Archive for October, 2015
Sunday 25th October was the 600th anniversary of the 1415 Battle of Agincourt.
The Wellingborough branch of the Royal British Legion decided to use the anniversary to launch the 2015 Poppy Appeal. The Royal British Legion is the UK’s leading Armed Forces charity and one of its largest membership organisations. Members get together through the network of branches and clubs all over the country and overseas to participate in social, fundraising and welfare activities.
It is of course, not the first time that the connection between the conflicts of the 20th Century and Henry V’s campaign has been drawn – Sir Laurence Olivier’s 1944 production of William Shakespeare’s play was at the direct command of Churchill himself.
We were approached to attend a flag raising ceremony, and to perform the famous St Crispin’s Day speech from the play.
The Poppy Appeal is a Charity we have particular respect for – a number of our members are currently serving soldiers or veterans, and we were only too glad to have taken part.
The speech itself is as below:
WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin, Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester–
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
In our opinion, the best version is in the Kenneth Branagh version from the late 80’s
As it was an early start we assembled at the local Morrison’s Car Park before making our way over to the stage. This seemed suitably fitting, given the recent association between King’s and Car Parks of late.
The RBL were excellent hosts and gave us a warm welcome on a chilly October morning. It’s always humbling when you meet veterans, most of us merely play pretend soldiers and have the utmost respect for those of our countrymen who do it for real.
A particularly nice touch was when seeing the gathering across the road, the wonderful staff from The Hind Hotel came out instantly with hot drinks for everyone. This was totally out of the blue and we can’t praise these folks enough, if you are in that part of the town do please go and pay them a visit – such deeds should not go unrewarded.
As 11am came, the assembled folk came to attention, and Ant went into ‘Frustrated Luvvie’ mode and delivered the speech. At the conclusion, the cheers of the audience resounded and the local Mayor raised the new County flag of Northamptonshire on the new civic flagpole and announced the formal beginning of the 2015 Poppy Appeal.
Let’s hope it is a success.
It was a great privilege to be a part of this, and we are most grateful to all at the Royal British Legion for inviting us.