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Monday 13 August 2012
Letters: We're out of tune with our national anthem
The opening ceremony of the Olympics will have given the rest of the world an impression of Great Britain as an eccentric if brilliantly creative and imaginative nation. I fear Dominic Lawson's suggestion (7 August) that "Jerusalem" should replace "God Save the Queen" as our national anthem would only increase our reputation for eccentricity.
Why would we choose an anthem whose title is a deeply disputed principal city? And if we try to explain that this is the "new Jerusalem" (Heaven?) we will only add delusions of grandeur to our national characteristics.
And "Jerusalem" is a hymn to England, not the United Kingdom. What does he mean when he says that if a "national vote" were taken an "overwheming majority" would vote for Jerusalem? Not in Scotland and Wales they wouldn't.
Barbara Grodecka Lewis
My old copy of Songs of Praise includes the 1919 Official Peace version of the anthem. Verses two and three read: "One realm of races four/ Blest more and ever more /God save our land/ Home of the brave and free/ Set in the silver sea/ True nurse of chivalry/ God save our land.
"Of many a race and birth/ From utmost ends of earth/ God save us all./ Bid strife and hatred cease,/ Bid hope and joy increase/ Spread universal peace/ God save us all."
I am proud to sing God Save the Queen but also wonder whether, for those of who still believe in a Deity, verse three of the Peace version might be appropriate.
P A Wrigglesworth
England is the problem with the national anthem of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Of its component parts, Wales (my country), Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own national anthems; indeed Scotland has two and Northern Ireland three.
England has nothing, so it has hijacked "God Save the Queen" for indiscriminate use whether or not Her Majesty is present. Let England agree its own anthem and the problem disappears.
The LPO national anthem, as played, was indeed a dirge, conducted, one assumes, by a metronome. Played properly, with sounding brass and rolling tympani, as it should be, especially at Olympic triumphs, it is rousing indeed.
Mr Lawson fails to say that Joseph Haydn, a composer of the highest rank, was so impressed with it that he composed an anthem for his own country.
Our anthem actually addresses a non-denominational God, asking blessings on our country via its representative, Her Majesty the Queen.
Newport, Isle of Wight
Dominic Lawson is right. The national anthem has words with the spring of pressed veal and a tune like the death march of a depressed cart horse, and it cuts the country dead to suck up to the monarch. Yet an incomparably superior alternative is there for the singing.
Words by Dryden, music one of the great melodies of all, by Purcell, addressed to the whole country and a touch sexy in the second line: "Seat of pleasure and of loves". I mean "Fairest Isle". No contest.
I quite agree with Dominic Lawson and I also agree that "Jerusalem" is a wonderful, rousing song. But I'm not too sure about the changes that would have to be made were it to become our new anthem. "United Kingdom's pleasant pastures"? "UK's green and pleasant land"? It just doesn't sound quite right, does it?
Bridge of Don, Aberdeen
To encourage the less able at sports will cost money
I welcome the interest of our leaders in physical education (report, 19 August). I was head of PE in a large comprehensive school for several years and I had a Damascene moment when I realised that not all students enjoyed playing competitive games or team games.
Rather unscientifically, I identified some 60 per cent of pupils were in this group. But I believe all children need physical education. So I formulated a PE curriculum that I hoped would satisfy the needs of all children with one overarching aim: that all children would leave school with some physical activity that they would want to continue.
I am worried that Dave and Boris may have been in my less enthusiastic 60 per cent and, in the sudden euphoria brought on by our welcome success in the Olympics, will forget those who are less able at the more popular competitive games.
There is much to be gained from hill-walking, rowing and cycling without competing and countless other activities. All this will, of course, need more money. Perhaps we will have to abandon the odd nuclear submarine to pay for it all.
At the Beijing Olympics, 50 per cent of British medal-winners were from private education which is representative of only 7 per cent of the population. Such a bias reflects the gross inequality and a loss of sporting potential for Team GB more generally.
With Cameron trying to score Brownie points off the back of Team GB success and government cuts threatening to further reduce opportunities for the less well off, the Olympics are without doubt infused with politics.
But the Olympics have always been a political battleground. Have we forgotten the terrorism of Munich; the boycotts by the USA and USSR; the role of corporations in construction and sponsorship; local residents being forced out of Olympic areas, and the issue of drug abuse or the question of the inclusion or exclusion of paralympians in able-bodied events?
If you cheered on Sarah Attar, the first female track and field athlete to represent Saudi Arabia, you did so because of the political issue of equality and gender. If you cheered Team GB you did so because of a political allegiance to the nation and the Union Jack.
When child A beats child B academically, for example, for a university place, because A, in contrast to B, has wealthy parents paying for a privileged education, additional tuition, trips abroad for language improvement, we justly feel sorry for B. B has been treated unfairly. In view of the razzmatazz and self-congratulation regarding Britain's Olympic successes, perhaps we should spare a thought for those poor nations, akin to child B, which are in no position to pump money into sports, additional training abroad et al. And that point too is not undermined by the odd cases of a gold winner coming from a poor nation.
I have had enough of continually reading that the Olympic Games is the greatest show on earth. The most honest validation of this claim is how many people watch it.
The home viewing figures for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games were estimated at 4.3 billion viewers in 220 countries. But the last football World Cup 2010 in South Africa had an estimated 24.2 billion viewers in 214 countries. The greatest show on earth will always be the World Cup.
Michael Phelps is unquestionably a great athlete, but the number of medals a swimmer is able to win in different events brings the notion of Olympic success into disrepute. If events such as running backwards and running with a pint of beer on your head I suspect various sport stars would have had little difficulty in accumulating a score of Olympic medals.
Kota Kinabatangan, East Malaysia
Am I the only person really fed up with the way the BBC reports athletics? They seem to equate athletics with running.
After a race, particularly if there is a Team GB competitor, there are several reruns of the race followed by an interview with a panting winner and sometimes a loser, if British.
All this time, one can see and hear field events going on in the background, but instead of showing these the BBC subjects us to the views of past athletes on the race, often with another rerun.
It seems that only when there is absolutely nothing else to show do they deign to cover field events.
Having used the closing days of the Olympics to guarantee future spending on sports, what will David Cameron promise at the end of the Paralympics?
How about a guarantee to restore and maintain spending on social care for disabled people?
Just enough, perhaps, to allow them to live with reasonable dignity and independence, let alone aspire to sporting achievement and international success?
Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex
Thank goodness that's over. Can we have our Independent back now, please?
Pevensey Bay, East Sussex
Must try harder next year, George
Phew! There I was worrying about the state of the British economy when George Osborne, after repeating the monthly mantra, "It's disappointing", revealed that, despite presumably knowing about numbers, he had graduated from the Hyperbole School of Rhetoric frequented by football managers and sports commentators. He would give the problem his "110 per cent attention and effort and energy to get it moving". Great. And next year he can give it 120 per cent.
Not one for all
Anyone who really thinks the sentence "The street kids stand at the traffic lights, selling cigarettes, chewing-gum and shoelaces" ambiguous can easily amend it, using either Catherine Robinson's solution (letter, 8 August) of an "Oxford comma" after "chewing gum" or Roger Smith's (9 August) neater one of placing "chewing gum" first in the list. But why does Ms Robinson think that using a comma here commits her to using one in all such lists?
It isn't Islam
While I agree with D Simms-Davies (letters, 8 August) that accepting or refusing a husband is a fundamental freedom for all women, this does not negate the fact that Islam endorses such freedom, nor does it negate the fact that honour killing is a shameful tradition that has nothing to do with Islam.
Put a sock in it
In The Independent (10 August), there is a photograph of the surface of Mars taken from the Curiosity rover. In the bottom centre there appears to be a discarded trainer. This could prove beyond doubt that there is life on Mars and, not only that, but has evolved sufficiently to open a branch of Sports Direct.
I can't help feeling that you missed the more important story about the Tonga treasure wreck (report, 10 August). If the crew of the Port-au-Prince was massacred in 1806 then the illustration of Captain Thompson has advanced the discovery of photographic process by some 30 years. Got any photos of Ney's cavalry charge at Waterloo?
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