Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Armistice Day

I spent yesterday evening at the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, giving a talk on the Last Post as part of the Richmond Literary Festival. And very enjoyable it was too.

For those who missed my Radio 4 programme on the same subject, it is now available on iPlayer. And there's also an article I wrote for the BBC website to accompany the show.

And finally, on the occasion of Armistice Day, a further plug for my piece about the National Union of Ex-Servicemen, the most radical of the campaigning groups in the aftermath of the First World War. This was the organisation that effectively made Douglas Haig found the British Legion, so worried was he by their revolutionary potential.

Monday, 9 November 2015

National Union of Ex-Servicemen

One of the things that intrigued me when writing The Last Post was the role of the National Union of Ex-Servicemen. The NUX, as it was known, was by far the most radical, even revolutionary, of the veterans' groups that sprang up in the years immediately following the First World War. 'Instead of being the means to save capitalism,' declared the Union's general secretary, 'the organised ex-servicemen will now be the means of destroying it.'

Unfortunately, I had limited space to explore this in the book itself. So I've filled in some more details in an article about the NUX on the Lion & Unicorn website.

The Last Post previewed

Some further advance publicity for my Radio 4 show on Wednesday morning. Paul Donovan in the Sunday Times:
Other Armistice Day offerings include Alwyn Turner's melancholic history of The Last Post (R4 FM, 11am), just after the two-minute silence
The wonderful Gillian Reynolds in the Daily Telegraph:
Alwyn Turner tells the story of one of the world's most familiar tunes. Once it was just one of a dozen bugle calls played every day in British Army barracks. In the 1850s it became something played at soldiers' funerals. In the First World War, it gained its greatest resonance. Now it is played internationally to mark the passing of an era or to keep alive the memory of conflicts past and present. It has become the music of loss, an almost sacred anthem in an increasingly secular society.
and again in the Sunday Telegraph:
The Last Post began as a bugle call in British barracks, played to show all was secured at the close of day but, from the 19th century on, has become one of the world's most familiar tunes, played at funerals and state occasions. Alwyn Turner tells its story with the help of men who've played it. Its very simplicity makes it hard to play perfectly but, as we hear, there's something about it that uniquely signals sadness, solemnity, respect.
And finally Liam Williams in the Independent:
It started as just one of a couple of dozen bugle calls played every day in a British Amy barracks - then, in the 1850s, it found a new role, played at soldiers' funerals. Alwyn Turner tells the untold story of The Last Post.
Whoever is responsible at the BBC for promoting programmes is clearly doing a fine job, and I'm very grateful.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Last Post - another plug

David Hepworth's preview of the week's radio in the Guardian rather wonderfully singles out my programme on the Last Post, which is broadcast next Wednesday:

My thanks to Mr Hepworth. And indeed to Tom Goulding, who I regret I didn't acknowledge when posting his piece from the Radio Times earlier in the week.

PS And here's a piece from the Daily Mail:

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Radio Times

A cutting from the new edition of the Radio Times, with a fine pick of programmes for next Wednesday, Armistice Day: