I've been away on a short break to my favourite corner of England - north Norfolk, near the North Sea coast. Trees, open skies, flooded fields, sand, dry grasses, marsh harriers, and white, white barn owls at dusk. And books. There's a good second hand bookshop in Burnham Market. When I was last there, readers of this blog might remember, I picked up a thin book of poems by men of the 8th Army, signed by Field Marshall Montgomery. This time, I found this:
This is the frontispiece from Lewis Winstock, Songs & Music of the Redcoats; a History of the War Music of the British Army 1642-1902 (Leo Cooper, London, 1970). What a find! The author combines military, political, cultural and musical knowledge in a learned survey of the music of the Redcoats from the Civil Wars to the South African War, via the Seven Years War, the French Wars, the Crimea etc etc. I will digest this work slowly, and with care, as it deserves. But, already, I found Winstock's account of the importance, and popularity, of Lilliburlero (what a rousing, heart lifting tune) fascinating. That our 'Protestant liberties' rested to such a degree on doggerel verse.
Another recent addition to my shelves came as a Christmas present from my son:
A marvellous compendium, and the sub-title of this book - A Celebration of the Commonplace, the Local, the Vernacular and the distinctive - could be a statement of all that I find most appealing in daily life. Yes, there are moments when the great, choreographed events appeal, but it is the 'commonplace, the local and the vernacular' that form the sense of place and being that gives me roots.
Finally, this, which will be familiar to many of you:
I have the rest of Brigadier Grant's wargaming in history series, but I enjoyed this volume the most. So much so that I have, of course, ordered some British foot for the Peninsular...