My National Service was spent in The Alamein Band of The Royal Tank Regiment which for 3 seasons, 1949 to 1952 played at Bognor Regis for two months on the promenade bandstand in the afternoons and in Hotham Park in the evenings. On one occasion we played in the theatre as part of a midnight matinee held to raise money for relief work for the Lynmouth Flood disaster. I recall this concert vividly as it was compared by Chesney Allen of Flanagan and Allen and the star of the show was the great comedian Dick Emery whose genius carried the whole show. I was in the Band as a singer of Ballads and Gilbert and Sullivan and other light operatic items but I was disappointed that in this concert I was not billed to sing my usual songs but , instead became the vocalist for our Dance Orchestra where I sang several suitable ballads. I was jealous that Brychan Powell the tenor from the season show got to sing the love duet from La Boheme with the pretty soprano. Another celebrity, Margaret Eaves , a soprano who was a well known broadcaster also sang.
The summers of 1950 1951 and 1952 seemed to have endless sunshine. If it rained there was a possibility that we might miss a performance. Sometimes we hoped for this to give us a chance to go to the cinema but in the years I sang we only missed 2 performances, one of which was typically on August Monday when it poured down all day and the poor trippers from London camped out in doorways with their children until the trip trains returned at the end of the day. I was 19 years old and singing in public was a thrill. It had its moments when the jets from Tangmere screamed low along the prom when I was half way through "A Wand'ring Minstrel"and Lt Lemon the Director of Music used to think it amusing to time my songs in the park to coincide with the clock on the hall striking 9 pm.in a different key to the song I was enjoying.
The dear old ladies who were my most ardent fans have all left their knitting and their deck chairs long ago and even the young girls who fluttered their eyelashes to the bandsmen will be in their 70s like me. Ah Me!! Happy Days. I only returned once to Bognor from my Burnley home to find the bandstand on the prom working as a Magic Roundabout. The halcyon Days of Bands in the Park seem to have gone with a lot of other things that have passed away in the second half of the 20th Century. Alan Binns.
A memory shared byon Jan 26th, 2009.
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