For Whom The Bell Tolls

Australia New Zealand Day Parade 2011

Scribe Mike Boxall

For Whom The Bell Tolls

 

The 2011 Australia/New Zealand Festival Procession

 

It was a cold Saturday afternoon in January with rain threatening so, as has become our custom, the Cinque Ports Drummers fell in opposite the statue of Admiral Arthur Phillip behind St. Paul’s Cathedral for this year’s Australia/New Zealand Festival march.

 

 

In marked contrast to last year, a respectable gathering of British Legion Standard Bearers, Pearly Kings and Queens, followers and spectators had also gathered at the statue. Our own Mark Lidinson, not having a Cinque Ports uniform, got roped in to carry the New Zealand Flag. Wearing a merino wool vest is a close enough connection with the land of the kiwi for us!

 

Proceedings began with the reading of good wishes, the laying of wreaths and the singing of the Australian National Anthem. Then it was “Side Drummers ready.” – “’Shun!” – “Corps of Drums, by the centre, quick march.” and we were off with a jaunty rendition of Waltzing Matilda.

A change of final destination meant a shorter march than in previous years, so after Waltzing Matilda we only had time to play Galanthia, The Adjutant, The Great Escape and Killaloe.

 

We followed the All Blacks’ tradition of having a strong Back Row (Peter Nightingale, ‘Jake’ Thackery and David Lear). And, to continue the rugby scrum analogy, a surprise selection at ‘hooker’ in the centre of the Front Row saw Roger Davenport take up the Side Drum with Mike Cheeseman and Brian Winchester as his ‘props’. In the Second Row was Bass Drummer Eric Harris with Mike Boxall and Robert Bannister on Bb flutes. This rather large scrum was completed by ‘flankers’ John Leigh on Bb and the F flute section – Phil Williams and Christine Fairfax.  

 

Whether our scrum achieved any conversions to our music amongst the bystanders along our route we’ll never know, but we made some determined tries.  

 

Our destination this year was St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate church. Named after the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, its bells are the ‘Bells of Old Bailey’ in the children’s rhyme Oranges and Lemons. On a more macabre note, because in the 18th and 19th centuries the church stood close to Newgate Prison, its tenor bell was tolled on the mornings when condemned prisoners were hanged at public executions.

 

With Newgate Prison long gone, these days St. Sepulchre is the National musicians' church and contains The Royal Fusiliers Memorial Chapel, with ground to the north side of the church laid out as the Fusiliers’ Regimental Garden of Remembrance.

 

As we halted in the road beside the Garden of Remembrance we could reflect that this year’s Australia/New Zealand Festival march had been shorter than previous years’ outings, but just as enjoyable.

 

In the quiet of the City Saturday afternoon the church bells stood silent - hopefully a sign that our playing had fitted with St Sepulchre’s musical and military connections, not a sign that we’d got away with murder.

 

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