For many of us, the Olympic closing ceremony was held last night at the Royal Albert Hall. My first televised Proms was Malcolm Sargent's final valedictory appearance in 1967, and last night still owes much to Sargent's remodelling of the Proms. So we had the sea shanties, 'Britannia', Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem as usual leavened with displays of crowd enjoyment and banter that must have been familiar to the first Elizabethans at the Globe and the Rose. And everyone knew the words.
What a sad little thing is the 'Ode to Joy' when placed alongside the last night repertoire. And no-one knows the words, which are more suited to the squeak of the parish organ and the Sunday service than popular celebration. You can't goose-step to the music of Vaughan Williams, or Butterworth, or William Walton. Peter Ackroyd wrote 'If that Englishness in music can be encapsulated in words at all, those words would probably be: ostensibly familiar and commonplace, yet deep and mystical as well as lyrical, melodic, melancholic, and nostalgic yet timeless.' The best work of Vaughan Williams and his colleagues has no words, but those sung on the last night serve as some sort of proxy.
And now when the last of the priapic IOC members is swept back to LHR in his BMW limo and the last Lithuanian tart packs her bags for a winter in Tallinn, when the last inflatable nurse and orange HIV costume has been removed from the stadium we can get back to finishing-off Jubilee year. Oh, and I offer, in the spirit of the paralibrettos, that master of paralibrettics Michael Flanders, with Donald Swann of course;