By Adrian J Brett ARCM, LTCL

After some careful thought and deliberation I have decided to comment upon the RMBS Annual Reunion and enjoin others to consider my evaluation of the changes that have occurred in the RMBS in recent years—-and which I believe are the root cause of why so many were unhappy with the recent event.

The purpose of the RNSM/RMSM was essentially to train boys as musicians to provide bands for HM ships and during training our barrack rooms (with 8 in a room) prepared us for the close living conditions on board ship. The very spartan and confined mess decks on ships were very similar but, with the added attraction of shore leave in foreign ports, these same living quarters forged close friendships and engendered a tolerance of others: their personal quirks and idiosyncrasies, religions, politics and their humour——but above all a legacy of some lasting memories, and we older people need our memories like our pension!!

Can we really expect the modern RMB musician to appreciate how the older ex-RMBs feel about memories and reunions? There is no single serving member who has served a commission on a ship. They all largely remain in the UK and are essentially musical civil servants. We all appreciate and comment upon the raised standard of musical performance in recent years but I would politely suggest that though this noticeable improvement is welcome, the lack of sea-service and central drafting, whereby musicians could serve in many different bands, is at the expense of the resultant unified camaradie and esprit that older bandies experienced from our living conditions—both in barrack rooms (and not private cabins) and on mess decks—and the general movement of musicians from band to band. The situation now is akin to the old ‘group band’ format.

The suggestion has already been posited on this site by others: that we have the church service in Portsmouth Cathedral followed by the reunion in the RMA, where previous buffet meals have been exemplary and which has a fully functional and well-stocked bar. This would mirror the annual reunion in Deal on Sept 22nd these past few years (organised by Willi Watson) which has been hugely successful and expands each year, with the Memorial Service at 0800 followed by breakfast in the RMA and from 1200, drinks and lunchtime buffet at the Plough Inn, Ripple.

Best wishes to all,

Adrian (laid up in my armchair, immobile for 16 days with acute gout!!)

Richard Valentine - 1996 - 2019© - All rights reserved