Occasionally someone in government reduces a mound of polemic into a memorable phrase and we have the soundbite. Hence the pithy, if charmless, “It’s the economy, stupid”. A century ago they did these things rather better. Georges Clemenceau, French PM, 1906 - 09 and 1917- 20 came up with
There is no passion like that of a functionary for his function.
And, even better, the oh-so-inescapable:
It is easier to make war than make peace.
Finally, foreseeing the emergence of that force for good, Tone Deaf, he kindly emailed me:
Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
which I widened to include all brass bands.
I come from the West Riding of Yorkshire which has spawned many of these musical perversities, including the doubly politically-incorrect Black Dyke Mills Band. In the early days brass bands had a limited repertoire and merely occupied the leisure of men who worked fourteen-hour days down mines and in weaving sheds. All the tunes sounded the same which is what, I suppose, Clemenceau thought.
NOTE. My antipathy does not extend to the funny, magnificently splenetic, anti-Thatcherite movie, Brassed Off, starring the late and much-lamented Peter Postlethwaite.
Latterly, brass bands have taken on airs. The technical competence of the musicians has risen and they’re no longer satisfied with the Internationale and over-sentimentalised versions of Linden Lea. You can if you wish now hear a much-shortened Pastoral symphony (arr, for brass band). National competitions are held and the musicians’ “delicacy” is praised. Which is of course a nonsense. However agile the trombones, they can never match cellos. A string section, simulated in brass, remains a simulation. Monkeys with typewriters.
As my profile says, I renounced my West Riding birthright some time ago. This is part of the same shriving.