Monday, August 27, 2007

Land of Hope and Glory

A few hours ago I stood in a field amid thousands of people at an outdoor concert. The English are rarely given to open displays of patriotism, but tonight we stood as one and sang together 'Land of Hope and Glory'.

Next to me a girl was waving her Union Flag high in the air. As she sang the words ' God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet', tears flowed down her cheeks.
I live a few miles from the Norman town of Battle. Every year a concert is held on the field where the Battle Of Hastings was fought in 1066. On that day the English were defeated.
Tonight I joined in an evening of music and song by the London Symphonia and opera superstar Leslie Garrett.

I went well prepared. I packed myself a little picnic of English cheddar salad , Chelsea buns and a bottle of Sussex wine, and set of with my three legged stool and my camera.

A walk through the grounds of the Abbey brought me to the battle field where I marked out my territory and settled down for an orgy of culture and entertainment. All around groups were organising their tables, chairs and candelabra, and tucking to elaborate meals washed down with fine wines and champagne.

The evening started with a selection of English music during which a WW11 Spitfire performed a series of low level manoeuvres above my head.

We were then treated to pieces from well known operas. I simply melted to the sound of Puccini's 'O mio babbino caro'.

Unfortunately the group immediately in front of me seemed oblivious to the wonderful music being played out before them, and talked among themselves as loudly as possible as if the orchestra was some kind of intrusion in their conversation! It occurred to me that they might have been better off by saving themselves 24 pounds a ticket and had a picnic in another field! So I moved!

Once again I set up my area, and enjoyed a feast of songs from the musicals. As the evening went on , the sun set, and a huge moon appeared above the trees.

Later in the proceedings we got all patriotic! The crowd were suddenly silenced as the opening chords of Elgar's Nimrod filled the air. This piece of music is so emotive - so quintessentially English. I closed my eyes, raised my glass into the air, then suddenly one leg of my little stool sank in the ground, sending me flying onto my back, showering me with wine!

I regained my composure and wallowed in sentimentality as the strains of Jerusalem, Pomp and Circumstance and Land of Hope and Glory brought the multitude to their feet. All around was a sea of red white and blue flags. Any thoughts of one day leaving this sceptred Isle, evaporated into the warm night air. Then the sky filled with colour as a firework display danced along with the orchestra in a magnificent and moving climax to a truly wonderful evening of entertainment.

Land of Hope and Glory, fortress of the Free,
How may we extol thee, praise thee, honour thee.


  1. My Lord, Keith you are a fantastically colorful writer. I read this piece and could hear the orchestra. I could see the group before you, chattering away as if the music were some rag-tag hillbilly group from Saint Anthony's, Newfoundland playing an ugly stick. I could feel the wine running down my shirt. yew! I smell like a winery!

  2. That last photo is sooooo coool. Love it.
    I like the phrase "orgy of culture."
    I love outdoor concert events like that. We have lots of them in Omaha.


  3. I too am a sucker for anything patriotic!
    What a wonderful post!

    I was wondering, after seeing you new book, do you know someone with asbergers? A very dear friend of mine has a 5 year old son with autism.
    He is non verbal but finds ways to communicate. This syndrome absolutely baffles me. In many areas he shows such intelligence!
    He is the most gentle and loving little guy, and is dearly loved by all, and he sure can teach us patience!

  4. Great stuff KH. Must say that in the 5th photo, I thought, "Ah! That's where Sarah Kennedy has got to!"

  5. I would have loved to be there. The way you describe it though I could see it in front of me. We have these outdoor events in Christchurch as well complete with fireworks, organised and paid for by the councel.

  6. Keith; Please see today's entry, 'The Rising Blogger' on my site. Apologies for tarnishing your fine image but .....well, what the heck!

  7. dickiebo - you have nominated this post for a Rising Blogger award! You forgot to tell me where to send your cheque! Seriously though, thank you so much for the comments you made on your post

  8. Gimme, Morgy, Little Wing, Dickiebo and Marja - next year we'll all go - I'll even let you bring tour own flags!

  9. Dickiebo is right to nominate this blog.
    It's wrote with passion and I, too, can see and hear the music.


  10. Keith you are a riot!
    I will be packed and ready next year!!!!!!!

  11. Keith sounds like you had a great time!!!! Loved the photos!!!!!

  12. Once again you have done it. I feel as if I were there. Beautiful and so glad you had a great time even though you got a little wet.



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