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Monday, April 21, 2003
National anthems

'Today is the birthday of HM the Q.' This was the announcement that greeted me as I turned on my radio this morning. There followed a rendering of our dirge-like national anthem, fortunately wordless on this occasion. Americans would of course recognise the tune as 'My country 'tis of thee'.

How old young QE II is I have no idea, nor do I care. But this incident made me think about the tunes of national anthems. The Airstrip One tune is pretty pathetic but it is a superb piece if you compare it to the Italian kitsch. If ever I watch a Formula One race, I hope against any victory involving anything (Ferrari) or anyone (Fisichella) Italian.

The music of the Italian national anthem was composed in 1847 by Michele Novaro, to words by the young poet, Goffredo Mameli. This song, known as L'Inno di Mameli has been the national anthem of the Republic of Italy since 1948. Isn't it about time the country of Verdi, Vivaldi, and Rossini came up with something more mellifluous?

The ideal (musical) F1 result would be with a German driver in a German car - that way we'd get the German national anthem once and alone. If, as happened in San Marino, Michael Schumacher wins, we get the beautiful German anthem - tune by Josef Haydn - and the execrable Italian pomposity. But there are no German cars: BMW and Mercedes F1 cars are made in Britain.

So the musical among us have to support Ralf Schumacher. When he wins, we are spared the frightful Italian rubbish and we are guaranteed Haydn's beautiful tune. The car Ralf drives is immaterial except that it mustn't be Italian. It has been suggested he's looking for a new drive. If so, Ralf, please be mindful of the musical connoisseurs among us.

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