Almost the only aspect of being paid to write columns that is not highly pleasurable is being scooped. In journalistic parlance, to be scooped in news is to be beaten to a story – and to be scooped in views is to be beaten to an argument.
That my esteemed colleague Dominic Lawson is cleverer than me has long been a source of anguish. But when he wrote in this newspaper on Tuesday that our national anthem should be replaced on musical grounds and that Gustav Holst's "I Vow to Thee My Country" is a fine candidate for the vacancy, the pain became intolerable. I have wanted to write the same thing for weeks.
"God Save the Queen" is a musically immature nonsense and that our national anthem should enshrine a subservience, to the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas and a dictator in the sky who doesn't even exist, is of course a source of national shame. But Dominic covered all that.
So today, let me make some alternative recommendations. Where he specialises in classical, I'm a reggae man. Here are five reggae anthems that could inspire a nation.
1. Vybz Kartel – Clarks
With his seminal lyric "Toothbrush get out di dust fast / Everybody haffi ask weh mi get mi Clarks", Vybz articulates the passions of our rioting youth and the aspirationalism of New Labour.
2. The Wailers – Small Axe
Bob Marley sang: "So if you are the big tree, we are the small axe, ready to cut you down". This is really a metaphor for how the Coalition wishes to chip away at our staggering national debt.
3. Dillinger – Loving Pauper
One of my desert island discs. The lyrics: "Financially I'm a pauper, but when it comes to loving I'm alright" might as well be the slogan of the Big Society.
4. Sizzla – Solid As A Rock
What is this song's constant riff: "I'm so solid as a rock, they just can't stop me now", if not the perfect reminder of George Osborne's claim that the UK, with its low interest rates, is a "rock of stability"?
5. Horace Andy – Skylarking
Andy mellifluously sang: "So if you all keep on doing what you all are doing / You will end up, up, up in jail… skylarking." Fraudulent bankers, expense-fiddling politicians and even former News of the World journalists will all feel a sense of connection with these fine lyrics.
Quite which is my preferred choice I couldn't tell you. If you have better ideas, do get in touch on Twitter.
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