Crowning Moments

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

I must take you back a few weeks to a column I wrote extolling the magnificence of the ODCI Cadet Corps and the musical and military excellence of their marching bugle band. As you will no doubt will remember, I am referring to the teenaged troops of the early 50’s (1950s, not 1850s, as some jealous wag has suggested, probably some scoundrel from Barrie. They are not that far up the evolutionary scale down there.)

If you will recall I closed with the described vision of a battalion of handsome young men marching (one or two actually in step) down West Street cheered on by the sighs of dozens of lusty young maidens lined up along the way. The beauty of it all brings tears to my eyes – although it could be hay fever.

‘What is that kook running on about this time?’ I hear you ask. What just happened to bring back the memory of that priceless moment in time to fill this 85 year-old bozo with such emotion that he had to change his underwear? I think he must be long overdue for another psychiatric assessment. The first two or three have obviously worn off and someone needs to change his medication.’

It was King Charles III’s coronation that brought this on of course. It was spending hours watching hundreds of splendidly-attired troops in full regimental regalia as they marched proudly ahead of the Royal Carriages to the stirring music of the assembled military bands of Britain and the Commonwealth. It was a magnificent sight and it will be remembered by all of us as one of the great moments in British history, and ours too whether you are a royalist or not.

It seems like only yesterday, but it was 73 years ago when our corps looked exactly like the military at the Coronation as we marched proudly down West Street hill – except for bandsman who lost his drum and had to chase after it as it rolled down the Guardian Angels’ Hill. He received no oohs, one ah, and a snicker as I remember. The snicker was from his ex-girlfriend who knew what a klutz he was – that’s why she dumped him.

The ceremonies of May 6th must have been the defining moment in the life of the King as he and Queen Camilla reviewed his troops massed on the field in the Gardens of Buckingham Palace. What a thrill it must have been as they removed their headgear to give him the traditional three cheers tribute.

I must admit I am a sucker for military bands. I always have been. I can still remember the afternoon at Exhibition Stadium in September 1945 when Dad came home from overseas after the Second World War. There may have been a few other soldiers there at the time I don’t remember. I must ask my sister the next time I’m talking to her. She still has all her wits about her while I apparently don’t.

Above all, I was immensely impressed with the King’s Coronation itself. I loved the pageantry and the ceremony that has been carried on for centuries. I think we should have a coronation at least once a week, or failing that at least once every four years when we change councils from one group of ne’er-do-wells to another. I don’t know if you have noticed but His Lordship Mayor Donny doesn’t have a great deal of hair and a crown would look quite spiffy – even a hairpiece of some kind would help. (It may be a good time for me to head for parts unknown; there are hundreds of McIsaacs around here. Cross one and you cross them all.)

I don’t know what it is about military displays I find so thrilling. I remember watching the Changing of the Guard in Ottawa years ago I was immensely impressed with the precision marching, the uniforms, and the ceremony itself. One woman was arrested just for watching. It turned out later she had sneaked into the barracks early in the morning and was caught watching the troops in the shower room. Apparently that is a no-no. There are just too damned many rules these days if you ask me.

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