Few Britons could point to Muscat and Oman on a map. It was no wonder, then, that, totting up its scores of 200 national anthems that Navy ships play on official courtesy calls to foreign ports, the Admiralty this year discovered that it lacked an up-to-date version of Muscat's. The only version available was a B-flat clarinet score. The Admiralty asked the Foreign Office to forward the score to its man in Muscat for verification.
Six weeks later, Foreign Secretary Lord Home got a reply from the British Consul General in Muscat detailing his findings: "The Sultanate has not, since 1937, possessed a band. None of the Sultan's subjects, so far as I am aware, can read music, which the majority regard as sinful. The manager of the British Bank of the Middle East, who can, does not possess a clarinet. Even if he did, the dignitary who, in the absence of the Sultan, is the recipient of ceremonial honors and who might be presumed to recognize the tune is somewhat deaf. Fortunately, I have been able to obtain, and now enclose, a Gramophone record that has on one side a rendering by a British military band of the Salutation and March to His Highness the Sultan of Muscat and Oman.
The first part of the tune, which was composed by the bandmaster of a cruiser in 1932, bears a close resemblance to a pianoforte rendering by the bank manager of the clarinet music enclosed with your lordship's dispatch. The only further testimony I can obtain of the correctness of this music is that it reminds a resident of longstanding of a tune once played by a long-defunct band of the now disbanded Muscat infantry, and known at the time to noncommissioned members of His Majesty's forces as (I quote the vernacular) Gawd Strike the Sultan Blind. "I am informed by the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs that there are now no occasions on which the Salutation is officially played. The last occasion on which it was known to have been played at all was on a Gramophone at an evening reception given by the Military Secretary of the Sultan, who inadvertently sat on the record afterwards and broke it." The Foreign Office had no comment, but a Navy man said admiringly: "They do write good letters down in Muscat." Fact is the British Consul General has little else to do, apart from requesting manumission for escaping slaves, who by tradition become entitled to freedom if they can manage to enter his compound and clasp both hands around his flagpole."