At last! Something we can all dance to. 

One of my author friends who resides in Canterbury, Kent one of the prettiest parts of England, called me up last week for the usual bit of chit chat. These chats have been going on since I married my beautiful Irish wife and settled down in Wicklow which, ironically has the same appendage as Kent, both being the respective gardens of their counties. Strange coincidence I once thought.

‘Did you now that the Queen’s just hit 90,’ he said and my initial reaction was to wonder which county she played for. But cricket or not, 90 is, you’d have to admit, an impressive innings for any of us.

And fair play to her I thought, though when you think about it dear old Liz probably couldn’t spell the word stress. And it’s even more admirable when you consider her lifetime of official duties where she is expected to perform the onerous task of placing one foot in front of the other, downing five course banquets and that’s just her breakfast, the world’s biggest council house with no mortgage worries and the entire medical know-how of Harley Street at your beck and call if you so much as fart twice in rapid, royal, succession. Moreover there is more chance of the Greeks paying tax then there ever is of Liz being handed her royally sealed P45.

James, over the years has become my English equivalent of ‘Our man in Havanna.’ Anyway during our chat he informed that that were serious moves being made by ‘Certain Persons’ to do away with the current British National Anthem. This was music to my ears, no pun intended, and I know that my many Irish friends have similar misgivings about their own twenty four national anthems.

To be honest with you ‘God Save The Queen’ and all that has never really sat that easily upon my shoulders and I’d readily admit that I wouldn’t be caught dead singing it even if we beat the Frenchies twenty six nil in this year’s European Championships final in the Staide de France with fifteen hand balls, nine offsides , one own goal and a fifty yard header by Emil Heskey….Ok maybe I  might.

But the fact is that most national anthems are all bit, well embarrassing aren’t they? Not to mention archaic. Many of them either trumpet long ago colonial victories or attempt to rouse a downtrodden people from their slumber and to raise up against the tyrant blah de blah….you get the picture. The English National anthem therefore may have meant something five hundred years ago when we were an actual global superpower bestriding our empire like Henry VIII in a codpiece the size of County Galway. But that was back in the day.

Today it’s sung mainly by school children and only because they’ll bloody well sing it if ‘they know what’s good for them.’

This all got me thinking about national anthems in general and how they could all be made a bit more, I don’t know, right on. Because as we all know the world today has slowly morphed into one giant single cosmopolitan branch of Wallmart which begs the question: is there really any need for them at all in their current form?

Of course I can totally see the attraction of getting your hands on a passport by putting your right arm across your heart, reciting a few lines of the constitution before having to sing a couple of verses of some dodgy song that could never in anyway shape or form ever be released as a single. It’s eminently more preferable to marrying some grossly overweight local bird whose gonna come at you for at least one single lump sum or monthly maintenance payments once she realises that you didn’t ever really love her.

But there’s a simple solution to all of this and the fun bit is that everybody can join in and vote for it. Not only that but what’s to stop the national anthem being changed every year or so depending on the musical mood? One year a soul version, the next pure disco and even throw in a punk track now and again.

I can just see it now when the Irish rugby team rock up at the Aviva Stadium eyeballing their English friends as they wait patiently and then the PA announcer politely asks everyone to rise for the national anthem before the opening bars of ‘The Boys Are Back in Town, by Thin Lizzy, blasts around the terraces. Just think of the smiles that would put on everyone’s faces and the atmosphere not least because everyone knows the words.

As a great admirer of punk icons ‘The Damned, for whom I kid you not I once had a drum audition only to be defeated by that John Moss fella of Culture Club fame, have the perfect anthem to get me going. Their classic track ‘New Rose’ would be the ideal antidote to God Save The Queen though I’d substitute the word ‘New’ with ‘Red’

Let’s face if you’re currently in your late teens or twenties or like me just slightly, well more than slightly actually, north of that then the Friday night buzz of getting ready to hit a bar with a few friends before dancing the night away in Copper Face Jacks is the best night of the week.

You come home from work in great form and then you start to go through your by now well honed ‘getting ready to go out routine’ which is always accompanied by your favourite music blaring from your bedroom while your parents bang on the ceiling with the broom handle to ‘turn it down’ and next door complain that they can’t hear the seven o’clock show, which really isn’t a bad thing when you think about it.

But what’s blaring from the CD getting you all in mood for the heady night ahead? Well for one thing it ain’t ‘Ireland’s Call’ or Amhrán na bhFiann and in my house it was never God Save the bleedin Queen. Now I don’t want to tread all over anybody’s sensibilities here but the point is that Anthems should be rock out jolly and something Nicky Byrne wouldn’t be ashamed to throw onto his turntable with the preceding words, And this week, still at number one is.’

We don’t want to sing about the past and all that guff we can learn in the dreaded school history lesson. We need fun because let’s be honest fun’s becoming a rare commodity these days in a world where almost daily we are witnessing more explosions than a John De Chastelain supervised IRA decommissioning party?

We all get to sing, to smile and rock on. Everyone’s a winner. 


15th May 2016.