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Peter Hitchens – Miserable Sod.

Pop goes the Monarchy: The Queen listened to Paul McCartney – and I heard the end of the Royal Family

- So says Hitch.

The worst moment of all was the Buckingham Palace concert, where the poor Queen pledged allegiance to the vile new culture of talentless celebrity. Any institution that has to suck up to Grace Jones and Paul McCartney to get down with the kids has plainly lost the will to live.

Sir Paul McCartney and “getting down with the kids”. Where has Hitch been these past fifty years? Did he go into some form of stasis when Lord Reith retired? “The kids” parents weren’t born when the lovable Scouse mop-tops were first storming the charts. I would agree mind that Grace Jones hula-hooping was a bit odd but then Ms Jones is a bit odd – so what? Entertainers tend to be. Quite a fewer “classical” composers of yore were barking.

It is a measure of how bad things have got that Her Majesty has to pretend to like the cacophonous, semi-literate, musically trite rubbish that seems to have invaded almost every space in this country.I bet she loathes it, really.

But you don’t know do you Hitch? Or has the Mail hacked Her Majesty’s iPhone? As to the rest of Hitch’s tirade against popular music. Has he actually listened to any of it. Oh, and as an amusing aside does Hitch know the origin of the word “cacophony”? It was coined in a review of the premiere of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.

Actually, though it is almost dangerous to say so, there are still quite a few people who actively dislike pop music, not just because of its ugly intrusiveness but also because of the sort of people who make it, and because of the message it ceaselessly spreads through millions of loudspeakers and millions of headphones clamped to millions of heads.

The sort of people! Wow!

Its songs are the hymns and anthems of the modern religion of The Self. Self-pity. Self-indulgence. Drugs. Loveless sex. They are the exact opposite of the Queen’s pledge, made on her 21st birthday in 1947, that ‘My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service’.

That isn’t so much a shark-jump as a triple salko over a great white. And the comparison Hitch makes is bizarre. A pledge of allegiance is one thing. Pop music is just about fun. Get over yourself Hitch! You sound like some deluded quasi-feminist railing against pictures of models in Cosmopolitan.

I really do wonder how all the complacent commentators, who have praised the Monarch for trying to live up to this pledge, can square this with their equally gushing praise for the concert.

Oh Gods! Where to start…

The Britain celebrated last week was one which laughs at ideas such as duty and service, and which has jeered at the Queen for most of her reign precisely because she stands for these things – which it regards as stuffy and outmoded.

Only by treating her as a harmless, meaningless old granny, to be simultaneously indulged and ignored, can the Beatles generation bring themselves to clap along to a funky electric version of God Save The Queen. It’s them she needs to be saved from.

It goes on but I just can’t.


  1. Peter Hitchens thinks he is his brother. He isn’t. He can’t write so well and he doesn’t think so clearly. I didn’t like Christopher Hitchens very much, but I recognised his ability. His last writings on his own impending death were brilliant. Peter on the other hand is just a pretentious miserable old git with no saving graces.

  2. Barman says:

    Is there anything the ghastly man DOES like?

  3. Sam Duncan says:

    I usually like his column. He’s not his brother, no, but he’s clearly cast from the same mould. Chris’s stuff about his impending death was excellent, but Peter’s obituary/tribute for the Mail was maginificent too. The trouble for him is that he’s walking in two shadows: Theodore Dalrymple does this kind of thing infinitely better.

    And yes, he’s dead wrong about this one.

  4. Robert Edwards says:

    Hitchens, like so many ex-lefties, retains all the spleen of his early political ‘education’ with a crusty reactionary tone which sits badly with his “why-oh-why…” style of writing. Sometimes his column is readable, but more often it is curmudgeonly and faux-outraged. I have never seen the need to respond to ex-Trots, save to say “I told you so.”

    Ultra-conservative he may pretend to be, but he is not the genuine article…

  5. Someone in his 30s (please do excuse me if NickM has moved on without me clocking it) commenting on someone in his 60s commenting on the music choice of ‘a she’ (plus rather different from most of us) who is 86.

    I just love it!

    Best regards

  6. John says:

    I’m no apologist for Hitchens, but you have to admit the concert was shit.

    I’m personally embarrassed that we continue to wheel out such a collection of fucking pensioners every time someone wants a concert. I mean Elton John has hardly had a hit for thirty years, and Paul McCartney almost forty years unless you count the fucking Frog Chorus. Shirley Bassey sung Goldfinger in 1964 and Tom Jones did What’s New Pussycat in 1965.

    I’m just amazed they didn’t dig Vera Lynne out of the ground and give us some real “legend”.

    The whole thing was a parade of dinosaurs.

  7. NickM says:

    Someone in their sixties was in the 1960s. Anyway it wasn’t what Hitch has on his iPod but his hatred of anyone else liking pop music.

  8. zack says:

    Nick: Anyway it wasn’t what Hitch has on his iPod but his hatred of anyone else liking pop music.

    I don’t know so much that it’s *hating* the people who like pop music as much as it’s disappointment that the people at the concert is the best that England can put together – that this group (of rabid socialists/greenies/leftists) are what amounts to the cream of British culture.

    Let’s be honest, a healthy society needs its curmudgeons and moralizers – people like that give a society it’s ballast, keeping it upright and on a an even(ish) keel. Besides, you and peter hitchens are, in my estimate anyway, on the opposite sides of the same coin. You both rail against a differing moral vision; he prefers traditional morality with a focus on duty, faith and family, and you (in my impression, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) an almost libertine one.

    Ian: Peter Hitchens thinks he is his brother

    I don’t think so – my understanding is that he was very much in disagreement with his brother on almost every issue. I agree more with sam, they were cast from the same mold.

  9. NickM says:

    I wouldn’t exactly call myself a libertine. I think it’s both much more complcated/simple than that. Anyway that is another story, I hardly read ever read Hitch and my point was about just one Hitch piece. As to the people performing. John is right to point out the generally paleolithic line-up but I’d also suggest that means the likes of Sir Paul is about as establishment as you can get. Now It’s almost two generations since he got a gong and all.

    As to family – the heir is a divorced adulterer (as are Anne and Andy are divorced and Eddie is clearly gayer than a tree full of monkeys.

    Duty – Charles is supposed to STFU – he pathologically can’t and won’t.

    Faith – You mean as in Defender of Faith. (Note no “the”).

    And the there is Greenism and all that – Chuckles again. In spades.

    If Hitch was looking for the rot at the centre of society he was aiming at the wrong folks there.

    And yes, Hitch did have a go at people who like pop music..

    “millions of headphones clamped to millions of heads”


  10. zack says:

    Nick, I’m not a regular reader of hitchens, maybe read a couple of his articles, so I have neither the desire nor ability to speak for him (here he addresses some of the criticisms directed against his post up top. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but thought I should provide a link). That said, that sentence still reads to me as a jab at the quality of the artists and their message, and not the audience. The fact that they are ‘about as establishment as you can get’ wouldn’t be a defense against the charges of poor character and corrosive message; indeed, for that is all the more reasons for conservatives to worry.

    Also, I agree 100% on your points about Prince Chuckles (again, I don’t PH’s stance on the heir apparent).

  11. Nigel Sedgwick – What does your age have to do with your ability to appreciate music – of any type? I’m 65 and my music collection contains popular music RECORDED between the 20s covering jazz, folk, so-called ‘world’ and many other genre.

    Zack – I don’t think being at odds with your brother on what he says is in conflict with nevertheless wanting to be him.PH wants to have the same place his bother occupied, he wants to be given the same regard as his brother had.

    He may be cast from the same mould, but some moulds are single use only.

  12. RAB says:

    Peter Hitchens was always the lesser talented of the two brothers and has lived in his brother Chrisopher’s shadow all his life. And unlike his brother he seems congenitally unable to have fun, permanently stuck in the grey world of 1951.

    As to the concert, yes it was crap, but it wasn’t supposed to be cutting edge like say the Mercury Awards, it was an historic pagent like the Flotilla was, covering the Queen’s reign. I thought the Welsh Posse held up pretty well, can’t think what Hitchens can possibly have against Thomas the Voice and Burly Chassis ;-)

    The most offensive parts to me were the deeply unfunny “comedians” who were doing the intros. And Sir Paul obviously didn’t have the guts to sing one of his ditties that contains the line… “Her Majesty is a pretty fine girl, some day I’m gonna make her mine”

    But hey, mercifully all over now. We can look forward to “The Summer of Sport” can’t we? I’m off to France in a couple of weeks and after that I’m hibernating till the Olympics are over. So will someone wake me up in time for the Open Golf please?

  13. …aah Golf. “A good walk spoiled”

  14. RAB says:

    Obviously not a player then, ian(nto)b?

    Finest game in the world! A philosophy of life ( If you keep ending up in the woods, there’s summat wrong with you, not your clubs) and a game as mentally agile as Chess.

    I’m suprised that the Green Party don’t have in their Manifesto, making Golf compulsory, and forcing the Govt to build more of them. Mini Wildlife sanctuaries are golf courses, stuffed full of Badgers and Foxes, Birds and Bunny Wunnies, with nothing to fear except getting clopped round the ear by a little white ball now and again. :-)

  15. Played pitch and put as a yoof, but never since. I can understand playing the game, just, but watching it on TV? Hell on earth…

  16. RAB says:

    Oh I agree ian. I can’t possibly see what enjoyment or instruction/information anyone who has never played the game on a proper course can possibly get from tv coverage. It just doesn’t even begin to describe the subtleties of the game.

    Take the Augusta Masters. There are some holes there that you can see a ball pitch and stop 2 feet from the hole, but a little backspin takes the ball all the way off the green and into the water. It’s not just cruel, it’s insane, and you can’t see the 45 degree slopes or how to cope with them on a tv set. I have seen players putting in a horseshoe, putting away from a hole to come back on it, or what do you use from the fringe grass, a putter or a stabbed six iron, or maybe a wedge? That’s why it’s like Chess, you have to think about every move you make, and there are so many of them to get wrong and right.

  17. Lynne says:

    The line-up was inspirational. It inspired me to turn off the box and spare myself the vomit inducing grief. I caught the McCartney wrap-up at the pub. If that was the standard of the evening’s entertainment then I believe I made a bloody good call.

  18. The Apiarist says:

    IMHO Sir Paul McC looked and sounded like a reanimated corpse. And why on earth choose to regale us with the worst Bond song ever (yes, even crappier than Madonna’s)?

  19. RAB – every game has its subtleties of technique, even darts I suppose. That doesn’t make them universally interesting – fortunately. I might take issue about the need to have played the game to appreciate it. I have never played snooker in any serious way but I can watch the World Championships on TV and get a great deal of enjoyment. I’ve never done gymnastics at all yet I can watch it on TV – even the men! I’ve never danced with Ginger Rodgers or Cyd Charisse (sadly), but I could watch them with Fred Astaire all night.

    My theory is that there is something aesthetic about a given activity that attracts us before we actually understand what we are looking at. I can grasp the aesthetics of a well timed golf swing, especially on the odd occasion I managed it, but the rest of the rest of the game leaves me spiritually cold.

    Oddly however, one of my favourite Astaire routines has him hitting a series of golf balls off the tee while tap dancing, all without breaking step. Beautiful to watch and technically spectacular.

  20. RAB says:

    All I was saying ian, is that a lot of sports are tele-visual, but golf really is not. It’s played over and arena of about 8 miles for starters and unless you have been on a golf course to know the topography and difficulty that each stage of the game entails… driving, chipping putting etc then watching on tv, even with all Dan Brown’s tips and instructions, isn’t going to enlighten you.

    Snooker and stuff though is made for tv. As soon as it was first shown on BBC2 a whole army of grannies were hooked on it. They’d never held a cue or been anywhere near a snooker table in their lives, but in the twinkling of an eye you would hear them making comments like… should have screwed back for the black after that red, he’s way out of position now… Cos it’s all happenening in front of their eyes and is very understandable.

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