Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Choir, Brass and the Veto

Last night I attended the Huddersfield Choral Society Christmas concert in Huddersfield Town Hall, the finest statement of Victorian civic pride in the North of England. The Choir was accompanied by the Black Dyke Band, the best brass band in the world. The concert programme was a terrific mixture of choir, band and audience participation, belting out Hark The Herald Angel Sing and O Come All Ye Faithful, although I thought the descant in the former was a little thin- come on sopranos!
     The choir’s rendering of Still the Night was haunting and thought provoking. The middle verse of three was sung in German, something of a linguistic sandwich. That made me think of poor David Cameron, the filling in yesterday’s rye bread/baguette concoction delivered by chefs Angela and Nik. The bread turned out to be very hot and meat Dave was squeezed out as the Franco/German pincer movement engulfed him. His plea for The City of London was just too small a pimple on the vast fat arse of the Euro crisis. It was a bit like sending a poem into a novel writing contest.
     Worse still, nobody joined him in the refusenik lobby, so, not for the first time in history, we stand alone, to the delight of British Tory euro-sceptics, ever seeking opportunities to widen the English Channel.
      To describe this brutal exercise of realpolitik as the British using their veto spins the meaning of the word well beyond the Oxford English Dictionary. Cameron did not veto a treaty; it will simply be made without Britain. Having said that, I don’t expect the treaty to amount to all that much. It will take years to build on the sand of fudges and test the markets’ patience perhaps to destruction. Even then it won’t be implemented by those countries that choose to behave badly, perhaps rightly when you think of the democratic deficit and pain to come.
      Huddersfield Choral Society and Black Dyke Band both have their roots deep in our world beating Victorian industrial culture, outliving the factories and mills that spawned them. It looks as though Britain will have to look more vigorously beyond Europe, as we have so often done in the past. A degree of reinvention is required, beyond the 'big society' although more of that would help. How do you follow post-Empire, post- Industrial, post-European?

The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder- e-book at,, and Barnes and Noble. Paperback version coming soon.

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