There is a lot of information on the Web, including a list of old hands who may wish to see the spirit of Comex and The Green Pennant Awards carried forward into the New Year hence this message. Comex 2000 is not an impossible dream!
Invigorated by a regimental reunion in Nepal, attended by 1000 members (half Comex 2000!), my old friend, John Ridge, who celebrated the New Year with my former orderly Purnaram Gurung (both appear in JOL), returned via Delhi to call on Kamal Kant Sharma. John reports that events in Kandahar have raised tensions in the subcontinent to the point of causing even the irrepressible Punditji to roll his head in doubt about the future of the Commonwealth. And his is not the only head!
As it happened, Marquis had just sent us the website for the Queen's Christmas Message. We had of course listened to the broadcast a particularly good one but reading and rereading the text, essential bits catch the eye, and the piece that sticks in my mind is: Winston Churchill, my first Prime Minister, once said: "the further back you look, the further forward you can see".
The 700 slides Alan Waters sent us, beautifully arranged in a CD-ROM as a present for the millennium, reinforces that view. One of the first pictures to emerge was my old Vanguard Estate car DU9555 in 1962 on the road north from Bangalore to a meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, passing a bullock-cart starting out from its ancestral home on its own adventurous journey.
Alan has sent a copy of the CD to Stephen Stewart who in turn sent him a copy of his video of the Comex 3 film. Alan, you may remember, put together an excellent audio-visual presentation of Comex in Zambia. Meanwhile, Chris Brown-Syed is following up the possible production of the Queen's Jubilee Comex 8 film in Canada, and about the inaugural tape he writes: I now have the means to convert it to Real/Audio and to mount the whole thing on a Web page. I also think we should mount a cut from it on one of the free music databases. I'd suggest Baba Noma and Little Green Flags.
So far, I have posted about 80 copies of the tape to Australia, Canada, India, Singapore and the Holy Land, plus a few to old friends here. Prince Philip was pleased to receive a copy and sent his best wishes for the New Year.
You may be interested to read what another old friend, Alastair Rose, a distinguished Gurkha Officer well known in the piping fraternity of Scotland, thought of the tape: Thank you so much for sending me a copy of the Green Pennant Awards tape. I feel very privileged to have received it, and am much enjoying listening to it as I write this letter. The music and songs are delightful and sound so clear as does the piping, particularly Gregory's Frolic. Was the piper the late Angus MacDonald whose Memorial Service I went to last month in Glasgow Cathedral, or a Queen's Gurkha Signals piper? Elizabeth and I will treasure the cassette as a valued souvenir of Comex. Please let me know if I can help in any way with Comex 2000, particularly provision of pipers and Highland/Scottish Dancers. (The piper was the late Angus MacDonald).
I said in my last letter that it was not possible to send a cassette to everyone who has played some part in Comex, but a start has to be made somewhere. Well, the start has been made! A friend contributed the inserts. Others helped with the editing and production. More copies can be ordered in batches of 100. If each one of us were to send say ten cassettes (with a personal note) to an individual in any of those countries to deploy in restoring a few old friendships eroded by time and neglect, the spirit of Comex would certainly be helping to keep the Commonwealth ideal of the brotherhood of man shining brightly like the beam from a lighthouse on a stormy night (I love that metaphor!) during the year 2000.
Given enough copies, Kamaljit Singh Garewal (who features in the recording as the first Indian to receive a Green Pennant Award) could send them to all the recipients of Green Pennants in India, and to other traditional supporters of whom there are so many. A copy to Air India, for example, who carried Comex 1 home after the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 in the Kanchenjunga (flying the Green Pennant as it happened), asking them to play the Commonwealth Raga on all their flights in recognition of that historic association, might attract a favourable response.
The Comex websites (valinor.purdy.wayne.edu/comex and www.comex.org.uk) could be included in the insert so that recipients could catch up with the Comex 2000 proposal which mentions the tape in the publicity paragraph. In the event that no one is interested, and nothing happens on the ground, families and friends will at least be able not only to read, but also to hear what HRH had to say about Comex; what Sir Dennis Hamilton, Chairman of Times Newspapers, had to say, and what Sir David Hunt, who was not only a distinguished diplomat, but one time mastermind of mastermind as well as Chairman of the Board of governors of the Commonwealth Institute, had to say. Many old hands may even find themselves inspired to make their own sentimental journeys to India around Diwali 2000. Kenaki?
Greg - January 2000
Lionel Gregory may be contacted at 1 Lennox Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH4 1QB or by e-mail.
Comex Home Page
22nd January 2000.