A previous Hertfordshire County Standard bearer, Mr Philip Cornish, died in May, 2008 after a long battle against cancer. These notes are entered here in his memory. Those of you lucky enough to have known him will recognise the tone and spirit in which they are written - he was ever one for improving Standard Bearing perfection whenever and wherever possible, usually with a wry smile.
So if you have a snippet which improves the way you carry your standard, don't keep it to yourself - let's get it here for us all to share. And if you have a problem concerning standard bearing, please share it. Someone might have the answer for you.
For those of you who are new to the sport (!) here's the Legion's guide to Standard bearing drill.
- Always remove the pinnacle before transporting (some don't unscrew, though!) to prevent it being bent in storage/transport.
- When packing away your standard after a parade, use a clean over-size cloth to protect it as you roll it around the top pole section. I have since leaned not to roll your standard - doing so creates bulges one side or the other. To make sure this doesn't happen, fold the standard back and forth. Place the bottom pole section next to the top, joint ends together, and slide all into its travel case. Keep as flat as possible - especially when storing it. So here are two ways of caring for your Standard.
- Your standard should not be stored in its travel case - take it out and hang it up (if you have somewhere suitable) so that it hangs freely in a dust free environment. The handbook recommends taking it off the pole and folding it so that it is the size of the Union Flag in the corner, and hanging it over a coat hanger in a wardrobe
- Philip used a self-made 'sock' to protect the lower pole section and I continue its use.
- If you do remove your pinnacle, you will need somewhere to keep it. Use the same container to keep the tassels - separated with a small plastic bag - and make sure both ends are of equal length (and equal with the bottom of the standard when assembled on the pole, and with the pole horizontal) when you refit them.
- For competitions, remove the standard and all brasses from the pole before cleaning - and don't forget to clean the screw heads (screw threads can be left alone!). Inspect the poles and, if scratched, now is your chance to re-varnish them. Don't try and 'touch up' scratches - sand down first then varnish the whole pole.
- The very best standard bearers wear only the regulation, RBL multi-motif tie, tied in a Windsor knot so that there is a single motif horizontally central on the knot. Once you know how it's done, it isn't so hard to do - and looks the business. I find the key to it is seeing where the join is when you start to tie your knot, and adjusting it if need be the next time. If you don't know how to tie a Windsor knot, and want to - go to this website (but don't forget to return!) www.linksandties.co.uk/TieKnot.aspx
- When parading a standard, only the Legion Standard bearer's badge is allowed to be displayed on your lapel. I wear mine so that it is centre of the lapel, aligned with the sling badge and vertical, but it may also be worn 'in line with the lapel'. If you're ex-service, you can also wear the Ex Service Badge; but for competition, leave it in your pocket. Anything else – including poppy, TLPA (The Last Post Association), RNA, etc (but Veteran’s, is OK now) are not regulation. But unless you'll be on the television, or in a competition, no-one will really mind.
- Depending on your physique, braces give a better line to your trousers than a belt alone can (I have braces, but they don't work for me).
- For competitions, always check your self in a mirror - and get someone to check you rear for any stray bits of tat, creases and anything else you won't be able to see.
- Tie your shoes with a double bow. You don't want them coming undone. And if they're the elasticated variety, good luck to you.
There is not much on the internet to help the old shoe buffer, but here are a few tips I have managed to clean (I mean, glean) along the way;
- Good old Kiwi, black shoe polish is the only one that 'cuts the mustard' for the traditionalist. Use cotton wool, in small, light circles and ordinary tap water say some.
- Stick with the Kiwi, but use spit instead of the water say others.
- Once a 'decent shine' is achieved, finish off with India ink instead of water is another idea.
- If you can't be bothered with the 'bull' and think (like me, I suppose) this is the 21st century then here are some alternatives;
- Polyurethane varnish. My personal favourite, as I used to apply a thin coat of this to my service issue BATA number 1 shoes immediately I was issued them. These then replaced my old number 1 shoes, which became my number 2s - which I had handed in because they were so worn out…
- I recently tried black nail varnish and, although it worked the once, I noticed it had started to peel before the event was over. So only in emergencies…
- For those of you with access to BMW car respraying facilities; BMW black car paint. But be aware - it needs to be baked in the oven at a constant high temperature (about 60 degrees?) for some time. So not something to try at home.
- A tip hot from 2009's Festival of Remembrance; printed circuit board lacquer. Apparently it lasts for ages, costs 'about £10 a can' and 'you just spray it on'. Yet to be tried by your editor at four counties towers, but he will keep you informed. Once he has found a supplier.
- For the perfect, competition-ready, top notch shiny shoe, follow the instructions received from our affiliated ATC Squadron - under the page "How to Spit and Polish" that is linked on the left.
- For competitions;
1a. Whenever your left arm is not in use, press your left thumb down by your side as though you were pressing a drawing pin into a piece of wood - this will help keep your arm close to your side, preventing light showing between your side and your arm. Especially on the About Turn.
1b. Take your time - separate all drill movements by the correct interval (think ONE - two, three - ONE - two, three, etc, executing the moves on the ONE).
1c. Slow March is 60 paces per minute - half the pace of Quick March. So if you are used to 'Left, right, left, right, left' etc, then for the Slow March you need to be thinking 'Left and right and left and right' with each word timed as before. Make sure that your feet glide forward, pointing the toes, placing each foot silently.
1d. At the beginning of the competition - before being put under the scrutiny of the judges - check that your standard's seam is positioned at the one o' clock position. This will ensure that it falls correctly during the dips, and for changing from the Slope to the Carry.
1e. Check you are Carrying the Standard vertically by checking your profile and front in a reflection before you start. If that is not possible, relax your grip. If the standard is pressing against any part of your right hand, index finger of thumb, it is not vertical. Re-tighten your grip and remember where the standard was in relation to your nose.
- 2a. When dipping the standard, if it is a little heavy for you, let it slip through your fingers a little after the second movement - that's when you take it from the socket to your shoulder - and before letting it fall gracefully to the floor in a sweeping, arc-like motion taking 20 seconds for dips Royal & Act of Homage. Practise all this before a parade - you don't want any surprises!
2b. If dipping your standard 'for wet and muddy conditions', remember it is OK to use both hands and the timing is 10 seconds. And, unless you wear your underpants outside your trousers, you will need to use both hands to hold it there for a full two minute silence after the 'Last Post'. As the standard reaches the horizontal, reach out with your left hand, grasp the mid point of your standard (usually where the brass ferrules are) and lock your left elbow into your front left side - though remember to keep the standard pointing forwards. This transfers the weight of the standard through your hip, allowing the rest of your body to adjust to balance the standard in this position. Again, practice makes perfect!
Always remember that carrying any Standard is an honour.