Thursday, 26 April 2012
The Drummer's Tale
My solo Peninsular War campaign has produced another combat - this time Maucune's Division of the Army of Portugal, with a little cavalry support, are attacked on the march by a large force of Spanish irregulars led by the formidable Don Antonio Ximenez - "El Gigante". I hope to get this battle fought sometime at the weekend, so a report and an update to the campaign notes will follow shortly afterwards.
In the meantime, here's a story I was reminded of yesterday. It is amusing enough to share, I think, though it's military connection is merely incidental.
A friend of mine, who is a professional drummer, received a phone call some years ago from the Glasgow branch of the Musicians' Union, apologising for the short notice, but could he possibly play at a dinner-dance function the following Saturday? It was to be primarily Scottish Country dance music, and it was £200 - which even now would be extraordinarily good money.
Well, yes - he normally didn't do this kind of work, but he certainly could handle it, and he could most definitely handle the money. He was instructed to arrive at 8:30pm at a castle, no less, somewhere in the wilds of Ayrshire, in formal evening suit, and ask for a Major McGuigan, who was the organiser. The dance was for the regimental association of a very famous Scottish regiment.
On the appointed evening, he arrived as instructed, to find that a large number of retired officers and their wives were seated at dinner. Major McGuigan (retired) showed him into a vast ballroom, and asked him to set up his kit, and the dancers would be through in about half an hour. My friend asked where was the rest of the band, and was told that there was no band - he was the band. The Association liked to dance to gramophone records of Scottish dance music, played on a huge old stereogram, and they liked to have a drummer play along to keep them right. This seemed bizarre in the extreme to my friend, but he entered into the spirit of the evening and it really went astonishingly well. He actually enjoyed himself, and everyone seemed most happy.
When the dancing came to an end, the organiser said a few words - the date of the next event, thanks to all and sundry, all that. Then followed an awkward silence, with the dancers still on the floor. Eventually, the Major said to the drummer, "We always finish with the National Anthem".
Right. "Do you have a record of it?". No, they didn't.
Unsure what to do next, and in a state of what he describes as blind panic, the drummer played the introductory roll on the snare, then stood smartly to attention and sang God Save the Queen at the top of his voice. The assembled company all joined in, and the evening concluded happily. He got his money, and was even booked for their next dance. One for the Twilight Zone, though.