Thought I'd put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) and
try to recall the events of last weekend at our annual "do".
year Pam and I decided to bring 2 of our friends to witness
the spectacle of our fine reunion, Beat Retreat and the
very "moving" Memorial Service the following morning
and, once again we were not disappointed, having made our
way to HMS Nelson after meeting you and gathered friends
in the Home Club, and, might I add, our predicted 1 bottle
of wine prior to the Reunion did in fact turn into 3!!!!
Anyway lest I digress, we made our way to the mess but I
was a little surprised there was no "tot"*
or glass of "fizz" for the ladies on arrival,
but who cares, the bar was open and very capably staffed
by more Corporals than you could shake a stick at, many
thanks boys (and girls).
we got down to meeting and greeting many friends from yesteryear,
some have slightly changed in their looks but, fortunately
we were given name tags (and dear, but never forgotten,
Hedley Lock wasn't there to swap them around, bless him)
so remembering names wasn't too much of an effort at all.
At 2000hrs we made our way to the Gym where we got ourselves
seated amongst a very large number of ex Bandsmen to witness
the display by the band. At the appointed time the Drum
Major gave the order Quick march and with 2, 3 beat rolls
the band marched into the display area.
image to the left is when (in 2002) Hedley and Dickie posed
with their marvelous neck ties. Hedley having travelled
from Scotland and Dickie from across the pond, hence the
geographic frontispiece. Sadly Hedley crossed the bar 2008.
year the band performed a basic "beat retreat"
the bread and butter of Royal Marines bandsmen for many,
many years, nothing fancy just great dressing, wonderful
(with a Euph this year) music and a very moving sunset ceremony
to finish, musically I thought the performance was, once
again second to none. The band marched in to Zeebrugge by
the late Capt. Peter Sumner a great march, this was followed
by the slow march Preobrajensky presented to the corps I
seem to remember by The Earl Mountbatten of Burma can't
remember if he was our honorary Colonel Commandant.
great Little Army was always a favourite of mine with a
lovely flowing trio bringing us to the drum routine beginning
with a Bugle Fanfare Cassassin written by A Piner (who,
I think is Alan Piner's son, Alan was of course responsible
for inventing and producing the memorable drum displays
we see performed by the Corps of drums today) there is obviously
a reason why Cassassin is so called and I would be interested
to find out.
static Drum display was as usual, superb, fantastic, brilliant,
phantasmagoric and any other word anyone else can add to
describe it, how those buglers manage to remember such a
difficult routine is beyond me and never ever "put
a foot/stick wrong" well, you know what I mean.
was followed by the quick March The Voice of the Guns leading
us into the sunset ceremony which was exceptionally moving
and I'm sure brought a tear to the eyes of more than just
a few of us, but hell, this is what we do and long may it
the Sunset ceremony had finalised the band stood easy and
Col Nick Grace gave us a short talk on what's been happening
with the bands and once again informed us that apart from
the instructors in the band all the members were in their
1st year or training, I take my hat off to them, their sheer
professionalism is a credit to them.
Grace did mention that "people" are talking about
the possibility of finance being made available for another
band (a 6th) so let's hope those who hold the purse strings
see the sense in such a commendable idea.
band marched off to the regimental March of the Royal Marines
a Life on the Ocean Wave, well done the band for an unforgettable
performance, following the departure we made out way back
to the mess to continue swapping "old ships" with
there was not a lot in the way of entertainment in the mess
whereas last year we had a vocalist, and a jazz band, nevertheless
a young lady keyboard player was doing her best to get our
attention, so if she's reading this well done your playing
was lovely to hear and we do appreciate it.
All good things come to an end but before I move on to the
commemoration ceremony here are just a few of the friends
that I had the privilege of meeting, Dickie Valentine, Tony
Oliver, Barry Pettitt, Len Lewry, Dave Seed, Stuart McLeod,
Graham Veroken, Knocker White, Hookey Walker, Mike Hutton,
Mick Hickman, Dave Stockham, there were many, more but forgive
if my memory fails me on this one.
12th October saw us meeting up again at The Cathedral of
St Thomas of Canterbury for our annual Memorial Day service,
once again we were privileged to see and hear the Orchestra,
Fanfare Trumpets and the Cathedral Choir. The service commenced
with movements I, II and III of Vaughan Williams' English
Folk Song Suite a lovely piece and a "must" for
all ships bands, the pieces were performed beautifully and
a treat to listen to.
second piece was The Banks of Green Willow which I was unfamiliar
with but was performed beautifully and an apt choice of
music for our service in the cathedral, the third piece
was Elegy for Strings by Kelly, I thought this was something
of a "challenge" for the strings but they pulled
it off and gave a performance to be proud of, I would add,
this critique is purely mine, perhaps others might have
different views but there ya go, different ships, different
last piece was Theme 'Enigma' & 'Variation1' (L'istesso'
tempo, by Edward Elgar I loved this piece the horn and brass
section were superb, I would also like to mention the Clarinet
player and the Oboe who both gave beautiful performances
when the music permitted, on the whole I thought the orchestra
gave a worthy performance and from where I was sitting the
percussion section were thoroughly enjoying themselves,
the orchestra's performance was well received by all us
church goers a big thank you to everyone.
enough I recall when I was in boys wing there were many
ruses used to get out of church and church parades and now
we queue to get in! Never thought I'd ever see the day.
event finally ended at the RMA in Eastney where there was
much lamp swinging and I'm told quashing of alcohol, I'm
afraid we had to leave somewhat early but will endeavour
to stay longer next year, all in all a thoroughly and enjoyable
couple of days.
Pam told me that more than once did she see our friend Sandra
wipe away a tear from her eyes during the best retreat and
the memorial service so "job done"
I am assured that after a recent conversation with PDM,
the 'tot' should be reinstated so fingers crossed. On a
conciliatory note, I must say that we can please some of
us some of the time, but never all of the time, yet, when
polite pressure is applied the results always seem to be
revealed. We are ever grateful for the recurrence of a tradition
that must be the envy of all the services. Mention must
always be referred to everyone in the past who have made
this possible. You KNOW who I mean.