Pomp and circumstance in Balham

Listening to “Zadok the Priest” last week during the coronation, reminded me of one of the many times I’d sung it.

To celebrate various Royal happenings during the 70s, our Balham church twice put on pageants.

Because I could sing and act I was involved in both.

Having won the RE prize when I was ten, I believed I was a shoe-in for any major acting part (in fairness, this should have been given to Neil Pearson, a Tooting resident when we were all growing up – and marginally better actor).

We regularly inflamed the vicar’s anger by messing about during rehearsals.   This wasn’t helped by one line in a sketch where the vicar’s daughter had to deliver a line: “Peter, pass me your crutch”.  When you’re a teenager, and you hear the word “crutch”, it’s similar to hearing the word “sausages” when you’re six.  Sadly, for the vicar, we were all still mentally about six.

We sang many choral pieces in the two pageants – all of them related to royalty. But, for me, the best thing to come out of it was through a fellow chorister from Jamaica.  During the rehearsals and singing “may the King live forever”; “amen, amen, amen” and “alleluia” more times than you can shake a stick at, my West Indian mate taught us the entire lyrics to “The Israelites”.

If the vicar had known he’d have torn up our shirt and taken away our trousers, as the great Desmond Dekkar suggested.

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