Monday 2 April 2012

Mrs Angry's song for Europe. No: the Empire. Common Wealth?

'Common Wealth' ... You hum it & we'll all join in, Brian

Is Englebert available? What? Oh. Double booking. Shame. Never mind, we have massed ensembles at hand.

So: Common Wealth. Remember the right royal waste of our taxpayers' money, £1,000 of it, thrown by Councillors Coleman, Longstaffe & Cohen (Melvin) in the direction of the composer son of Brian Coleman's vicar chum, the banner snatching Rev Adrian Benjamin, all for a four minute jubilee anthem? Oh, do try and keep up. It was all sneaked out in the week before Christmas, in the hope we would not be watching. We were watching.

Yes, the Rev's son Tim, who handily happens to be a great Composer, and therefore able to turn out four minute royal anthems at the drop of a hat, was commissioned to write a musical piece to be performed by erm, massed ensembles of school children at a civic service in ha ha, Hampstead Garden Suburb, that privileged part of Broken Barnet where nothing is ever broken, and if it were, three Tory councillors would rush round and fix it immediately with lots of our hard earned cash - rather like the toytown library they are subsidising so that retired magistrates and headmistresses can play at being librarians.

The massed ensembles of school children, in fact, turned out to be a few nice middle class pupils from QE Boys, yes, Brian's old school, and Mill Hill School - not sure if this was the public school or the one nearby which every parent in Barnet tries to get their child into, as it is one of the highest scoring comprehensives in the league tables. No hoodies or gangstas, in other words. Or stroppy girls from St Michael's.

We don't know how it went, the service, as everyone, including the local press, ignored it, much to the annoyance you may be sure, of Councillor Coleman - or if our money was well spent, but we are also certain that Councillor Coleman enjoyed looking awfully important at the service in his best suit and that self awarded swimming medal get up he always wears at such events.

And now look: a kind friend has thoughtfully made a Freedom of Information request for the music, which is called 'Common Wealth' - a suitably Tory play on words, don't you think? So we can all look at the score now, and try out the old grey whistle test to see if it is a good tune, and worth £1,000 of our money.

What do we have then? Something retro-avant garde, in a sort of John Cage, Four Minutes and Thirty Three Seconds of Silence sort of way? Sadly no. That might have been preferable. Silence, that is. And less expensive. Instead we have bought an assortment of, yawn, tunes meant to represent countries of the Commonwealth.

There is a central 'call group' led by a droning bagpipe - no, not a droning windbag, he will have been sitting in the audience - surrounded by different response groups singing the national motifs, and moving about a bit in what is described as a 'stately procession' - yes, in the manner of the droning windbag.

Ah, the composer's instructions are that 'Overall, the piece should have a fun, uplifting and celebratory feel rather than be overly serious, pompous, or grandiose.' My emphasis, of course. Surely the brief was all about being overly serious, pompous and grandiose, no?

So: we have ....

Greensleeves, yep, thought so, for England, instructions 'graceful and calm': hmm, yes, good: the English, setting a dignified example to the colonies.

Sai Gân, Welsh lullaby (is that right, Cneifiwr, or is it something about sheep shearing and mascara?) 'bright'.

That's the Welsh for you - bright and smiling through the tears, see, even when you close down their mines and then tell the long term unemployed that they are all lazy and need to find 'aspiration', eh, Councillor John Thomas?

Scots Wha Hae. Oh dear. 'bold'. Brave heart, Rab C Nesbitt, Rangers, (ha, shame, eh?) and all that. Not Celtic. That's up next.

The Young Man's Dream. Risky. 'Slowly' - because it's Irish, you know, & must be sentimental, another title for - Danny Boy, the Oirish tune which isn't Irish at all ... could have had something by Dana, or Westlife, maybe.

Linstead Market -a Jamaican traditional tune - 'rhythmic', of course.

O Canada - 'broadly', like great big men in lumberjack shirts. Not as in Joni Mitchell, 'A Case of You', Blue album)

Jana Gana Mana - Indian national anthem - 'smoothly'. Like partition, 1947.

Waltzing Matilda - guess what - 'cheerful' - all Australians are cheerful, of course. Except Lynton Crosby, but then the poor old boy does have a lot on his plate at the moment, what with trying to get Brian Coleman re elected to the GLA without anyone noticing. Next:

Now is the hour - a Maori tune - 'warmly' ... rather than threateningly and resentfully, which is how I would feel in their place.

And finally, Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika - 'proudly' ... the national anthem of South Africa, and the anthem of the outlawed ANC, throughout the years of apartheid, when so many Tory politicians reviled the ANC as 'terrorists', and were busy sanctions busting and supporting the status quo of the white government. Good to see it given the respect it deserves, now though, isn't it, by a Tory council? Amandla.

But here we are, in 2012, commissioning a composer to write a piece in praise of the concept of the Commonwealth, a post colonial concept that barely has any real significance anymore. If we had to create a piece of music to celebrate the jubilee, it might have been more appropriate to reflect the abundantly rich heritage and cultures of what is perhaps the most culturally diverse borough in London, involving children from all the schools in the borough, including those our council does not boast about so much, the schools which are non selective, in disadvantaged areas, and struggling to attain a good level of acheivement. But then here we are again, singing the same old tune, the tale of Two Barnets.

And now Mrs Angry is going to go away and think up an alternative musical medley for Broken Barnet. Hours of fun ahead. Feel free to join in.


Cneifiwr said...

Sound of panting (it's a long way from Wales), and nothing to do with expectations of a greeting from Mrs A. in her pink babydoll.

Sai gân? Bit of a new one on me, I'm afraid. My lullabye repertoire doesn't stretch beyond "Si hei lwli" I'm afraid.

But thanks for asking - lambing went well and we beat the English at rugby. And no drought here, of course.

Cneifiwr said...

Staying with the Welsh theme, I see you make reference to mascara once again, Mrs A.

There is a noble tradition in Wales of men dressing up as women - the Rebecca Riots springs to mind. This was a successful uprising against the outsourcing of our roads to private toll companies.

Perhaps Mr Mustard and the other menfolk of the borough might like to remember this as they contemplate strategies for dealing with Barnet's outsourcing programme.

Mrs Angry said...

Mrs Angry wears only the standard approved One Barnet modesty nightshirt and knitted bedsocks, Cneifiwr - knitting is the best occupation for a woman at my time of life, I have decided, much more dignified than blogging, or lap dancing, for example.

I am disappointed by your lack of knowledge of Welsh lullabies. I have begun to suspect, in fact, that you are not Welsh at all, and are more likely to be a second hand car salesman living in Billericay, grooming lady bloggers with false pretences and invitations to a non existant sheep farm in the Black Mountains.

Nearly lost to Ireland, though, didn't you?

Anonymous said...

So, apart from the 'drone' what exactly did he write? Re-using royalty free tunes perhaps most of us could have turned out a tribute 'at the drop of a hat'.

Mrs Angry said...

Hmm, anonymous, in fact I am now working on my own medley of obscure and frankly vulgar folk tunes, and I intend to submit this arrangement to Cllr Coleman with a bill for £1,000. It is called 'Common as Muck' and is to celebrate the end of his long career and his acheivements, if I can think of any. It will be performed at a civic service on May 4th by massed ensembles of rejoicing citizens.

Mrs Angry said...

And Cneifiwr, yes, yes, I know about the Rebecca Riots. Good excuse. Mr Mustard and Mr Reasonable need no such excuse, or encouragement: Mr Mustard is particularly keen on wearing ladies tights, supposedly when biking, and Mr Reasonable - no, I can't tell you.