Jim Mason's recollections
On this particular occasion, the effects were so intense that I lost sight of the band through the clouds of smoke, the band certainly could not see me (it did not seem to make a lot of difference!!) I looked around and saw what looked like a huge Roman Candle alight behind me and I remember thinking "What a great job the Sea Cadets are doing - really surpassing themselves!"
As the audience dispersed afterwards and the band was packing up, a very irate groundsman appeared and shouted "Do you realise that your lads have burnt down a very rare tree?"
From the rear of the band (Jamie?) came the reply "Well it is even bloody rarer now!"
Bandmaster Alf Seymour was the Depot Bandmaster at Deal when Vivian took over the School, to be followed by Dave Woods and then by myself. Incidentally, that was my first shore appointment in my career! How times have changed!
There are a number of anecdotes that I have tucked away in my memory, and perhaps I will recall a few ! They may make amusing reading.
Like the time when - as Bandmaster in "Kenya" -I was expecting a young musician to join the ship when we arrived at Bangor (Northern Ireland) and sent off a query by signal when he did not show up. He was traced two days later, patiently waiting for the ship to arrive at Bangor (Wales)!!
I did meet Raymond Few, he was a "Hostilties Only" musician during World War II - a French Horn player who was just starting out after being a student, and returned to the profession after leaving the Band Service at the end of the war, and worked with the leading London orchestras. I met him in the late 70's when he was working as an agent in London. He and his wife stayed with us at Deal a couple of times, and as a result, he booked the band for a series of open air concerts by the lake at Crystal Palace.
He always said that his time in the Band service (almost totally at sea) was one of the most enjoyable parts of his life, and the experience gained helped him enormously in his musical career.
When the new (Scarlet) banners were introduced, it was decided to have a full scale "Dedication Service" for the banners in the Depot Church at Deal. At that time, a full Fanfare Team of 14 players was kept "in reserve" at Deal along with a varying number of "spare" musicians ( the so-called "Draft Margin") The "spares" were known as the "D Block Rangers" and numbered anything between 50 and 80 players, their total function being to amuse themselves in rather pointless practice daily in D Block, under the baton of one of the "spare" Bandmasters, and to be available to augment the Staff Band (officially only 24 strong) for concerts, massed bands, Royal Tournaments etc as required
It was decided that the Fanfare Team for the Dedication should be comprised of Bandmasters only - for the sake of the overall presentation. Alas, there were only 12 Bandmasters who played brass instruments among the many "spare"Bandmasters accomodated at Deal at that time.
Solution! Bandmaster Jefferson (Clarinet and Piano) and myself (Solo Clarinet) would become Bb Trumpeters for the day. The drill went perfectly, banners marched to the front of the church for the ceremony, then recovered by the team and taken to the back of the church, where a resounding fanfare was sounded, from behind the congregation. Afterwards, Jeff and I were congratulated by many colleagues on having mastered the Trumpet so quickly. Fortunately, although they had seen that we did the drill perfectly, they had not seen that when it came to the fanfare, I passed my trumpet back to Sid Rose, and Jeff passed his to Jan Kessell, both Musicians at he time, who stood behind us, played the fanfare, passed the trumpets back and we then continued with the rest of the parade. Honour was satisfied and a full team of 14 Bandmasters had been paraded!
Oh! How times have changed!
This is something that I can elaborate on, and I have e-mailed "Noddy" to recall some old adventures. Noddy was one of the last National Servicemen to join the Band Service in 1957 and as such was auditioned by Vivian, Ray Woodfield Terry Freestone and myself. He then had to join as a Marine and do the full recruits training in a RM Squad at Deal, before being seconded to the Band Service. At the time the Deal Band enjoyed the services of another, brilliant, NS pianist, one Ian McPherson - who eventually went on to great things on the musical scene in England. We had built up a first class Dance Band, very much in demand around the country and there is no doubt that the backbone of it was Ian on piano. About three days after I took over the Deal Band, Ian was discharged prematurely to help him in his civilian career. I was faced with a major dance gig, and no suitable pianist! Noddy had been in the recruit squad about three days and I got Vivian to winkle him out on that day (he still had 16 weeks to go as a recruit) We fitted him with a uniform that afternoon and he did his first gig that night! He then never looked back! The "Noddy" epithet came because of his car, a Morris Minor, soft top (For which he did not actually have a top!) When in situ he did bear an astonishing resemblance to Noddy.
Episodes that I have reminded him of include a hilarious night in the Officers Mess at Deal, when we were due to finish at 2.a.m. The Colonel asked us to go on and we struck a bargain - we would play as long as the drinks kept coming - we had breakfast with the officers and guests at 7.a.m. and I remember telling the band that they could have the day off. Noddy and I conveyed a couple of the more advanced alcoholic cases to their homes in the Noddy car, and we did actually drive over the green in Walmer because Noddy said he was in no fit state to drive on the road. He was found later in the morning, asleep on the landing of E Block in full No.1's, with his feet in the music bag. I went home to bed and was awakened at about 11.00 by the strains of military music ensuing from the bandstand on the Officers' Mess lawn. I then recalled that there was an all day rehearsal for one of Vivian's fortnightly open air concerts. I had to explain why I had given the dance band the day off, and he sympathised after hearing that we played all night. I have to confess that I nearly choked when I got his Lecture No.6 which always finished with the words "Remember Mason there must never be any excesses"! Noddy had to learn a military instrument for parade and we convinced him that the easiest one was the Alto Sax - and so he became a sax player!
He really was a great asset to the band - he was strictly a non classical player. Another episode that I have reminded him of happened in Vancouver during the Tattoo visit in 1958. As you know the Canadian drinking law at that time was, in our view, archaic, and it was almost impossible to find an establishment with any "atmosphere" - we decided to hold a beach party, and the band (80 of us) settled down on the beach at about 10p.m. with copious suplies of red wine. Imagine our surprise when we were suddenly floodlit and surrounded by about half the Vancouver Police Force. Nobody had warned us that it was illegal to drink alcolhol in public. As the organiser and senior hand, I had to talk fast to get out of that one! I firmly believe that the whole episode was too big for the police to proceed with! They could not believe that we could be anything but stupid!
Noddy was also with us for the film "Indiscreet" - Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. For the dance sequence we were required to play a Quickstep, a Waltz and an Eightsome Reel. It took two days to film, the shot lasted about 4 minutes - and we never played a note! The dancing was done to Victor Sylvester and Jimmy Shand records and the music was dubbed on after the film was shot by the film orchestra, we mimed all the way through. I have never been so well paid for doing nothing at all in my life. The mention of "Noddy" in the Buddy List has brought it all back.