It was very pleasant to see Lou Hickey and Dougie MacLean performing “Caledonia” at the YesScotland launch – it’s a nice enough tune, and “Flower Of Scotland” has been somewhat ruined for us as a national song by years of appallingly murdered, out-of-time renditions at Murrayfield and, especially, Hampden.
(We liked the brief period when The Three McTenors or something did a speeded-up rendition at the football, which was nicely modern and left less room for the crowd to balls it up in – for some reason football fans can’t grasp the concept of a pause – but the SFA with their trademark ineptitude soon abandoned it in favour of Ronnie Corrie barking it out in his Hielan’-wedding get-up again. We also approve of the SRU’s practice of making the band stop for verse two and leaving it to the crowd alone, but why not just count them in and then let them sing unaccompanied from the start?)
We can’t help feeling, though, that music is a bit of a weak spot generally for the Scottish nationalist movement – still basically mired in the misty-blue-hills-of-Tiree era, where Runrig are seen as modernist hep-cats and the SNP’s official song is a 1962 blues tune best known by the staggeringly inappropriate title of “Let’s Stick Together”.
Had it been up to us, the Yes launch would have seen Glasgow’s own Primal Scream stood in front of a giant backdrop of Gordon “British jobs for British workers“ Brown and pummelling out a searing rendition of “Swastika Eyes“, but we get that that might not have mainstream appeal. Anyway, the point is, it’s time to think positive.
And by that we mean that we need to start considering what we’d have as a proper national anthem in the event of a win for independence in 2014. Wings over Scotland would therefore like to officially register its preference now ahead of the rush: our proposed new Scottish national anthem is “Hoots Mon” by Lord Rockingham’s XI.
No, wait, hear us out. Firstly, it’s not overly nationalistic, which nicely reflects the new civic patriotism espoused by the SNP over the more toxic ethnic variant. Also, the good Lord’s XI were led by a Scot (Henry Robertson/Harry Robinson from Elgin) but mostly English, which acts as a friendly gesture of social and cultural union with our southern neighbours, emphasising how we’ll continue to value them as friends.
The song is bouncy, catchy and very easy to learn, echoing Billy Connolly’s famous routine about the UK adopting the Archers theme as an anthem as a welcoming gesture to immigrants. The words are infinitely open to interpretation, meaning anything you want them to mean, yet the concept of a “braw, bricht moonlicht night” still paints a beautiful, romantic picture of bonnie Scotland. (And it’s not as if we could get away with singing about a lovely sunny Scottish day, is it?)
But most of all, imagine the scene as the national team takes the field. Not for Scottish spectators the pompous, aggressive, triumphalist overtones of other nation’s anthems. Not for us the stern, joyless faces and fists clamped over hearts, players unconvincingly and tunelessly mumbling the words to the cringing embarrassment of TV viewers across the land.
(Whoever first had the idea of putting a microphone in front of sports-team lineups during anthems needs beating to death with a set of bagpipes full of jagged rocks.)
No, as the stirring opening horn fanfare fades into a shortened version of the main instrumental section, everyone on the field and the stadium breaks into The Twist. The message is unmistakeable: “This is a GAME, and we’re here to enjoy it. We’re going to try our damnedest to win, but we’re not hanging our entire national pride on it.”
The Italians/Germans/whoever look on self-consciously, rightly embarrassed at how seriously they’ve been taking the whole affair – at the end of the day, Brian, it’s just some blokes kicking a ball around some grass, after all.
Suddenly the parping trumpets cut dead. There’s a tiny fraction of a second of silence, not long enough for anyone to mess it up. Then suddenly, a deafening explosion of sound as 55,000 guttural Scottish voices bellow as one:
THERE’S A MOOSE!
ABOOT THIS HOOSE!”
Our money says a good 40% of opponents – perhaps feeling themselves suddenly and alarmingly cast in the imperilled role of said rodent – would flee in terror there and then, even before the second verse, resulting in FIFA awarding Scotland a 3-0 victory by default. That’s a handy chunk of points in the bag in the average qualifying campaign straight away, and surely a greatly increased chance of qualification.
It’s not just sport, either. Think of more sombre occasions, like state funerals. People always say they want their send-off from this mortal coil to celebrate their life rather than mourn their death, and it’s impossible to stay glum through “Hoots Mon”. And what greater comfort could there be in times of sorrow than to picture loved ones and great statesmen alike walking jauntily through the darkness of oblivion towards the twinkling light of eternal life – truly, a braw, bricht moonlicht nicht of the soul?
“Hoots Mon” for Scotland! For a better country, a better world and a better tomorrow.