Just us and 9,000 Brexiteers, up for an evening of popular classics and fireworks at ‘Downton Abbey’ near Newbury. We were also treated to a stirring flying display from a Spitfire, some Napoleonic Wars re-enactors who we couldn’t see and a vertical arrival by the Parachute Regiment’s display team (of which more later).
It was a beautiful location, if a wee bit flat for ground-level displays such as the Light Horse. We could make out the stage but the TV screen was only big enough to help the compere and soloists stand out. Ryan bought us a package that included a pretty decent catering box. I don’t know how long we’ve had the Honda but this was the first time we remembered to use the picnic table from the boot. Incidentally, this feature is in keeping with the official amplification of the CRV marque as ‘Comfortable Runabout Vehicle’, which isn’t quite as ‘off-road’ as I would like, Had I known this at time of purchase …
Many of the audience put far more effort into their participation than did we. As well as many flags and hats, and flags-in-hats, groups of friends could be identified by Glasto-style flagpoles, chandeliers or a game of giant Jenga. And when the fireworks weren’t popping, as they say, the champagne corks were.
It was a grand day out. Oh, now that I am officially an OAP, I’d like to end by paying tribute to whoever set up the traffic plan. We stayed until the anthem and yet, as we exited the park, I don’t believe we rolled to a stop once. Very slick, we even filtered in turn like in Jersey. Well done that man. Or woman! You never know these days …!
PS. Many years ago my showbiz pal Noel Edmonds and I organised a set of helicopter air shows known as Helifest. Having called in all my operator favours for the flying display, in desperation I widened its scope to include the Red Devils parachute team (for it was they). The soldier who dealt with my enquiry revealed, rather nervously, that the Army had told them henceforth to charge for each appearance (until then they had been funded by its recruitment budget). I asked how much and he said, £1,000 (I forget the actual sum). In shock I shrieked “£1,000 POUNDS?” and he immediately retorted, “Oh, OK then, free!”
I have never felt more proud of my negotiating skills.