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15 September 2008

Land of Hope and ?

I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday night’s Last Night Of The Proms. Even if I didn’t like Classical Music as much as I do, I would enjoy this celebration of the world’s best music.

Of course the evening was made even more memorable for me by the performances put on by Bryn Terfel, a fellow Welshman, for those not in the know. He is a lovely person with the most magnificent voice.

There is a carnival atmosphere about the Last Night Of The Proms. People wearing silly hats and waving teddy bears, all the members of the orchestra and chorus wearing carnations in their buttonholes – but with streamers decorating their instruments and music holders. Bryn himself came on for the last part of the evening in a wonderful coat with the Welsh red dragon on the back and the Union flag on the lapels. After the usual folk songs and sea shanties Bryn sang ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’ and ‘Rule Britannia’ with the audience, followed by ‘Jerusalem’ and The National Anthem.

Music brings together all the peoples of the world. Although the Last Night Of the Proms is a very British institution, apparently it was broadcast to many other parts of the world. I always think of myself as Welsh, but on this one night I’m just British, and proud of it. Every country should be proud of its own particular identity while still recognising the strengths and artistic excellence of all others. The ‘promenaders’, those dedicated enthusiasts who had attended many of the concerts for the season, waved flags of various nations. Welsh, Scottish, the Union Flag of course, then there were French and Belgian and flags of many other countries – even a few American ones. A lovely, nostalgic evening, it restores ones faith in the human spirit and makes one glory in the world wide love of music.

Then, the next day, I received a petition from an on-line British friend. This is what the petition is all about:

“The world-famous Red Arrows have been banned from appearing at the 2012 London Olympics because they are deemed 'too British'.

Organisers of the event say that the Arrows military background might be 'offensive' to other countries taking part in the Games. The display team have performed at more than 4000 events worldwide, but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport have deemed the display team 'too militaristically British.' Red Arrows pilots were said to be 'outraged', as they had hoped to put on a truly world class display for the Games, something which had never been seen before.”

I’ve seen the Red Arrows perform many times. This is not a military display, but a colourful and awe inspiring display of airmanship and flying skills. I wonder how long it will be before some ‘do-gooder’ in Whitehall decides the Last Night Of the Proms is too ‘British’ and bans it!