In Holland with The Cinque Ports RV Corps of Drums
When my friend Niamh told me we were going to lie down for the weekend I thought
“At last! Someone understands that we bears like a bit of hibernation in the winter.”
How wrong could I be! It turned out that this ‘lie down’ was really a place and we’d
have to go on a coach to get there.
When the coach arrived, I was a bit worried because in the driver’s seat was our
old friend Mister Fiftypee. I was right to be worried too as he seemed to have the
idea that I was a Polar Bear and he’d set the coach air blowers to freezing. Nothing
anybody said made him change his mind over the whole weekend, so I was glad I have
a nice furry coat.
Then I discovered this Lie Down place was in Holland and our coach was going to get
on a train and go under the sea. I looked around for the snorkels and aqualungs like
they use on the TV when they do under water programmes. I couldn’t see them anywhere,
so they must have been in the baggage lockers under the coach. In the end we didn’t
need them as the coach drove onto the train, parked for half an hour then drove off
again. I think they just told me we were going under the sea to frighten me.
On the way to our hotel Mister Fiftypee found all the longest traffic jams to join,
so it was well after my bed time when we got to the hotel. There’s nothing Niamh
and I like better than stretching out in a nice big bed, but apparently some of the
men didn’t want to share their big beds with their friends. They all wanted to sleep
in separate beds. I’ll never understand these humans!
Next morning we went to a sports hall beside the hotel and they walked about making
tunes with their hollow logs, little sticks and tin tubes. Then, in the afternoon,
they got into their uniforms and did it again. (Big Geoff was still copying my uniform
so I’m going to have a talk with him about this – and no coffee!)
In this afternoon session there were lots of people watching and other groups doing
the walking about thing too. First were some people dressed in green blowing their
tin tubes. They walked about very quickly - I think their coach must have been parked
on a double yellow line or something. Next were a group in white jackets who had
some noisybags with them. Luckily the noisybags didn’t work most of the time.
The rest of the show was a mixture of singers, gymnasts and more tin tube groups
who walked about all over the place as they blew. At the end everyone came on and
a man in a green suit waved his arms while they sang and played, then the watching
people all clapped.
That evening we went out for a meal in a Scout Hut and Mister Fiftypee did his favourite
party trick – yes, he did some backwards driving again! When we got back to the hotel
I went straight to bed, but some of the men were so worried that they might have
to sleep in the same beds as their friends that they stayed up all night drinking
and talking instead.
Next day I couldn’t believe my eyes. Even the people in Holland seemed to have got
the idea I’m a Polar Bear because they’d put lots of snow everywhere for me!
Somebody must have decided that the show hadn’t gone right yesterday so everyone
did it twice more even with the snow! At the end we all rushed on to our coach and
the man in the green suit came on and gave us a picture with his name, WO1 (Bandmaster)
Richard Douglas, on the bottom and lots of letters after it. I found out later he’d
been given some more letters – MBE – by the Queen. I don’t think MBE sounds as good
as CDM and bar, though.
After Mister Fiftypee had made sure the air conditioning was set to ‘arctic’ we drove
off. He couldn’t find any traffic jams to join so we were ready in good time to drive
on to the train. But we didn’t drive on to the train. Instead everyone went and got
some tin foil, wrapped themselves in it and tried to sleep on the little coach seats.
These humans haven’t got the first idea about how to hibernate!
In the end we did get on to the train and drove off in Dover just as dawn was breaking.
I don’t know what plans everyone else had, but I was planning to find somewhere nice
and warm and have a good long sleep until April. Now that’s what I call a lie down!
Major Geoffrey Cuddles CDM and Bar
Some pictures of Drum Major Geoffrey Cuddles enjoying his visit to the Leiden International
Military Xmas Tattoo