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
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
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.