At two o’clock on 24th January 2009, in a backstreet behind St. Paul’s Cathedral,
the Cinque Ports Corps of Drums joined a small crowd at the statue of Admiral Arthur
Phillip RN, the leader of the First Fleet of ships to colonise Australia and subsequently
Governor of New South Wales. We had gathered for the beginning of the 2009 Australia/New
Zealand Festival and proceedings started with the laying of a wreath at the statue
and the singing of the Australian National Anthem.
Now you might be wondering just how many of the Cinque Ports Drummers hail from a
land down under, and you’d be right in guessing none. So what were we doing there?
Well, the first event of the Australia/New Zealand Festival is a procession and service
at the City Church of St. Katherine Cree. We were there in all our scarlet-jacketed
glory to lead the British Legion Standard Bearers, Australians, New Zealanders, a
Pearly Queen and some spectators through the City streets to the Church.
After the Parade Marshall and the Town Crier had resolved their differences about
where they wanted us to form up, we fell in in four ranks of three. Four side drummers,
a bass drummer, five Bb and two F flute players had abandoned their usual January
Saturday afternoon shopping or football trips to be there. Though we were nearly
one Bb down until, at the last minute, Drummer Hart appeared, breathless but determined.
We got the march off to a good start with a jaunty rendition of Waltzing Matilda.
Considering we’d all learned it independently and only played it through after meeting
in the car park an hour before, it went over pretty well. We followed that up with
our more normal repertoire: The Great Escape, Prussia’s Glory, Galanthia, Killaloe,
The Adjutant and The British Grenadiers.
1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums
Author - Drummer Mike Boxall
One of the high spots of the march was passing The Mansion House the ‘wrong way’
i.e. from the opposite direction we see it on the Lord Mayor’s Show. The low spot
was having to halt at the traffic lights there and missing the Drum Major’s horizontal
Staff cut-off. Words were spoken!
But we Cinque Ports Drummers are pretty thick-skinned and we launched into the next
march undaunted. Resisting the urge to play The Rogues March as we passed The Bank
of England, we were soon approaching St. Katherine Cree. More by luck than good judgement,
as we came up to the Church we were playing Waltzing Matilda again - a fitting last
march of the day.
After the parade had halted and fallen out the Drum Major, as usual, became a photographer
magnet. The rest of us lurked around in the background and chatted with Society stalwart
Ian Smart, who’d been in the procession from St. Paul’s.
It had turned out to be a great little march through the City, and, coming so early
in the year, brushed off a few playing cobwebs. It’s just a pity there wasn’t a barbie
and some tinnies handy to thank our new mates from the Australia/New Zealand Festival
in traditional Aussie style.