They were singing loyalist songs familiar to me from the vile Orange Day parades in Southport; lots of gleeful triumphalist stuff about killing Feinian bastards and gloating over the death of IRA hunger strikers.
Then they sang God Save the Queen. Like any other thinking person I've always disliked the song, but this was the first time I'd really thought about it. The title itself contains two concepts I despise. Then each individual line contained something despicable.
God save our gracious Queen
Stuff your god, and the idea she's ours, let alone the ludicrous idea that she's gracious.
Long live our noble Queen
No, die and rot like any other mortal; in what way noble?; and again with that belonging to us thing.
God save the Queen
Both of them can fuck right off.
Send her victorious
Over who? Haven't we done enough of that already?
Happy and glorious
What glory's that exactly? The glory of being vaguely descended from thieves and murderers?
Long to reign over us
No, rather against the wall as soon as poss
God save the Queen
No, no, and no.
Previously, and aside of the repulsive sentiment of the lyrics, I've talked about the inappropriateness of having God Save The Queen as the national anthem for the UK.
When we compete as one nation, the national anthem is God Save The Queen. When we compete as four nations, Wales and Scotland have their own anthems. Northern Ireland alternates between God Save The Queen and the Londonderry Air (the tune to Danny Boy). England, of course, uses God Save The Queen every time; the Englishness of the Union is reinforced to everyone concerned.
How can it be fair that the anthem of one of the four nations is the anthem of them all? How would it feel if the roles were reversed and English members of a UK team had to sing Flower of Scotland?
Next up after shedding the Union Jack should be England getting its own tune. (My vote would be Blake’s Jerusalem. It’s got the requisite striving, yearning and historical elements but without the galling arrogance and glorification of militarism so common in national anthems.)
However, others have a wiser plan.
I have been persuaded to change my mind by this excellent and stirring new petition on the 10 Downing Street website, which I urge you all to sign.
We, the people of Britain, feel that our current National Anthem has lost a bit of its sparkle.
When we are confronted by the rare occasion of us winning a medal at the Olympics, we all have to mumble through "God Save The Queen", well God help us in 2012!
We would thereby like to table the suggestion that we change the National Anthem to something more modern and appropriate and that will re-invigorate our pride.
What we specifically want to see, is that the National Anthem be changed in favour of "Gold" by Spandau Ballet.
Further, we would like our National Olympic Committee to decree that Tony Hadley is the only person permitted to handle medal ceremonies where the National Anthem is played.
We don't mind what he wears when he does this, but preference is given towards a a gold colured suit.