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Wings Over Scotland

Preparing for tomorrow

Posted on May 25, 2012 by

It was very pleasant to see Lou Hickey and Dougie MacLean performing “Caledonia” at the Yes Scotland launch – it’s a nice enough tune, if a bit mopey, 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 an apocalyptic 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 XI were also diverse, with female and ethnic-minority representation and at least one person with a disability.)

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 poetic interpretation, meaning anything you want them to mean, yet the concept of a “braw, bricht moonlicht night” still paints a beautiful, romantic and traditional picture of bonnie Scotland. (And it’s not as if we could get away with using “Walking On Sunshine”, 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. Even the visiting dignitaries would have trouble not jiggling gently along to the infectious melody.

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:


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 reaching the finals.

(To make it a bit more national-anthemy we could also replace the final “HOOTS MON!” with “SCOTLAND!”)

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.

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18 to “Preparing for tomorrow”

  1. John Peat says:

    There’s no way Scotland will vote for independance (and if it did, less chance it won’t be a total and utter unmitigated disaster for most people living there) but if it did, you could not have a better anthem!!


  2. Clachangowk says:

    John Peat – Why would it be a total and unmitigated disaster??

    I think you are talking in complete ignorance but I am interested in your reasons on why you think this should be the case. Hopefully not the usual ” too wee, too puir, too stupid” litany. Come on – enlighten us

  3. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I like it when Unionists are complacent. Long may it continue.

  4. Tearlach says:

    Why not get the Daily Record and the Sun on message by getting them to run – if you vote “yes” you will get to choose the new National Anthem – type campaigns, with X factor, and Britain’s (well in this case Scotland) got talent type shows? Gets the undecided folk on side, and will so annoy the rugger bugger types who read the Scotsman that they will be running their own “lets have our own proper national anthem” campaign before you can say six nations and Murrayfield.

    All in all it will simply reinforce the message that normal countries have their own national anthems, not err GSTQ…..  

    And if they pick a realy bad tune – who cares – we will be independent, and then have the chance do what we want…..

    But my votes for Andy Stewart’s “Donald wheres your troosers” – except we would have to sing it all in the faux Elvis style he puts on at the end – now that would be cool.     

  5. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I might have to organise a poll.


  6. MajorBloodnok says:

    Personally, I’d vote for the perky and stirring Scotland the Brave; failing that, anything by the (sensational) Jimi Shandrix Experience.

  7. seven says:


    Scotland the brave as you may not have heard it before

  8. Barney Thomson says:

    Or, all the way from Belgium –

  9. Doug Daniel says:

    It’s a shame that Scotland’s greatest band (Cocteau Twins) never really released any songs that would be suitable for a national anthem, particularly as most of the words are incomprehensible. However, I live in hope that one day I’ll hear Elizabeth Fraser sing Flower Of Scotland – she could do an amazing version. I wonder if she’s a nationalist…?

    Anyway, I don’t endorse Paolo Nutini in any way, but his rendition of A Man’s A Man (

    ) has my foot stomping. I would be completely in favour of our anthem being from the quill of the Bard, in fact it seems a bit daft to have a cultural icon revered around the world, and not use one of his works as the song people associate with Scotland. And if we’re looking to create a society that truly lives up to the Scottish character, surely having the song with the line “ye see yon birkie ca’d a lord, wha struts an stares an a’ that” as our anthem is a brilliant statement of intent?

    Of course, if it’s intimidation you’re after, how about utilising 700 pipers & drummers to play Scotland The Brave and marching them up and down the pitch before the game?

    Or if we just wanted to have a cool song for our anthem, Simple Minds used to churn them out in their sleep before they got too big. I’d love to hear New Gold Dream, I Travel or Life In A Day played as national anthems. And imagine the crowd going wild over the bassline in Waterfront.


    Or what crowd could fail to be whipped up into a frenzy by Into The Valley by the Skids? 

    Might be difficult to play those on the bagpipes, mind… 

  10. redcliffe62 says:

    Watching SkyNews in Oz it was clear the snippets showed that some Scots people said they quite liked the Queen and would not want to change that, and would therefore vote NO for that reason.

    A solution is required. 

    Assuming she is still around, and to make clear that leaving the UK does not remove the Queen, I think the question needs to be, ” Do you agree that Scotland should have the Queen as Head of State, with Scotland controlling its finances as an independent country? ”

    That question in my view would get close to 50% today and there is no aspect which can be argued is false, in fact the suggestion by some in the NO campaign that a Yes vote means an end to the monarchy is the false statement that needs to be addressed. 

    Can you imagine the Orange Order in 2014 saying a yes vote is a threat to the Queen? I certainly can so that needs to be cut off at the knees right now.

  11. Dál Riata says:

    @Major Bloodnook
    I’d heard someone mention that name, The Jimi Shandrix Experience before and thought he was just takin’ the piss. After your reminder, I checked on Google and there they are in all their glory! Great name! Terrific accordian playing, too!

    I didn’t know about that intro to the Dropkick Murphy’s Do or Die, so thanks for that! Can you just imagine being at Hampden, or anywhere, really, when the newly independent Scottish anthem of Scotland the Brave starts off with a ‘straight’ verse and chorus … then breaks into a thrash punk verse and chorus … Christ, it would be bloody brilliant! Unlikely to happen though, more’s the pity!  

  12. redcliffe62 says:

    Seems that Glasgow councillor who escaped action a decade plus ago is not doing badly buying council houses for a quid and charging 500 quid a month rent.

    Backhander or tender? Somebody knows but they refuse to discuss it and hope it goes away. 
    Why were they sold off to him for that I am not sure, perhaps Matheson will tell us? 
    Innocent until PROVEN guilty of course, but seems serious. Not that the Record or the Beeb consider it an issue.

    Whatever happens in Glasgow council and we find out about it years later we deny it…………….. but this was current at the time he wa spicked as a councillor.

    Clean sweep of corruption? Aye right.

  13. Dál Riata says:

    Seriously, though …

    Personal viewpoint here …the use of Flower of Scotland as an unofficial anthem has become a bit of an embarrassment. As a song of its time written by Roy Williamson of the Corries, it was a great heart-rending reminder of ‘that lot”s past treatment of Scotland, and the uplifting sentiment, “… be a nation again..” and all that stuff. But that’s just it – “…and in the past they must remain..” –  it’s in the past! Let’s move on!

    I believe I read somewhere (Sorry, no link, not sure of its occurrence!) that on becoming independent, a competition would take place for an official anthem and a winner chosen from the submissions(?) Or, it might have been a person chosen from a list to then go on and produce the anthem(?) If any, I would say that the former option of the two is the most likely. Whether this would then be put to a vote (probably online) I’m not sure.

    If a new Scottish national anthem is to be written, it has to be uplifting in lyrics and song, not some dreary dirge.

    If a national anthem is chosen from what is already ‘out there’ I’d go with Scotland the Brave.

    Whatever the choice, let’s hope it’s a good one! 

  14. Arbroath1320 says:

    redcliffe62 says:
    May 26, 2012 at 2:51 am
    Watching SkyNews in Oz it was clear the snippets showed that some Scots people said they quite liked the Queen and would not want to change that, and would therefore vote NO for that reason.

    I guess the folks that SkyNews were talking to were the ones who had spuds in their lugs. 😀

    Abdy kens that Alex Salmond has said, till he is blue in the face, that POST Independence Scotland will KEEP the Queen as head of State.

    Now either the interviewees have never heard him say that, never read about him saying that or never seen him on the T.V. saying that. In that case they must be dead!

    This can only lead me to one conclusion, the interviewer was carrying out his/her interview with the help of a clairvoyant! 😀

  15. Morag says:

    The original tune of Scotland the Brave is fine, but the Cliff Handley words are an embarrassment.
    Traditionally, our anthem was Scots wha hae, and I don’t see what’s not to like.  Words by Robert Burns, tune that goes so far back in connection to Scotland it was the one sung by the Scottish troops in the army of Joan of Arc.  And it’s historical, not backward-looking.  It speaks of our past and  who we are as a people.  Look at the Marseillaise, for goodness sake.
    Alternatively, what about Freedom come all ye?  My only real problem is that the actual tune is called The Bloody Fields of Flanders.

  16. seoc says:

    Something in gaidhliq, to resemble the Maori ‘Haka’, incorporated into the Anthem would be welcome.

  17. Taranaich says:

    I’ve always been a solid proponent of “Scots Wha Hae,” with some support for “Scotland the Brave” (no time for either “Highland Cathedral” or “Flower of Scotland” myself) but michty me, you may be onto something with “Hoots Mon.” I was in tears of laughter and joy reading those last few paragraphs, the picture was crystal clear in my mind’s eye.

  18. Nan Rattray says:

    Always thought that the tune to Blue bonnets o’er the Border would be a great anthem if someone could write some new words to it. If not P Nuttini’s Mans a man for a’ that would get my vote.

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