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.

Lovely Jubilee

This week, in the UK, we are celebrating a jubilee.

This is the time when you buy a celebratory tea towel – probably overdue as your existing one still has Edward VII on it. 

I’ve never attended a street party; being brought up on the fourth floor of a Balham flat made it dangerous hanging bunting between windows. One false move and you’d be threatening the livelihood of Albert Pierrepoint. 

I’ve never erected trestle tables either, as they look like they could dismember a finger as if it were a bacon slicer. 

I haven’t got any flags except my giant FC Bayern flag – most people would find this tasteless, although we are celebrating a family who used to be called Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. 

I’m assuming every street will have an old piano pushed out onto the street?

Once you’ve established someone in your road is named Chas and/or Dave, you’ve got the makings of a party.

To get in the mood for 1952, all you need are jam sandwiches or anything which has come out of a container with the name “Shippams” emblazoned in its front. My allergy to beef paste will prevent my attendance. 

No, I shall be waiting for the dessert, which must be a Jubilee Jubbly. A dessert alliteratively fit for a Queen – and hopefully still costing 3d. 

I just hope that Brian May’s not on top of my bloody roof again.