1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums
Sun Dried Drummers
Malta - October 2003
Author - Drummer Mike Boxall
At the 2003 September Music Meeting of the Corps of Drums Society Col Peter Walton called for volunteers to form a Cinque Ports Corps of Drums for a short tour to the Island of Malta. The Corps was invited to take part in the Historical Re-enactments and Military Displays commemorating the 205th Anniversary of the Franco-Maltese Battle.
When you’ve selected your drummers, shake them violently in the back of a 3-ton truck for at least a quarter of an hour.
Then stuff them with pasta, pickle in alcohol and leave overnight to settle.
First thing next morning bind the top half of each drummer in two yards of thick red worsted, and the bottom half in one yard of dark blue tweed. Then garnish with pale blue hackles, being sure to set them at exactly the right jaunty angle.
When you’ve prepared the basic ingredients in this way, stand them out in the sun for as much of the day as possible, making sure you add bottled water at regular intervals so that they steam gently in their own juices.
When it gets dark, expose them to a fresh sea breeze for a couple of hours to make sure they don’t get stale.
Early on St Tatty’s Day itself (the first Sunday in October) is the best time to take pictures of this dish. It’s vitally important that you prepare carefully for this step. You must collect as many different cameras as you can – eight is a bare minimum – and make sure that you don’t know how to work any of them.
Stack your drummers in direct sunlight and take as long as possible photographing them. A word of warning here – your drummers may give off stifled groans and sighs at this point, and one or two may start to go a strange colour, but you mustn’t let this hurry you.
When you have your two or three hundred photos it’s time to prepare the serving area. To serve in the traditional way you’ll need a disused concrete football pitch. Strew this liberally with weeds, granite chippings and half breeze blocks.
Now you’re finally ready to serve your sun-dried drummers. You’ll probably find that you have enough for two servings, in which case it’s recommended that you serve first at mid-morning with a second serving as late in the afternoon as possible. Between servings lean your drummers against any convenient trees or lumps of concrete and continue to baste regularly with water.
If you follow these instructions carefully, your sun-dried drummers will always turn out crisp and jaunty, you’ll be the envy of all your friends and you’ll have the luck of Saint Tatty for the rest of the year.
(A Traditional Maltese Recipe)
To make this traditional St. Tatty’s Day dish, you first need to select a dozen and a half fresh drummers. More or less any drummers will do, but do ensure you have a couple of young tender ones, and three or four old stringy ones to give the dish some texture.
The Corps Transport for the weekend
Come to the cookhouse door boys - meal time in the dungeon
Warming up in more ways than one prior to the march into Valetta
Halted inside the City Gate - Valetta
St Edwards College Group Photo
Manoel Island Stadium, in the scorching heat
Time to cool off in the harbour, D/M Fairfax, Drummers Thomas (S), Nightingale, Pearson, and Robinson. Lurking in the background Drummer Boxall & Thomas (P)
Under the guidance of Drum Major Geoff Fairfax the Corps was hastily put together. The problems of uniforms, drill and music were resolved and Reg Davis sorted all the logistics of getting the Corps over to Malta. The Corps were joined on the trip by a military band brought together by Col Duncan Beat who were suitably dressed in the uniform of the time. Below is an amusing account of the activities of the weekend, for those who were there it will bring back the memories, for other readers it should give you a smile.