Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Beating Retreat

The camera never lies. Or does it. Here is a big picture with, relatively, small people, simply because Horse Guards Parade is a quite vast area and will dwarf any group in it, even a large one. The soldiers and horses Beating Retreat last Wednesday were, however, anything but small. Sitting in the stands as we were, all 50 of us, the bands and horses were of course much closer (and bigger!) and the beating of the music, the sound of the marching and the ambiance of the event made for a viscerally thrilling evening.
Beating Retreat is an old system of recalling troops back to barracks, or their equivalent, at the end of a day's battle. Historically it was drummers and later buglers who sounded the Retreat. Today Beating Retreat is a magnificent spectacle with Corps of drums, massed pipes, mounted trumpeters and military bands evoking a sense of tradition and ceremony going back centuries.
This extremely popular event was preceded by an excellent carvery dinner at 86 St James's Street where we took over the upstairs restaurant for a convivial meal. The choice of venue was perfect for it meant we were within a very short walk of Horse Guards Parade. From this start to the final drum roll it was a stunning evening when even the weather looked kindly upon us.

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