THE REUNION OF THE BAND OF HER MAJESTY'S ROYAL MARINES
October 8/9 2016
We (Me and Pam) duly arrived at the Home Club at about 1330, confirmed our booking and settled in our room after which we made our way to Gun Wharf so that Pam could "shop 'til she dropped", unfortunately there was nothing that caught her eye and so she returned to the Home Club with nothing whereas I managed to buy 4 shirts and pair of shoes!
On returning to the Home Club we found ourselves on our own for a while but it wasn't long before who should walk in but Olly, Mick Hickman, Barry Pettitt, Dave Seed, Sid Rose, Ron Hempsall and Mike Hutton followed shortly after by John and Liz Ware whom I haven't seen for at least 35 years so as you can imagine there was plenty of lamp swinging before we even got to the "gig".
At 1900 and after a couple of bottles of wine we decided to get ourselves ready and made our way to the mess where we were handed a tot of rum and Champagne for the ladies, it was here that we met up with Laurie Lovelace, Dave Stockham, Derek Usher, John and Cay Perkins, Ray Woodfield, Jason Burcham (I knew his father when I was in the Sussex Police) Mick Blandford, Merv Durrant, Roger Hollingworth, Pat Hill and Stan Putrell, there were many more but I fear the memory bank battery has lost power regarding remembering names and so for all those who I have forgotten, my apologies.
At 2000 and having assembled in the gym (by my reckoning I believe there were in excess of 150 of us so altogether a very good turnout) we settled in our seats to witness a very professional Beat Retreat by the Junior Band aided by some of their instructors, however there was a slight difference this year as the Corps of Drums marched on first performing what they do best, and, in this case, a remarkable solo drummer was accompanied by the Corps of Drums in a truly magnificent display of drumming, stick drill, precision marching and dressing, under the direction of the Drum Major who fully lived up to the tradition of finesse, well done the Corps of Drums. Two 3 beat rolls brought the band into the arena and I have to admit that as we didn't this year receive a programme of the music I'm blowed if I can remember exactly what was played, I do remember that the sound and intonation was tight and exciting and this year we had 2 horns playing their hearts out, the dressing throughout was extremely good.
The display was as usual difficult, but well performed, and considering, for some of the players this was their first ceremonial job, I think they performed brilliantly. We witnessed Sunset, Evening Hymn and Rule Britannia afterwhich Col Nick Grace informed us of the band's various comitments during the year and the wonderful places they have visited, as usual the band is always in demand and I reckon there aren't enough days in the year to satisfy every request for their expertise.
On completion of Col Grace's talk the band marched off to A Life on the Ocean Wave and tremendous applause from possibly the most severe critics they will ever encounter.
It was back to the mess for more lamp swinging, meeting new friends and aquaintances, oh, and the quaffing of much ale, the food this year was great (well my curry was anyway) and much better than last year as I recall.
The following morning after a hearty breakfast in the Home Club we made our way to the Cathedral for the Memorial Service, which featured the combined orchestras of the bands of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Portsmouth (The Royal Band), and Scotland, conducted by Lt Col Grace. We were also treated to some fine singing by the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir. I enjoyed the orchestral presentation but, I think the strings were rather exposed at times however the orchestral accompaniment to the Andante for Flute and Orchestra (W A Mozart) superb and really did enhance the Flute solo which was played beautifully. The "Two English Idylls" played prior to the Flute solo were well performed and "A Shropshire lad" was fine music befitting the memorial Service. All in all the orchestra played very well and a mention goes to the brass section and the woodwind with a special mention for the Oboe and Clarinets.
The choir as always performed exceptionally well but us regulars I believe have come to expect this and personally I believe they really do excel every year.
Mike Hutton has already spoken about the Fanfare Trumpets so I'll leave that part of ship to him, I do however enjoy hearing the Dr. Gordon Jacobs arrangement of the national anthem but for some reason I felt there was something missing this year maybe they didn't play as loud as usual or I was sitting in the wrong place, I don't know.
The service concluded with the orchestra playing William Walton's "Orb and Sceptre", a difficult piece but I think the orchestra gave it their best and to my mind it was very well played and a joy to listen to.
Many thanks to Col Grace for the weekend's music, many thanks to the people who organised the event and thanks also to all the musicians, bar staff, chefs. and last but not least all those who took the time to travel to Portsmouth to make it the "big" success that it was.