Christmas comes but once a year – isn’t banding fun!
Are you festive or a Grinch when carolling’s begun?
The band manager joyfully announces the fund-raising schedule for December. You look at the never-ending list with dismay and begin to doubt that there are only 31 days in the last month of the year.
“Death is the only excuse for missing any jobs” says the treasurer, menacingly …”and even if you kick the bucket you must arrange a dep”.
Your heart sinks as the ghost of banding past enters your mind – a dementor with gold braid and a bucket.
So many carolling jobs clash with your personal life. Goodbye office party. Toodle pip to the lads and lasses at the after-work binge and au revoir to Christmas eve around a cosy fire. All displaced by hark the herald, several merry gentlemen, and a host of other holly infested gremlins from the little red book.
As much as you think you can get out of it – you can’t…not a cat’s chance in hell! Festive peer pressure has a tight lid. It’s bomb proof and you are trapped like a wasp in a jam jar. To make it worse you are told to look the part. Tinsel around the bell end, in full uniform and just to put the Santa’s hat on it (which you will also be wearing) every job, bar one is outside.
But is it really as bad as you expect it to be? The first event is turning on the local Christmas lights. As you step out of the front door you whisper hoarsely to your other half…” I may be gone for some time…” and venture out into the arctic wilderness.
It’s absolutely freezing and raining so hard it makes your head bleed. The hurricane force gale turns your carol book inside out, fluttering in the wind like a claret bat.
The local Santa’s beard is twelve feet away from his chin on a length of straining knicker elastic. No-one hears the excruciating speech by the local Mayor in the maelstrom but know it’s finished when the Christmas lights flicker into life accompanied by ‘Ooooh’s’ and ‘Aaaah’s’ Two hours of frostbite, twelve Rudolf’s, twenty silent nights, several little donkeys et al and it’s off to the pub to defrost.
But alas there is no room at the inn as the general public have filled it to the rafters while you and your not so merry banding mates were packing the stands away. You slope off home…wet, frozen, miserable BUT! one down…twenty to go!
The second job is a bonus. Inside the local hall with three choirs…deep joy! Death by ancient voices with creaking lungs and vibrato to cry for.
After a horrific rendering of ‘White Christmas’ that would have had Bing twirling in his grave you wish you were again playing outside and fumble through the inside pocket of your band jacket with the vain hope of finding a razor blade or two.
Next is the dreaded street collecting from lamp post to lamp post. Bad enough playing but who in their right mind wants to collect? The bucket brigade should be awarded the V.C. As they are screamed at, verbally abused and physically assaulted by folks being disturbed in the middle of ‘Strictly’ or ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’.
“Why are we doing this?” Growls the Bb bass as he wrestles with a broken strap.
“My back legs have gone, and my lip has had it” complains the sop’.
“Why can’t we get sponsorship like the big boy’s? Bet they’re not out getting pleurisy like us!” But needs must, and you have no choice.
Pay a monthly pittance to be a member of a brass band and what do you expect? Work out how much your band gets carolling and how much would you have to increase individual subs to cover it. Perhaps you may never have to look at the dreaded red books again.
Mmmm…. now there’s a thought…HUMBUG And a merry Christmas!