My partner introduced me to the melodic tunes of Belle & Sebastian. I had a couple of their tracks before I met her, but once their sound became a regular feature of our home I found myself liking them more and more. So much so that the first concert I went to in twenty years was their gig in Westminster in late 2015.
Then came this. A chance to see them at an outdoor festival in the heart of London. Takako organised it all, so it wasn’t until we rocked up at the gate that I realised we were at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the famed Chelsea Pensioners.
It was an exceptional experience. Not only because of the music and the energy of the somewhat small crowd, but also because of the history. Over 300 years of caring for veterans was around us as we danced and sang along, with pensioners watching from windows and a couple sat in the crowd in their distinctive red uniforms. It’s worth remembering that each person wearing it was a serving soldier and many have seen the horrors of war. Rather than spend their advanced years alone, pensioners choose to rejoin the disciplined life of the Hospital and rediscover that special camaraderie that exists between soldiers.
As the sun set slowly behind them, the stage took on ever shifting forms until finally it was in full darkness and the light show was allowed to shine, watched over by the clock tower. Then everyone wound their weary way home, us to the Tube, the Pensioners to their beds.
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