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Brigg Town Band
by James - 21:27 on 06 March 2010
In September 1973, when I was 12 years old, I was playing football in the back garden of the house of my best friend, Paul Sarsfield, when his mother came to the door and called him. "It's time for band" she said. "Band?", I echoed. "What is band, and can I come, too?".
"Band" turned out to be the learner group of the Brigg Town Band which met once a week in a back room above The Dying Gladiator pub in the centre of Brigg, a small market town in North Lincolnshire.
I can't recall now what instrument Paul played but I don't think he continued with the band for very long after he had introduced me to it. (I know what you're thinking - but, although his finishing may have followed my starting, those two events were in no way connected. Banding just wasn't Paul's thing.)
When we arrived at band practice I was greeted warmly by a senior band member, Taffy Jones, who kindly thrust a trombone into my hand (it was the only spare instrument available).
I don't remember too much about how that first rehearsal went but I do remember going home with the trombone (a Boosey & Hawkes "peashooter") and a small musical instruction booklet which was originally for 2nd Baritone but which Taffy "modified" for trombone by simply crossing out the fingering and replacing it with slide positions.
That one, chance incident, an accident of timing, changed the direction of my life completely.
I had a great time while I was playing for Brigg. The then secretary, Brenda Connor, was lovely and, perhaps unknown to her, she made a huge impression on me when she gave me a great pile of old copies of The British Bandsman to read. Not long after, I took out a subscription myself (or, at least, got my Dad to!) and its arrival through the letterbox was one of the highlights of my week.
I was also fascinated by the Brigg Band music library and would often sit and study some of the band's old music sets. This curiosity brought my first encounter with Malcolm Arnold's Little Suite No.1 along with less familiar pieces such as Sea Dogs by Maurice Johnstone, In Tudor Days by Henry Geehl and Carnival by Helen Perkin (which I think was actually used as a test piece quite recently).