With the summer season fast approaching and a season of carnival parades ahead of us, we took advantage of a fabulous warm, still, sunny evening to head out onto the local recreation ground for a spot of al fresco rehearsal. With the local neighbours duly warned, we kicked off playing through our tunes and rattled the evening skies with the rhythms of Samba.
On such a still night our drums could be heard across all the local villages and right into the county town of Maidstone, 4 miles away. With, I'm sure, many people simply wondering what on earth was going on!
One resident from Barming, a Mr H Rider Haggard, even took the time to write a short note to us.
Night falls somewhere on the remote upper reaches of the Medway
Carstairs jumped to his feet. "I can't stand it any longer, I can't ..." his voice tailed away as his knuckles whitened over the back of the cane chair.
"What's up old man" said Jackson, looking at him, a look of concern briefly altering his usual faraway gaze.
"I don't know, there's something wrong, God knows, I just, feel, oh I don't know...something's different..it's the drums, those damned drums, they're driving right into my skull" he sat down clutching his head.
"Hmm", Jackson nodded.
"I was down at the signal hut yesterday" continued Carstairs rapidly, "Jenkins said that Captain Stewart and a detachment of twenty men from the 5th Sutherlands were downstream about a day away, but the steam launch was having difficulties as the storms had altered the sandbanks. And today the damn telegraph is down."
Jackson looked at the beads of sweat on Carstair’s face, huge, like blisters. "It's the heat, it is intolerably hot".
"And the drumming, the bloody bloody drumming, you can hear it everywhere. What are those buggers up to, why don't they stop?"
"It's going to be OK old chap, we’ll be fine"
"Of course", said Carstairs, "Of course. I...I’m so sorry. Please forgive me".
"All better in the morning, eh?" said Jackson.
Carstairs stared wildly at the bottle. "Damn it", he said, "I will have another whisky.