The Ainley Top Bandstand has been given exclusive rights to publish extracts of the autobiography of Major General Fred Stanton, the well-known conductor, broadcaster, compere and raconteur. Never one to shy away from talking about himself, the name-dropping charlatan titles the book "Let's Talk About Me". In this first dramatic serialisation he regales us with another fine anecdote:-
"It was Sunday morning, I'd conducted the Lowestoft Brass Symposium at the Bonnie Langford Pavilion in Brighton the night before and was on my way back to my country retreat in the Cotswolds. However, some inconsiderate oaf had thrown himself under the 07:14 to Devizes and the trains were all to cock".
"I took the flyer up to London instead, with the intention of bunking over at my club. On arrival at the club, Lord Lloyd-Webber was at the bar. As was his want of a Sunday afternoon, he was in quite a state. He staggered over to join me, clutching a bottle of absinthe and two sherry glasses".
"We spoke about musical theatre, I remember he was quite nervous about the impending launch of Phantom in the west end. Then it dawned on me. Almost ten minutes had passed and we hadn't yet talked about me! Immediately I reminded Andrew that I had conducted the Brimstone Invicta Band in the now-legendary performance of Oadby's "Cat Amongst the Pigeons" at the Albert Hall only a couple of years before".
"After he had nodded appreciatively in response to that little chestnut, I reminded him of my biggest sacrifice in banding. It came whilst taking the Pottersdale Creamery Band to the Aberystwyth Invitational at the Tom Jones Theatre. Not a big venue by my standards, as I've conducted at most of the finest concert halls in the world".
"Anyway, the band had lost their sponsor and were skint. I was booked to do the Friday and Saturday rehearsals then the gig on the Sunday. In view of the dire straits they were in, I knew I had to do something. I took the instant decision to selflessly, magnanimously, reduce my fee to just £2,000 to help them out!"
"Anyway, we came 17th. My interpretation of the piece was a bit out. But my noble act had won me a whole new set of banding friends!"
More from "Let's Talk About Me" next time.