Sunday, April 14, 2024

Lead-up to the service

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IT?WAS?not the real thing.
 But the almost three hundred people representing the military and police forces stuck to their routine when they converged at Downes & Wilson Funeral Home in  Eagle Hall, St Michael, yesterday for a dry run for the funeral of Prime Minister David Thompson, who died October 23.
The weather was kind, with the sun shining brightly. It signalled a day of heat gratefully welcomed after Barbados was drenched by the fierce rains of Tropical Storm Tomas two days earlier.
The rehearsal for the funeral started to take shape as five Transport Board buses pulled up alongside the funeral home with soldiers of the Barbados Defence Force.  Later, a coach with members of the participating members of the Royal Barbados Force Band joined their other colleagues on site for the rehearsal that started north of the funeral home.
10:14 a.m. As the casket, draped with a flag emblazoned with the words “Barbados Defence Force”, was borne to the hearse, the warrant officer in charge of the bearer party reverently intoned his orders: “Inside”, “Outside”; “Still” ; “Turning left”; “Slow march”, etc.
 “You get these things when you are a top man”, an onlooker, in a clear reference to the late Prime Minister, remarked, seemingly impressed with the military precision of the moment.
“The Prime Minister was a good person,” another chimed as if in support of his colleague.
10:27 a.m. The vehicles of the four police outriders and the sweeper, who would lead the way, roared to life.
 The procession was on.
The occasion was made even more sombre as the strains of Handel’s Dead March – Saul transformed the bustling Eagle Hall junction into an area of solemnity and reflection.
The boys on block, earlier milling around with seeming nonchalance, now carried puzzled countenances as if not sure how to react. And the nornmally aggressive traffic on President Kennedy Drive now stood still, the drivers apparently humbled by the occasion.
As the procession continued onto Barbarees Hill, it was at times difficult to manoeuvre through the area, a hint perhaps that there will be a crush when the real thing happens and as spectators try to capture the moment for posterity.
As the music of the brass and woodwinds faded, the soldiers depended on the slow and quick time of the drums to maintain the rhythm of their movement.
The procession reached Kensington Oval on time, perhaps even a bit ahead of the 11:13 a.m. scheduled arrival.
After the rehearsal of the service, the activity shifted to St John Parish Church, where preparations continued in earnest for the Wednesday’s ceremony.

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