Thursday, 20 May 2010

Help for heroes

The Chapel at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea is a fabulous place; built by Wren in 1692, it provided a glorious venue for a concert we gave in aid of the Hospital last night. Our green room was the vestry and on the wall is a list of organists who had held the post since 1693. On the list were some very distinguished names but the most extraordinary thing to my mind was that since that time only FIFTEEN people have held the post with the incumbent approaching his 36th year in the job. Next to it was a list of chaplains for the same period and the names were legion - I mentioned this to the chaplain who ruefully pointed out that the musicians get paid more!

It was a wonderful evening and I spent half an hour chatting to an old soldier who is trying, at the age of 90, to get back to Italy in September so he can visit the graves of those friends he lost there. Unfortunately he cannot afford the cost of going (a carer needs to accompany him). I have resolved to try and help; he fought very close to where my mother grew up and having recently read James Holland's book on the final year of the war in Italy, and from hearing the stories of my family, I know that it was one of the most attritional, brutal campaigns of the entire war.

The Carmen company arrives in force today and in less than a fortnight we're off...
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