Its been a busy few weeks for members of the band that have found themselves traipsing over East London and beyond spreading good cheer and festive tunes to the residents of our nation’s capital! A week after our Barking Concert , a ten-piece ensemble made its way to Forest Gate to play in a concert organised through our star 2nd horn and resident barmaid, Michelle , on 10th December. In true becontree tradition there were more people in the ensemble than there were in the crowd. It was their loss...! The band featured such brass band masterpieces as 'Kalinka' and 'Instant Concert' (how the Music Panel have not thought about using that as a test piece I do not know!lol) A mere few days ( 12th December ) later saw a composite group of players from Becontree and Hadleigh Temple SA journey to the salubrious environs of the East India Dock Road to present a concert to the residents of the Queen Victoria Seaman’s Rest home , run by our flugel playing Scotsman , Alex . The psychological scars of seeing him in a kilt will haunt me for the rest of my days !! A band of 12 or so rattled through some Christmas classics including Noel Jones’ "Christmas Praise " , Les Condon’s "Manger scene" and Peter Graham’s "Silent night " , ably essayed once more by Chris . The large audience were also given the chance to sing along to favourite carols , and Alex made his debut as a choral conductor leading the QVSR choir in some unique performances ! This was an enjoyable evening , with something very poignant about playing these Christmas tunes to an audience of perhaps marginalised people in the shadow of the monument to rapacious capitalism and state-sponsored corporate greed that is Canary Wharf . Sunday 17th , and six of us ambled over to Chadwell Heath park . Initial signs were not good as it looked like we would be playing to the proverbial two old ladies and a dog , but with the appearance of Father Christmas , a clown and the Mayor of Barking and Dagenham a sizeable crowd soon appeared and joined in the singing . Although still unseasonably warm at the start of the job , it was turning a little nippy by the end , and we hardy players were glad of the mulled wine on offer . Yours truly was still in revolutionary mood after the previous Tuesday , and managed to sneak a rendition of "The Red Flag" in at the end under the guise of "O Christmas Tree"!! The organisers were grateful to have us there , and it looks like this could become a regular fixture . It was good again to be connecting with the grass-roots community from which we draw our name. And so to our last job of the season , 20th December and an early 17:00 start in Trafalgar Square to accompany choir singing under the Christmas tree . Another six piece for this one , including Ian from Ipswich & Norwich Coop Band and some ropy horn player we borrowed from one of the small bands up the road in Redbridge!! (Sorry, bruv!) .Its fair to say that this was one that tested the stamina – 18 carols on the programme , with all verses !! I reckon my lip will be back for the areas , in 2008 !! Travelling into central town at that time of night was always a big ask , but if this job is on the lists again next year I would encourage as many as possible to get along as we were playing to the largest crowd that I have ever seen since joining the band – the north side of the square was packed and many more were stood on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery . We will be featured in the photos of many hundreds of tourists , and if this job occurs again it would be a great publicity opportunity for us ! So that’s the Christmas season over for Becontree – a happy Christmas to all our readers! P.A-H.