. Somewhere, he’s applauding from the wings.

Gagara Yasin. (Loose translation: “Back atcha, BBC!”)

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  1. Arahant Member

    Well, both Boris’ quotation and the bit of news about Vera Lynn at the top of the charts are just lovely. The Beeb, not so much.


    This is the Quote of the Day. We have had a somewhat British theme lately. If you have a quotation you would like to share, or perhaps have a bee in your bonnet that a quotation can serve, why not sign up for a date in September?

    • #1
    • August 26, 2020, at 3:48 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. MarciN Member

    What a wonderful and hopeful story! What great news. Thank you. 

    • #2
    • August 26, 2020, at 5:53 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The British Broadcasting Corporation became the British Broadcasting Corporation when there was a British Empire upon which the sun never set. It was a government-mandated arm of that empire, is to be associated with all of the evils that the Empire inflicted on the world (rule of law, representative democracy, freedom of speech, right of the accused to face his accusers, and similar barbarities) and therefore must be cancelled forthwith.

    • #3
    • August 26, 2020, at 6:18 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  4. JoelB Member

    I always enjoy these little glimpses of life across the pond.

    • #4
    • August 26, 2020, at 6:39 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I might be in love . . .

    • #5
    • August 26, 2020, at 6:58 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  6. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Beeb is a cultural anachronism in today’s world – media funded by UK taxes. At least it’s better produced than Pravda.

    • #6
    • August 26, 2020, at 8:12 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    The Beeb is a cultural anachronism in today’s world – media funded by UK taxes. At least it’s better produced than Pravda.

    Dude, have you seen the last two seasons of “Doctor Who?”

    These jokers couldn’t produce a two-wagon caravan. In the name of “draft animal diversity,” one of the wagons would be drawn by an ostrich.

    • #7
    • August 26, 2020, at 8:17 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    The Beeb is a cultural anachronism in today’s world – media funded by UK taxes. At least it’s better produced than Pravda.

    Dude, have you seen the last two seasons of “Doctor Who?”

    These jokers couldn’t produce a two-wagon caravan. In the name of “draft animal diversity,” one of the wagons would be drawn by an ostrich.

    Better produced than Pravda ≠ “Well produced or worth watching”.

    It’s rather like saying “A 1979 British Leyland Car was better made than an Trabant.” This is a factual statement. Both cars in that statement were terribly made, but you are allowed to have degrees of awfulness.

    • #8
    • August 26, 2020, at 8:32 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):
    Dude, have you seen the last two seasons of “Doctor Who?”

    And I gave up on the “New Who” before David Tennant finished his run. A few good episodes here and there, but largely terrible and getting worse.

    • #9
    • August 26, 2020, at 8:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. KirkianWanderer Coolidge

    She (View Comment):

    I might be in love . . .

    Laurence Fox is an interesting guy, he was very good on Lewis, but I suspect after all of his (very intelligent) outspokenness there shall be no Inspector Hathaway. 

    • #10
    • August 26, 2020, at 8:40 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. KirkianWanderer Coolidge

    It’s been a strange and kind of rough year in England over all (the suddenness with which lockdown came on, the very real fear about what might have to happen with an election when Boris fell seriously ill, worries about the capacity of the NHS, etc), so I was happy in the grand scheme of things to see that the Proms were going to happen at all. I was particularly disappointed for the trooping of the colour not to happen this year, because I enjoy the very traditional and slightly over the top parts of British political/monarchical culture, but it was nice that some fun parts of summer in Britain still went ahead, even in a modified way. 

    • #11
    • August 26, 2020, at 8:48 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Dude, have you seen the last two seasons of “Doctor Who?”

    And I gave up on the “New Who” before David Tennant finished his run. A few good episodes here and there, but largely terrible and getting worse.

    It’s like watching a train wreck.

    • #12
    • August 26, 2020, at 8:52 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Dude, have you seen the last two seasons of “Doctor Who?”

    And I gave up on the “New Who” before David Tennant finished his run. A few good episodes here and there, but largely terrible and getting worse.

    It’s like watching a train wreck.

    Train wrecks are less self-righteous.

    • #13
    • August 26, 2020, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. KentForrester Moderator

    You know, She, I choked up a bit when the audience, waving flags, sang their part so enthusiastically. I watched the whole thing and that slow down, full-throated “Rule Brittania” that concludes the program is wonderful. 

    • #14
    • August 26, 2020, at 9:15 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Some Call Me ...Tim Coolidge

    Dear She,

    Thank you for a wonderful post and a glimpse into what it means to be British. A She-post is guaranteed to be interesting and entertaining.

    Like @kirkianwanderer, I like a bit of pomp and circumstance – and nobody does it better that the British. Years ago, Mrs. Tim and I happened to be in London for the official celebration of the Queen’s birthday and were lucky enough to see Queen Elizabeth II ride by on her horse. I managed to get a picture of her riding by, which now hangs on our wall.

    Sincerely,

    Tim

    • #15
    • August 26, 2020, at 9:36 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  16. Vectorman Member

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):
    It’s been a strange and kind of rough year in England over all (the suddenness with which lockdown came on, the very real fear about what might have to happen with an election when Boris fell seriously ill, worries about the capacity of the NHS, etc), so I was happy in the grand scheme of things to see that the Proms were going to happen at all.

    I heard that Boris is not doing well with his recovery from COVID, and is considering stepping down.

    • #16
    • August 26, 2020, at 9:41 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):
    It’s been a strange and kind of rough year in England over all (the suddenness with which lockdown came on, the very real fear about what might have to happen with an election when Boris fell seriously ill, worries about the capacity of the NHS, etc), so I was happy in the grand scheme of things to see that the Proms were going to happen at all.

    I heard that Boris is not doing well with his recovery from COVID, and is considering stepping down.

    I saw that to, and that it’s been strenuously denied by Team BoJo. I haven’t looked into it. I suppose it might be true or it might be disinformation from the other side. 

    • #17
    • August 26, 2020, at 9:53 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. KirkianWanderer Coolidge

    She (View Comment):

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):
    It’s been a strange and kind of rough year in England over all (the suddenness with which lockdown came on, the very real fear about what might have to happen with an election when Boris fell seriously ill, worries about the capacity of the NHS, etc), so I was happy in the grand scheme of things to see that the Proms were going to happen at all.

    I heard that Boris is not doing well with his recovery from COVID, and is considering stepping down.

    I saw that to, and that it’s been strenuously denied by Team BoJo. I haven’t looked into it. I suppose it might be true or it might be disinformation from the other side.

    By the looks of it, the disinformation (if it is that) isn’t coming from the other side, but from allies of Dominic Cummings. The Tory Party is still quite different than Labour, and while Boris is popular, he’s also had his fair share of gaffes and scandals, and made some enemies with his personal and professional conduct; I think there are a not insignifiant number of members of the 1922 Committee that wouldn’t shed too many tears over Boris leaving, especially if they can push him out for ‘humane’ reasons (new father struggling with the aftereffects of COVID). Even if this isn’t the end, I doubt Boris has the staying power of a Thatcher, and will probably end up resigning or being voted out of the leadership within the next few years, because once Brexit is fully negotiated the Party will want to move on to someone less bombastic and more details oriented.

    • #18
    • August 26, 2020, at 10:05 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Dude, have you seen the last two seasons of “Doctor Who?”

    And I gave up on the “New Who” before David Tennant finished his run. A few good episodes here and there, but largely terrible and getting worse.

    It’s like watching a train wreck.

    Train wrecks are less self-righteous.

    Train wrecks don’t usually have the engineer repeatedly saying “No, no … I’ve got this.”

    • #19
    • August 26, 2020, at 10:51 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    I watched a program on Amazon Prime last night called (I think) The Lost Empire. Beginning with Victoria’s reign, it went into detail about the mistakes the British have made with the colonies over the years and how the empire was lost through wars, desires for independence and so on. It was mostly depressing, but here, thanks to you dear She, we find hope that there will always be an England. 

    • #20
    • August 26, 2020, at 11:05 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. The Cynthonian Member

    @She, when did Boris say this (your quote)? The London Calling guys were apoplectic about this on Monday, so I hope they’re relieved that a) Boris defended the tradition with the original lyrics and b) the Vera Lynn chart-topper occurred.

    I love Laurence Fox too! Did you see his performance as the Machiavellian Lord Palmerston in the “Victoria” biopic miniseries that was shown on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater? Definitely well-done.

    • #21
    • August 26, 2020, at 12:03 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Cynthonian (View Comment):

    @She, when did Boris say this (your quote)? The London Calling guys were apoplectic about this on Monday, so I hope they’re relieved that a) Boris defended the tradition with the original lyrics and b) the Vera Lynn chart-topper occurred.

    I love Laurence Fox too! Did you see his performance as the Machiavellian Lord Palmerston in the “Victoria” biopic miniseries that was shown on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater? Definitely well-done.

    According to the papers, he must have said it yesterday.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-53902065

    I didn’t see him in Victoria (Fox, not Boris). Loved him in Lewis.

    • #22
    • August 26, 2020, at 12:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    I watched a program on Amazon Prime last night called (I think) The Lost Empire. Beginning with Victoria’s reign, it went into detail about the mistakes the British have made with the colonies over the years and how the empire was lost through wars, desires for independence and so on. It was mostly depressing, but here, thanks to you dear She, we find hope that there will always be an England.

    Thanks. Looks like it was called “Empire Lost.” (There’s a movie called “The Lost Empire,” but the summary says: “In a land in a distant past, three beautiful women, members of a lost tribe, battle a mad genius with diabolical plans to destroy their “Lost Empire.” If the victor can find the sacred jewels they [!] can anticipate total power. A classic early 80’s romp and exploitation classic.” Doubt that’s the one you’re referring to.)

    It’s my fondest hope that there always will be an England. Dame Vera, of course, had that covered too:

    PS: A terrific book on the British Empire, with a focus on Asia is Peter Hopkirk’s The Great Game. From the Amazon reviews:

    In a phrase coined by Captain Arthur Connolly of the East India Company before he was beheaded in Bokhara for spying in 1842, a “Great Game” was played between Tsarist Russia and Victorian England for supremacy in Central Asia. At stake was the security of India, key to the wealth of the British Empire. When play began early in the 19th century, the frontiers of the two imperial powers lay two thousand miles apart, across vast deserts and almost impassable mountain ranges; by the end, only 20 miles separated the two rivals.

    …an extraordinary story of ambition, intrigue, and military adventure. [Hopkirk’s] sensational narrative moves at breakneck pace, yet even as he paints his colorful characters–tribal chieftains, generals, spies, Queen Victoria herself–he skillfully provides a clear overview of the geographical and diplomatic framework. The Great Game was Russia’s version of America’s “Manifest Destiny” to dominate a continent, and Hopkirk is careful to explain Russian viewpoints as fully as those of the British. The story ends with the fall of Tsarist Russia in 1917…

    I will confess, that upon first acquaintance, I had to buy a huge map of Asia, pin it to the wall, and put notes and little flag-pins all over it, rather like the maps in Churchill’s war room, to help me keep everything straight, because it’s not a part of the world I was all that familiar with. But it’s a riveting read.

    • #23
    • August 26, 2020, at 12:31 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  24. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She (View Comment):

    The Cynthonian (View Comment):

    @She, when did Boris say this (your quote)? The London Calling guys were apoplectic about this on Monday, so I hope they’re relieved that a) Boris defended the tradition with the original lyrics and b) the Vera Lynn chart-topper occurred.

    I love Laurence Fox too! Did you see his performance as the Machiavellian Lord Palmerston in the “Victoria” biopic miniseries that was shown on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater? Definitely well-done.

    According to the papers, he must have said it yesterday.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-53902065

    I didn’t see him in Victoria (Fox, not Boris). Loved him in Lewis.

    But the BBC says the decision was prompted by Covid-19 restrictions.

    You can do the orchestra, but a choir is just too complicated?

    • #24
    • August 26, 2020, at 1:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    What a wonderful and hopeful story! 

    Not to mention glorious!

    • #25
    • August 26, 2020, at 2:24 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. KirkianWanderer Coolidge

    She (View Comment):

    The Cynthonian (View Comment):

    @She, when did Boris say this (your quote)? The London Calling guys were apoplectic about this on Monday, so I hope they’re relieved that a) Boris defended the tradition with the original lyrics and b) the Vera Lynn chart-topper occurred.

    I love Laurence Fox too! Did you see his performance as the Machiavellian Lord Palmerston in the “Victoria” biopic miniseries that was shown on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater? Definitely well-done.

    According to the papers, he must have said it yesterday.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-53902065

    I didn’t see him in Victoria (Fox, not Boris). Loved him in Lewis.

    He was the perfect foil to Robbie in Lewis, just like Robbie had been to Morse in Inspector Morse, although with a different flavor. He (and Johnny Flynn) is a pretty talented folk/indie folk musician, in addition to being a spectacular actor.

    • #26
    • August 26, 2020, at 2:26 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  27. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    @LozzaFox is really worth a follow on Twitter if you’re so inclined.

    • #27
    • August 26, 2020, at 2:49 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She,

    Vera is still our girl. Always.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #28
    • August 26, 2020, at 4:24 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  29. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member