Monday, March 15, 2010

Muck and brass

For some reason, I've always had a love of brass bands, the oldest of which (outside the military) marked its bicentenary last year. They summon memories of sunny days and ice cream and lying in the park without a care in the world.

They are Wagner-lite, encouraging the same swell of emotion you get from a good Gotterdamerung without the subsequent urge to invade Poland.

They are also a truly classless pursuit. I imagine one of the few perks of being a coal miner was having an industrialist sponsoring your horn, although I don't know how any of them could puff and toot for long with their lungs riddled with pneumoconiosis.

After colliery bands, brass also plays an integral at the other end of the social spectrum: the Stewards' Enclosure at Henley Royal Regatta, where the afternoon parping from the bandstand drowns out the drone from bankers concerned about their hedge funds.

And yet while brass bands seem primarily to be the sound of summer, I most adore them for the ceremony of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in November and the sombre, dignified salute that the nation gives to those who have fallen in battle, another classless association.

Like many journalists, I have a constant existential angst that my day job is far too frivolous and trifling. If I have one ambition, it would be to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph as the band plays Beethoven's Funeral March, which is more stirring than the rather dreary and plodding piano sonato from which it is derived.

But how? Assuming that becoming a member of the Royal Family is out, the main routes into wreath-laying lie with becoming the leader of a political party (Plaid Cymru may be an option), leading a religion, heading up one of the Armed Forces or being a diplomatic representative from one of the Commonwealth countries.

I wonder how one goes about becoming the High Commissioner from Antigua and Barbuda?


Rich Abbott said...

Great post! Love the line about invading Poland.

This blog is a really refreshing read. Keep it up!

Paddy said...

Thanks Rich, that's so kind of you. Spread the word...