Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Monday, 19 March 2007

The Year of Elgar

Gordon Brown and the Bank of England are celebrating the 150th birthday of Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934), Britain’s greatest modern composer, fervent loyalist and supporter of the British Empire, by expunging him from the £20 note.

From the Elgar Society: "The Elgar Society is planning to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Elgar in 2007. With the approval of the government we have designated the year 2007 ~ The Year of Elgar."

With the approval of the government? The Year of Elgar? By removing him from the Queen's money? Where is the Pomp and Circumstance? Adam Smith may be a worthy replacement, he may be the first Scot to be featured on a Bank of England note, but he is already featured on the £50 Scottish note. Isn't introducing the new £20 note a major undertaking? Isn't the denomination by far the most common in circulation? Isn't such a move undertaken during the Year of Elgar being totally disrespectful to Sir Edward's memory? Yes it is, and yes, not surprisingly, The Guardian happily concurs, as evidenced by this revealing little tidbit:

But where does this leave poor Sir Edward Elgar? That "small c" conservative and fervent supporter of monarchy, the military and empire ("wider still and wider / Shall thy bounds be set"); that unashamed advocate of the "pax Britannica" and the muscular, Christian trusteeship mission of the British abroad.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the bank thought he belonged to a passing era.

Or perhaps, just perhaps, Adam Smith is from Gordon Brown's home town, and perhaps, just perhaps, the Bank of England has been politicised and thought they should pay heed to their political master, instead of the old Master of the King's Music.


Beaverbrook said...

This looks to be Gordon Brown's doing. It looks like removing the great man from the 20 pound note on his 150th has generated some controversy (according to Wikipedia), although curiously, I don't detect any whiff of it on the Elgar site.

Scott said...

Interesting way to further annoy the English.

And amusing that Adam Smith should be honoured at a time when Scotland is the most hostile to free-market ideas it has been for centuries.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

It is a shame to see the end of Elgar on the £20 notes (especially for me as I live in Worcester).

On the other hand, I am delighted that they are celebrating Adam Smith. Though I agree witht Scott about the irony of Scottish attitudes.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I never particularly rated Elgar. Those 'cello concerti, those Enigma Variations... some of the most boring classical music of the 20th century, and, I fear, a lot more in keeping with Elgar's style as a composer.

Also, he's only been on the £20 for a few years - we had Farraday until relatively recently. They have to change them every few years to make it harder for the big forgers and to void all currency which has been stolen but not yet laundered since the notes were last changed. Also - and this is, I think, the real reason why Elgar is going - the subjects must get progressively more hairy, because hair is the hardest part to counterfeit. Hence the prevalence of bearded chappies like Darwin and Dickens, and a Georgian periwig probably has the same advantages in this respect as the mighty locks of old John Houblon on the 50-pound note.

So I'm not to sorry for poor Elgar.


Beaverbrook said...

Are you kidding, Cato? Just look at that moustache. Just look at the man's Edwardian sternness. I'm impressed just looking at him.

Anonymous said...

Your point about the moustache and demeanour are well taken. I often thought of cultivating a handlebar myself, but it is, alas, one of the many wonderful things which would now seem ridiculous... Likewise, it's sad that we will never be able to walk down the gangplank of a P&O liner wearing a white linen suit and engaging a porter. Ah well...