Skip to Content

Coffee House Culture House Daily

Spectator competition winners: the national anthem Ian Dury might have written

27 February 2016

9:30 AM

27 February 2016

9:30 AM

Following Tom Shakespeare’s recent suggestion that now might be a good time to ditch ‘God Save the Queen’ — ‘terrible tune, with banal lyrics’ — and replace it with something that more accurately reflects contemporary Britain, competitors were invited to propose lyrics for a new British national anthem. In an entry whose tone varied wildly, my favourite was Bill Greenwell’s jaunty reimagining of ‘Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick’ by the late, great Ian Dury, which is refreshingly lacking in jaundice, sentimentality or jingoism. It brought to mind ‘This Land is Your Land’ (‘From California to the New York Island/ From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters’), Woody Guthrie’s response to Irving Berlin’s ‘God Bless America’.

Greenwell, who is to ‘God Save’ what Guthrie is to ‘God Bless’, takes £35. The rest earn £30.

Bill Greenwell
From Killeen to Aberdeen, on the grid in Milton
From Indian Queens to Letterbreen, every Jack
      and every Jean:
Pour more fizz for Elizabeth, pour it, pour it,
Iechyd da and hail-well-met, pour it, pour it,
Pour more fizz for Lizabeth, toast her till we’re
      out of breath,
Roar it, roar it; roar it.

From the bars of Crossmaglen to the pine trees
      of High Spen,
From the Fens to Llanedwen, all the women, all
      the men — (Chorus)

From the bakers in Dundee to the golf at Rhos
Pity Me, and Daventry, everybody, sing with me
      — (Chorus)

In the crofts of Muckle Roe, on the sands at
      Westward Ho!,
Clitheroe and Wivenhoe, all the people, high and
      low — (Chorus)

From the well at Derrynoose, to the station at
In Drumgoose, the river Loose, in your home or
      in your hoos — (Chorus)

Down in Splatt and up in Twatt, in the pub at
At St Catz and Battle Flatts, we’ll roll out the
      welcome mats — (Chorus)

Mike Morrison
God save this sceptr’d isle,
Field, farm and country mile:
Lord, grant us peace.
Our dear democracy
Eschews bureaucracy,
Loathes Euro-hypocrisy —
Keep us from these.

You who seek Britain’s shores —
Know well our open doors
Must close one day.
Albion, fair archetype,
Bridles at Brussels tripe
So, from continental hype
Spare us, we pray.

Basil Ransome-Davies
There’ll always be a UK
While there’s a crown to pimp,
Wherever there’s a club to buy,
A zombie Colonel Blimp.
There always be a Britland
While Britart markets kitsch,
Wherever there’s a budget shop,
A tax break for the rich.
There’ll always be an Albion
While there’s a public school,
Wherever there’s a Daily Mail,
A public you can fool.
There’ll always be an Airstrip,
And One shall be its name,
To preach fair play to all the world
And play a dirty game.

Max Ross
We love her, yeah, yeah, yeah
The great UK K. K. K.
We’re glorious and grand
And we’ve folk of all persuasions,
There’s freedom in our land
And we dress for big occasions
’Cos we’re BRITISH! And we know that can’t
      be bad.
We’re BRITISH! And we know we should be glad.

North, South, East and West
We’re all in this together;
Great Britain is the best,
Who cares about her weather?
For we love her, though she may not rule the sea,
We love her, she’s the home of you and me.
We love her yeah, yeah, yeah,
The great UK K K K.

Tim Raikes (To the tune of ‘I vow to thee my country’)
Our fathers went before us to till this fertile land,
The herdsman and the trader, the poorest
      farmer’s hand,
The land is what we’ve made it and we are of the
The cities and the pastures, the humble and the

Our democratic principles have shown the world
      the way,
Our laws since Magna Carta are valued every day,
It’s always been our nature to take in refugees,
Our diversity and culture’s enriched from

We’ve always fought for Europe, we did in two
      world wars,
With Churchill’s inspiration it was a noble cause,
We’re tolerant and practical and ought to take
      the lead,
We’ve centuries of history and now’s the hour of

We’ve always been a nation of science and
Our global reputation remains beyond
But we are part of Europe and should be at its
For Europe needs us badly and we must play
      our part.

Salvador Dalí had a pet ocelot, Gérard de Nerval walked out with a lobster. Your next challenge is to supply a poem about a famous person and an unlikely pet. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to by midday on 9 March.

Show comments