Sunday, 26 April 2015

PTS 77 + Anzac Day 2015 + WW100

Justin Roys
Special Edition 77 of Painting Table Saturday. This week the painting table lay bare as I had more pressing engagements. It was the first week back at school and with the teaching came preparation for Anzac day. This year marks 100 years since New Zealand became part of World War I.

I played the Last Post and The Rouse at a service held at Tamahere Model Country School on the Friday morning. Children spoke about their family history and showed treasured photos, medals or equipment. Kerem (one of my guitar students) has a Turkish dad and his story was poignant. The Yaprak family had a castle, lived in a mansion and owned a large estate. When the British arrived in World War I, it was the first castle destroyed (along with the mansion), forcing the Yaprak's to flee.

At 6am on Saturday I attended the dawn service at the Cambridge town hall. One of the hundreds gathered around the cenotaph, there was a choir and brass band. I  recall 'Abide With Me'. The Last Post welcomed the dawn, followed by an Ode, a moments silence and The Rouse. Shots were also fired, ringing out in the silence. Nearby, a young child cried.

Cambridge Cenotaph
The story was told of a local soldier, Billy Beck, the first kiwi ashore at Anzac Cove a century ago. Leaping from the boat into waist high water. His mates laughed as he waded to the beach. As he sat on the rocks emptying his boots it was his turn to laugh, watching his fellow troops make the jump. Not all made it to shore. They were under fire. The Australian soldiers were already on the beach and had suffered heavy casualties. 

Remembering those Anzac soldiers we sang God Defend New Zealand and Advance Australia Fair. Cambridge RSA president Bill McMillan laid a wreath, followed by servicemen and ex-servicemen who laid poppies. Others from the crowd were then welcomed forward. It was a somber experience.

The Girl Guides March in Hamilton on Anzac Day. 
Later that day my wife and our daughters attended the Anzac march and ceremony in Hamilton. Jade and Ella are Girl Guides, Rylee is a Pippin. Meanwhile I at Eventide, a rest home in Tamahere, where I played the Last Post and Rouse for their Anzac service. Sitting in the chapel beside a row of returned service men, I found it to be a remarkably different experience to the school service the day before.

Then I was on the road to Tuakau for a blues gig, picking up my band mates Daron and Chub on the way. La Valla estate proved to be the perfect venue for an afternoon of wine, song and blues music. Before our set, I spoke to the crowd about the Anzacs and then played the Last Post and The Rouse. My drummer Justin (a Corporal in the New Zealand Army) read the fourth stanza of the fourth stanza of the poem For the fallen by Laurence Binyon.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Writing this now I realised we missed singing God Defend New Zealand. My harmonica player Craig Bracken is a descendant of the author, poet Thomas Bracken. Even without this, it was a moving way to begin what was a joyous afternoon of music.

I also had the opportunity to give Justin his present. To say he was moved would be an understatement. I've known Justin as a friend and drummer since we recorded the Don't Hold Back album in 2003. Painting the miniature knight and griffon was a spiritual experience for me. I even had it blessed at St Stephens church. Giving it to Justin was a precious moment I will never forget.

Qua tendis ~ Wither do you steer?

So, not a day for painting. A day for remembrance and good company. The quote for the day that rang true for me was from Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

God bless you and have a great week.

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