It took a year or more to think of a sequel to The Exeter Whisper (2018), a radio work realised with 400 primary school children in which a short text decayed and revivified under pressure of being passed along individually and being misheard and reinterpreted.
This time I searched for a transparent and static text as a point of departure. I settled on the phrase God Save The Queen for five reasons. First, it is something one never actually says; secondly, it is something one never actually thinks; thirdly, everyone in the UK knows precisely what it means and carries a civic weight; fourthly, it is essentially meaningless, especially perhaps to a republican atheist such as myself; and finally, it is a phrase which will become extinct when the present Queen dies, as she shortly will.
Initially I wanted to have lots of people repeat the phrase so as to provide a map of regional accents and dialect, perhaps drawing on Members of Parliament as speakers. The corona virus crisis meant that faced with the Radia deadline I had instead to do this sketch on the spot, using a standard industrial sound effects unit which brought out the tones of my own received pronunciation and seemed instantly to dictate rhythm, diction, and a sense of musicality and ham theatre I had not anticipated.
This is a live recording made in real time on the afternoon of Tuesday 16 March 2020 in Resonance FM’s Frank Howling Studio. It is dedicated to Michael Umney and Margot Gibbs on the occasion of the postponement of their wedding. Title by Anthony Moore.