Saturday, March 17, 2007

The best-planned lays of mice and men...


...gang aft a-gley’, as Burns wished he had said. Now this is not going to be another anti-Scottish diatribe. As you know, I am not prone to racial prejudice of any kind, particularly against Scots. After all, my nominee for sanctification on the next vacancy will be Glaswegian Saint, David Moyes, for the last five years Manager of the Everton Football Club, who rescued them from the brink of disaster to which their previous manager had brought them. (Come to think of it, he too was a Scot, but it did him no harm – he’s now Manager of the Scottish national team.)
It was while listening to one of the BBC’s best news presenters, James Naughtie, (a Scot), interviewing our Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne (a Scot) about his hope that the House of Commons (whose Speaker is a Scot) hasten progress on updating our Trident missiles so that we can kill more people quicker so the incoming Prime Minister (Yes, you guessed) can deny all responsibility – that I realised why I worry about the Great Scottish Takeover.
It’s not because, although they pay the same taxes as the English; elderly Scots get free personal care, while ours don’t; or because Scottish students get free tuition, while ours don’t; or because they get better drugs and health care than we do; or even that they obtain 20% more per person from the State budget. Not at all – good luck to them if they can get away with it. To be fair, they do have colder winters and higher coronary death rates, and they have to eat haggis and deep-fried Mars bars and watch Scottish football.
No, my objection is that the Royal Mint has decided that the £20 note will no longer bear the profile of our beloved Elgar, composer of Stance and Circumpomp and our unofficial national anthem, Land of Hope and Crosby, and whose very name is an anagram of 'regal'.
Elgar is out: in future, the Bank of ENGLAND’s most popular banknote will feature – back-to-back with the Queen - a Scottish bean counter called Adam Smith.

Ethnic cleansing comes to football Isn’t it odd that, having got three English teams into the last eight in the Champions League, they managed to avoid playing each other in the Quarter Finals, thus setting up the possibility of an all-English final in Athens? But then, is there such a thing as an ‘English’ club any more, when, of our top three clubs, one is Russian-owned, and the other two are owned by Americans?
It’s the same with the players: When Arsenal played Philips Eindhoven in the Champions League last week, there was only one Dutchman in the Dutch team – and even he didn’t last the distance. And there were no Englishmen in the English team. You realise what this means: it means that when the Scottish revolution takes place, there'll be no Englishmen here for them to take over. The best-laid plans will have ganged a-gley.

Canary Island Discs No. 3 When I was a kid, our parents took us to Blackpool every September to see the Illuminations - Dad worked for the railway company so got cheap tickets. One of my favourite light-and-sound shows was the one at South Shore baths to a looped tape of Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody. Maybe that’s when I started to like Hungarian music.
Years later, I went to a concert given by the New Zealand National Orchestra in Wellington, and they played Kodaly’s Háry János Suite. It was a revelation - they played it again as an encore, and then had to play it again because people wouldn’t let them stop. When I went to the record shop next day, they had sold out.
Fast forward another twenty years and I’m in a restaurant in Vienna the name of which I forget, and a small group of white-haired musicians are playing Hungarian gypsy music. Hearing the unusual sound of the cimbalom, which is featured on the Háry János, I asked them if they did it. It was like asking Benny Carter if he did Body and Soul.
I went back there a number of times – they also served good food - and as I arrived they would strike it up. So Disc No. 3 – for Blackpool when it was a fun place, Wellington, Vienna and the cimbalom, it’s Zoltán Kodály’s Háry János Suite.

5 comments:

Ed R said...

Happy ST Pat's DAy Ted.
Or is that a bad thing?

riviera writer said...

No - Paddy's OK - just thought I'd rest him this year. (Don't like to rant, but did you notice how Scotland failed to beat France yesterday, thus handing them the Six Nations rugby championship?)

Ed R said...

LEave it to the Scots to hand it over to the French.

gillie said...

... do you actually know how many beans Adam Smith counted ?

riviera writer said...

No but I question his timing: fancy publishing your greatest work in 1776!