My name is Emma Peacock, I’m an Army musician and I play flute and piccolo in The Band and Bugles of The Rifles. I have been here a year and a half now, after completing Phase 1 training at ATR Pirbright and Phase 2 at The Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall.
Values and standards
Wow, where to start, we’ve been so busy! Before Christmas we had MATTs (Military Annual Training Test) week, which started with a PFA (Personal Fitness Assessment). It was a cold morning for our biannual test and we smashed out our press-ups and sit-ups in the gym before running the mile and a half route. Those who came in first shouted encouragement to the others still running (normally “RUN FASTER!”)! That afternoon we completed another part of our training with a talk from the Padre about Values and Standards. It turned into quite a discussion and was a good and informative afternoon.
Tuesday’s proceedings were going well and the band was on fire during full band! However, this was rudely interrupted by the CDT (Compulsory Drugs Test) team who test all units within the Army at random intervals. That afternoon was exciting for a few of us in the Band and Bugles as we were moving into new accommodation! It’s called SLAM (Single Living Accommodation Modernisation) and means we now have our own rooms with en-suite bathrooms and a communal social room and kitchen. We now live next door to work so there’s going to be no excuse if we’re ever late!
The next few days we continued with our normal musical training as well as a few more tests. This included our WHT (Weapons Handling Test) which thankfully we all passed.
Accoustics were wonderful
Friday was the dreaded day of the week! We had our AFT (Army Fitness Test), an 8-mile run with Bergen and weapons. Our band PTI, Corporal Jessop, took 2 groups out that morning, so did 16 miles overall! I have no idea how he managed it! We all passed, though it was emotional. After getting showered and changed we met up in the Band and Bugle Bar for leaving drinks for a few of the Buglers who are returning to Battalion and Sergeant Mepstead, who’s off to the Royal Military School of Music as a Foundation Course Supervisor. At this time secret Santa presents were also handed out. There were a few funny ones but it’s all in good humour!
While the majority of the Band and Bugles were resting on Saturday, the woodwind quintet travelled to theRoyal Naval College, Greenwich. We were there for a job in the Painted Hall to say farewell to the British Services Antarctic Expedition. It was set in a beautiful hall and the acoustics were wonderful to play in.
That week the band, minus buglers, went to Winchester Cathedral to play for the annual Garrison Carol Concert. My favourite bit of the evening had to be at the end of the service when the prayers finished and our Bandmaster, WO1 Brydon, yelled in his best Noddy Holder voice, “It’s Christmas” and we started to play Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everyone”, completely stunning the congregation!
After a long drive the Band and Bugles arrived in Germany for a week of Christmas jobs. The first couple of days only a couple of quintets were needed so it was quiet for the rest of us. During the rest of the week we did many Christmas-related jobs. There were Christingle services and carol services galore! The bus journeys were interesting too, with our driver getting lost countless times, and having to take off the trailer to do a three-point turn. This only seemed like a good idea until he tried to turn the fully loaded trailer round by hand! Luckily a few of our lads were kind enough to help him out with the heavy lifting! The jobs were all worthwhile and we sent many soldiers away ready for the festive season.
Well that was all before Christmas so I hope you all had a very merry time, full of friends, family and laughs! We’re back at work now, ready and eager for the New Year to start!