AT last the American presidential election has come alive – the Loch Ness Monster got a mention. As Donald Trump and Joe Biden slugged it out in the surreal silence of virtual conventions, they have talked about the US economy, the Covid-19 pandemic, Russian interference in American democracy and the flaws of the postal voting system. It was only a matter of time before the agenda shifted to Nessie.

Donald Trump Jr took to the stage at the Andrew W Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. He spoke from the podium to an empty room and, looking directly at the camera lens and with intense silence engulfing the room, he could no longer resist the pressure and his mind shifted to Nessie. In a barnstorming staccato speech, raging with clichés, the younger Trump dubbed Democrat candidate Joe Biden as “the Loch Ness Monster of the swamp”.

Thank God for those precious words; at last the American election was all about us.

The Trump camp thought it had landed a killer blow, a jibe at Joe Biden that they were convinced would harm his chances. It was the first major gaffe of the campaign and it was an own goal for Trump Jr – did no-one brief this clown on the economic value that the Loch Ness Monster brings to the Scottish Highlands?

If Biden is the Loch Ness Monster then he is a godsend to bed and breakfasts north of Aviemore. Long may he hide in the darkness and pop up when the tourist numbers drop. What has Donald Trump Jr or his screeching girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle ever done for Drumnadrochit? Nothing; absolutely nothing.

I am a huge fan of the Loch Ness Monster and will come to Nessie’s defence in the face of sceptics. Nothing brings me greater pleasure than seeing a cranky Japanese scientist arriving in Scotland armed with the latest sonar tracking system to prove once for all that Nessie does not exist. We all know she is out there, floating about disguised as a tree stump and sneering at scientific progress.

The Loch Ness Monster is a great national myth and a phenomenon supremely geared to the postmodern age. She is a sign of hope in an era in which the natural environment is being ravaged by climate change, a source of continuity back to the distant past and a national symbol stripped of the earnest flag-waving of conventional nationalism. Nessie is out there somewhere in Scotland’s glorious vastness, hidden from history and miles from the overmediated Central Belt.

My love for Nessie, which has lasted since childhood, was reaffirmed last week when I saw how woefully Britannia paraded its bizarre national myths. What is more ludicrous ... believing in the existence of a prehistoric monster or yearning to be in the Albert Hall singing about slavery?

Meanwhile in the mythical land of Britannia, media reports across England were aghast that the Proms, an annual celebration of classical music, has considered dropping “patriotic” songs like Land Of Hope And Glory and Rule Britannia for fear that their triumphal associations with colonialism and slavery are out of step with modern public opinion. Like lumbering statues on a Bristol plinth, they celebrate the wrong kind of history.

Since neither Rule Britannia nor Land Of Hope And Glory are ever likely to join my Spotify playlist, it was one of those debates I watched as a car crash rather than as sensible discourse.

Neither song is heard much in Scotland, except for a few hundred football fans trolling the opposition. Beyond that I would struggle to count the amount of times I’ve heard either song here unless it has escaped from a BBC1 history documentary.

Yet the merest suggestion that these songs are ‘‘tone deaf’’ to the era has led to the retaliatory charge of the Gammon Brigade. “ I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions and about our culture, and we stop this general bout of self-recrimination and wetness,” Boris Johnson told reporters.

It feels very much like another country’s debate rarely breaching the Border except as dispatches from editionalised newspapers based down south.

INEVITABLY, the dispute came to embroil the BBC as they tried one of their favoured positions – to find compromise in controversy. For days the Beeb tried to triangulate the issue into submission, as if patriotism was like a marijuana joint that you could experiment with but not inhale. They decided they would play the tunes but stripped of the offending words.

The hounds of hell descended on the BBC, this time from brooding patriots of Brexit Britain and a right-wing Tory party which has already threatened to destroy an organisation they have long despised.

The BBC’s own press release was a masterpiece of appeasement. “Orchestral versions of Rule Britannia and Land Of Hope And Glory will be performed at the Last Night Of The Proms, the BBC has confirmed.

‘‘It had been reported the songs could be dropped over concerns of associations with colonialism and slavery. The pieces are usually sung but will be performed without lyrics this year, although they are expected to be back in full when the pandemic is over. The concert is due to take place on 12 September but without an audience.”

Not since looking at my last insurance policy have I read so many caveats in a single paragraph. Orchestral versions performed without lyrics, wrong-headed reports and an assurance the real resounding version will be back when the pandemic is over, when by some unspecified shift in ideology we will be much more comfortable about celebrating slavery.

The outgoing director-general of the BBC Lord Tony Hall later confirmed there had been discussions over removing the lyrics because of their association with Britain’s imperial history, but he reassured licence-fee payers that the decision was a “creative” one. He even delivered it with a straight face the way only the director-general can do.

Then the total and unreconstructed bawbags arrived. Surprise, surprise, the most vocal supporter of the unfashionable songs was Nigel Farage, who shared a video of himself singing Rule Britannia on social media, whilst encouraging his followers to “stick two fingers up to the BBC”.

So much for loyalty. The BBC had aided and abetted Farage’s visibility and this was their rancid reward. Thank God for comedian David Baddiel, who spoke for many of us when he referred to Farage’s rendition as “a c***’s anthem”. Frankie Boyle was unavailable for comment.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who is supposed to observe arm’s length political neutrality from broadcast content, tweeted that he had already raised his concerns with the BBC.

Unashamed about seeking undue influence, Dowden proposed another hilarious compromise, suggesting that the words be put on our screen as scrolling lyrics, presumably with a bouncing ball to ensure we hit the bit about slavery in perfect unison.

It was against this backdrop of pantomime patriotism that I retuned with warmth to a long-held belief. Let the rump of Britannia known as Little England wrap themselves in brutal empire, with its slavery and residues of blood and soil nationalism.

I will happily cuddle up to my soft-toy Nessie, they are welcome to the butcher’s apron. There is nothing wrong with ludicrous patriotism if it’s at peace with the past.