Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on Jingle Bells, Batman Smells – and inspiration for a new national anthem

Just spent a few minutes telling our three-year-old grandson that, whatever the big kids at nursery say, there is no such Christmas song as “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells".

Inspiration for a new anthem?

After last week’s item on the Palestine national anthem, many thanks for your suggestions on a new anthem for the UK to replace that dismal dirge, God Save the King. My personal favourite is “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from Les Miserables, although the second line, “Singing the song of angry men?” is clearly too binary for our enlightened times.

Re-written for woke Britain, it would go something like: “ Do You Hear the People Sing? / It is the song of angry Brits who are male, female, transgender, gender neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender and any combination of the above.” Catchy, isn’t it? I’m sure we’ll grow to love it.

And talking of national integrity, is anyone going to challenge Labour’s repeated claim that the only way to cure the small boats invasion is by “cracking down” on people-smuggling gangs. Most ordinary crimes are committed by opportunistic smack-heads with barely a brain cell between their ears. Pitted against these dimwits, British police manage to bring fewer than six in every 100 reported crimes to a conviction. People smugglers, in contrast, are clever, resourceful, multilingual and ruthless, creating computer-savvy networks and outwitting cops over the world. How do you crack down on something when it’s running rings around you?

I have just apologised to our three-year-old grandson who insisted on an internet search to settle the Jingle Bells dispute. Turns out the song not only exists but runs to many verses: “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells / Robin laid an egg", etc. Remember when this used to be a sacred festival?

But then I suppose every generation delights in mocking the solemnity of its elders. My little grandson has his smelly Batman to amuse him and my own generation in the 1950s sang cheekily about shepherds washing their socks.

Further back, in December 1936 when Edward VIII announced his abdication, my mother and her primary school friends responded with irreverent choruses of “Hark the herald angels sing / Mrs Simpson stole our king.”