Green Fields of France – The Last Post

image Listening to music, The Green Fields of France.…..

We did an event, the Phoenix, called The Last Post

It was an event about WW1, 200 towns commemorated the start of it, the fallen of it and the songs of the time weaving through it led to, at every event, The Last Post being played in memory of our Town’s citizens who stepped up to take their place on the World Stage. A World Field. A World where in truly no man’s land a war was fought that was to end all war and yet, it was one that those who now denigrate each other’s way of life, belief system, culture and caste set themselves together and where even those who fought against each other found an commonality, a shared human spirit that came through and recognised itself in someone on the other side of the wire.

And we played songs to remember a time and poems were read to bring a short memory each time. Poems are relevant, a short report, it doesn’t take long to die; a poem or a bullet, they can both reach a target quicker than a restaurant bill arrives, a TV is purchased on Black Friday.

And what of the music how is that a place in a solemn time? The sadness we feel universally on this war where possibly others may not touch us. Many feel that WW2 was a different time, a recognised tyrant, a dignity given more to people made, by the sacrifice of those who went before in WW1, a freedom not to follow orders from an aristocracy to run towards certain death. A tyrant who wanted to crush Europe under the boot of his superior race and who wanted to annihilate those brothers and sisters who fought side by side but were not white enough for his new world. Abroad and at home people stood side by side. Cable Street saw the Facists off – are we doing that today?

And these people fallen in this WW1 were boys, teenagers and what of teenagers? Do they bow their heads and cry at life? Do they listen to the music, do they or did they, frightened beyond themselves whistle songs like ‘Pack Up your Troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile.SMILE’ in those trenches like a mantra to make themselves believe they would be fine. Did they? These are people, young people. And of the most enduring thing that young people, we all have, is music to express their joy and optimism at life even if that is in rebellion. Music had it’s place there, whether to uplift the heart or still it, Take away the silence, the fear, like canaries singing in a dark mine. They had that then and we have that now. And when people ask us what is it that we can learn, it is that we have that and we should never forget what gave and gives morale in war and remember that every day we fight wars in ourselves and every day we deserve it and owe it to them to make a stand for what we know is right. There’s no need to take someone else’s right. There’s no need to fight down someone else, just work on and remember what you know. That someone, somewhere once died for what they believed in, and someone somewhere once died because they were told it was what they believed in. Whatever the truth, people died because they thought they were saving a future. We need to make the most of it. Remember they died to make the times between the wars rich and encouraging and a better world. No one went to their death repeating the mantra of a bank statement or a business plan. They held something beautiful in their minds eye and heard over again a song from young,a lullaby.

These people fought and died for life. Not money.

You can’t put bricks, barbed wire or boundaries around joy. You can’t make a heartbeat not have it’s own rhythm

Stop the tide if you try, it will get past.

The best tribute to people who sacrifice their lives is to make an authentic life. The more I read about plans and statistics the more I realise they don’t matter because we can shape our lives and our neighbourhoods and towns by just wearing away with how we want to live our lives, at the rock that is only there after all by virtue of it’s temporary licence given by us.  I always wonder at those who berate the people that speak freely, speak the anti establishment line and tell them they are disrespecting the status quo that people died for. If I was a 19 year old boy being sent over the parapet to certain death, would I want to know that I did it just for my son or daughter to take my place and sacrifice themselves after me for something that upholds nothing that touches my life or theirs, or, for them to have a better world, a freedom to speak and a freedom to determine their future? That is the highest respect, to allow the generations after to step up to their own potential outside of the class assigned them and make the world happen.

This is towards the end of 2014. Every year on Remembrance day it’s a poignant very sad commemoration of young lives lost. So we learn that we go into 2015 with the joy of a young person with everything to live for in ourselves no matter our age and even more so if we have had the chance to have a longer life than Willie McBride.

And remember, if you see someone you know, put their head above the parapet walk in to no man’s land to face their destiny, you may not be able to walk in front or beside or follow them but; Never, ever shoot them in the back.


Whip Crack A Way To The Windy City …..Now In Woking

Calamity Jane - Jodie Prenger as  Calamity Jane. Photo credit Manuel Harlan (2)

Calamity Jane rode into Woking’s New Victoria Theatre to an enthusiastic audience. The opening banjo tune of ‘Black Hills of Dakota’ had people humming along and from then on every familiar tune was met with a response from people reliving happy memories.

The cast were a strong ensemble with obvious rapport especially  between Jodie Prenger as Calamity and Tom Lister as Wild Bill Hickok, which worked in the scenes where they spark off each other during the story. Jodie Prenger leaves no one in any doubt about her vocal ability which fills the theatre. Taking on a role most familiar to many in the audience filled by Doris Day in the famous film would be daunting to many, she fills those shoes and dances all over the score making her own mark and making her Calamity a unique and tremendous performance. The character she brings to the role, the relationships with other characters make it a heartwarming event.

Sioned Saunders as Susan gives great musical performances and as a character bringing the strands of the story through from introducing Calamity at the beginning. She sets the scene as her Uncle Henry Miller, the theatre owner bursts through the curtain with his brass instrument aloft, the Deadwood stage roles into town and brings the wrong actor, Francis with an i with it. Calamity is goaded to search for the famous Adelaide Adams with the promise that Wild Bill will appear as the Queen of England if she does. She does bring an Adelaide she found, who turns out to be plain old Katie Brown played by Phoebe Street, not so plain after all and who snares Calamity’s crush Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin much to her chagrin. The ensuing high drama settles into all the people ending up with the right partners, guns back into holsters and Jane has found her man, who appreciates her as a sharpshooter and a woman.
Calamity Jane - Jodie Prenger as  Calamity Jane & Tom Lister as Wild  Bill Hickok. Photo credit Manuel Harlan  (2)There’s something about the era that musicals of this ilk come from, we think they are reactionary and yet they celebrate those wild women of the west who trail-blazed their way through a man’s world. Looks like those two ladies are drinking to that!Calamity Jane - Jodie Prenger as  Calamity Jane & Phoebe Street as Katie Brown. Photo Credit  - Manuel  Harlan

Calamity Jane is at the New Victoria Theatre from Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 November tickets available from