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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Friday, 8 November 2013
Difference between London and provinces. I have several times noticed in provincial theatres and music-halls that the men in the audience do not stand still when the National Anthem is played. They do not even take off their hats (or caps). In West End theatres the observance of the protocol is still absolutely strict. This suggests to me that observance or not is class-based. Evidently the middle and upper classes, who generally form the largest part of West End audiences, are upholders of the status quo, and 'respect' for the anthem symbolises their identification with the establishment. Away from London, the working classes have a lot less to be thankful for.
I am glad to see this decline in automatic formal respect. Most people I think regard the routine playing of the anthem as anachronistic, and yet feel obliged by a sort of social pressure to comply. I vividly recall an experience of my own when, waiting for a concert to begin, the strains of the anthem began and people started to rise to their feet. Apparently some minor 'royal' personage had arrived to attend. I wanted to stay in my seat but felt progressively more unable to do so as the rest of the audience (at least all those I could see) stood up. So, in the end, I grudgingly stood as well, and felt cross for the rest of the evening. At the end, I made sure to get out of the hall before being subject to a repeat performance!