Flower of Scotland?

I have been at loggerheads with Consuela (my Tejana maid) for a couple of days. The issue – Flower of Scotland. I can’t stand the song myself, whereas Consuela whistles it incessantly in the teepee, and won’t stop even when we go out on shopping expeditions to the Overgate. Sitting at a café table, she uses ‘cooling her coffee’ as an excuse to keep up her piping. She has even given up playing her merry polkas and corridos on her accordion, and now plays nothing but Flower of Scotland, day in, day out.

royalcorries_2161239iThat, to me, epitomises the whole problem with the song. It has been foisted on us here as our ‘National Anthem’. Who asked us? I certainly don’t recall being asked to vote on the matter! It was written in 1967 by Roy Williamson of folk group The Corries, and has been wriggling its way into our national consciousness ever since, like the inevitable sci-fi worm-in-the-ear trope.

“For God’s sake stop that infernal racket!” I yelled at Consuela yesterday. “Blow me down – it’s a dirge! It’s in triple time, damn it! Who the hell wants a national anthem you can bloody well waltz to?”

At this Consuela went off in a huff. I heard her clattering the pots and pans in the kitchen and muttering in Spanish. But really! Who does need this one-two-three drivel as our national song? If you want to get a whole lot of Scots singing, then there are dozens of better songs. The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles for a start. It’s not as though Flower is ever sung well. It is usually sung by voices that sound as though the singer has gargled a mixture of gravel and Buckfast, and it usually comes out like this:


Let me explain further. The word ‘Scotland’ epitomises everything beautiful, generous, welcoming, kind, neighbourly, serene, and noble about us. ‘SCOATLEN’ on the other hand, is everything that is boorish, ignoble, inhospitable, xenophobic, Anglophobic, drunken, blue-faced, and ugly.

Really, I will not have this nonsense in the teepee. If Consuela wants to sing Flower, then let her go to Murrayfield.


Picture the scene:

rickRick’s Café Americain in… Stranraer. All the usual characters are there: Rick McBlaine the jaded owner, Yvonne his jilted girlfriend, Captain Shooie Ranald the cynical policemen, and a score or more of political refugees hoping for a place on the ferry across to Ireland. All are silent, except for a group around the piano. Major Strasser and his Nazi cronies are singing, lustily, Die Wacht am Rhein, one of the Third Reich’s better drinking songs (it has to be admitted).

Es braust ein Ruf wie Donnerhall
wie Schwertgeklirr un Wogenprall;
Zum Rhein, zum deutschen Rhein…

GlazgoEnter international freedom-fighter Victor Glazgo. Hearing the singing, he turns sharply towards the group at the piano. He frowns. He marches over to the house band.

“Play Flower of Scotland!” he orders.

The band looks over towards Rick, who is seated at his usual table with a bottle of cheap, blended Scotch.

“Play it!” commands Victor Glazgo.

Rick nods, and the band begins to play.

Nyer-nyer nyer-nyer-nyurr… nyer-nyer nyer-nyer… nyer-nyer nyer-nyer…

Glazgo sings the words. A few people join in, tunelessly as usual. This breaks the Nazis’ stride, but only for half a heartbeat. Recognising the waltz-time dirge, they burst out in derisory laughter, then resume their patriotic German song where they left off.

Lieb Vaterland, magst ruhig sein,
Lieb Vaterland, magst ruhig sein,
Fest steht und treu die Wacht,
die Wacht am Rhein!
Fest steht und treu die Wacht,
die Wacht am Rhein!

135577855305The house band falters and stops. Victor Glazgo, shoulders hunched, slinks from the room, a defeated man. Rick pours himself three fingers of cheap Scotch, downs it in a single gulp, and holds his head in his hands.

Moral: The Marseillaise nails it every bloody time, and is worth a fifteen points start in any rugby match.


Oh, by the way, a few years back, when the banking crisis started, I heard the following. It’s a much better use of the Corries’ tune by far:

Royal Bank of Scotland,
When will I see some cash again?
I need a mortgage
for my wee bit but an’ ben!
The manager told me
I must be barmy,
He sent me homewards
to think again.

My home is gone now,
and in a hostel I remain,
but I can rise up
and walk out into the rain!
The manager told me
I must be barmy,
He sent me homewards
to think again.


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