Sussex by the Sea (continued)
A Walk Down the Adur Valley With S P B Mais
(An extract from a BBC Radio broadcast of 28 October, 1938)
Pages 1 and 2
I've been to France and I've been to Dover,
O-ver, o-ver, o-ver and o-ver.
Drink up your liquor and turn the horn over.
That's an old Sussex Drinking song. A horn full of drink was handed to you on your hat, and without touching it with your hands you emptied the horn, and tossed it in the air before the song finished. If you didn't, you had to try again. Do you remember that, Mr. Standing? I ought to tell you that Mr. Laddie Standing, who is 81, is better known in Steyning than St. Cuthman.
No, I don't know as I've heard that song before, and I've got a very good memory, as well as knowing a bit about music. When I was in my early teens one or two of us chaps used to "muck about" with cornets, then the lads of the village thought it would be all right if we got together and formed a band. I was the first to give my name in, and the Steyning Band we'd formed met for practice at Beeding!
Anyhow, we stuck to it, and after a lot of practising we got our first engagement, - we were to play at Ashurst Club Feast. That was in 1879. I remember we assembled at the "Fountain" Pub, and then marched down Golden Lane to the field where the "do" was going to be held. Half-way down the lane, Bandmaster Green, who we used to call "Major", told us to stop as he thought there was something wrong, and there was too, - half the band were playing "Golden Lock of Hair" and the other half were playing "Dear Little Jessie". Anyhow, we sorted ourselves out, and finished the rest of the day in grand style. I remember it was a regular smart turn out, with most of the men dressed in their Sunday best, which at that time were smocks and half-high hats.
I was the first to join that band. All the rest are dead, but I'm still a playing member.
What do you play, Mr. Standing?
I started on the cornet. Now I'm playing the Tenor Sax, but I want to get on to the French Horn eventually. Of course, I'm still a member of Steyning Church Choir, and have been for sixty years.
You've seen a lot happen in Steyning.
I have. I remember coming up Church Street one day in the Nineties, with a barrow load of grass. I saw old Mr. Cripps flitting about Osborn House, which used to be the Registry Office, and, of course, I knew something was on. So I stopped and asked and just then a cab pulled up and out got Mr. Parnell and Mrs. O'Shea, just going in to be married.
Page 1 - the sculpture of St Cuthman opposite St Andrew's Church, Steyning.
Page 2 - an 1870's shepherd on display at Steyning Museum (wearing his smock and half-high hat as described by Laddie Standing).
A transcript of the full radio programme is available to read at Steyning Museum.
See an article about S.P.B. Mais in The Times newspaper.
S.P.B. Mais has a dedicated page on Wikipedia.