While I was in Bovington 1968-70, Bryan “Taffy” Helps became Trumpet Major and he asked me to join him in “The Lionel Bryant Sound,” playing professional bookings along the south coast in clubs, hotels and coastal venues. He helped me a lot and I began to understand dance-band music and all the different rhythms that involved. It certainly improved my timekeeping. The Regimental Band as a whole also played at schools and concerts along the coast. Our Band Master, WO1 Stanley Patch left us to go on to greater things at the end of 1968 and a new Band Master, Peter B Smith took over. My focus was not only on becoming a better percussionist but also on raising my level of qualifications in music. I now had to learn how to play the xylophone, glockenspiel, tubular bells and timpani, as such instruments were required if I was to make the grade in tuneful percussion. Learning these instruments meant I had to learn to read music properly. I found it much more gratifying and I was far more enthusiastic in applying myself to passing the next level of music exams than I had been when working on the armoured vehicles and tanks.
Being in Dorset helped my development as a footballer and an all-round athlete, because there was so much sport being played daily and weekly. It helped and motivated me to improve my music. I befriended the groundsman that looked after the garrison sports grounds as I was training on my own on the running track. Since the groundsman also had oversight of allotments streams and orchards, I benefitted from gifts of vegetables, trout and other fish, rabbits and poultry, especially at Christmas. This helped to support my family, which in 1968 had increased to three children when my son, Rafer was born. I really began pushing myself with this self-directed solo training. I went running with Colonel Bidie, a very fit man, and with Johnno Johnson and Terry Reddings, also very fit athletes. Besides this, I did all the group training with the football and other sports teams.
Colonel Bidie allowed me to pursue my ambition of becoming a creditable decathlete. When I asked him if I could enter the Combined Services Decathlon Championships, UK at Cosford, he agreed. I had no established coach, so it all came down to my previous knowledge and experience. Having asked me to give him a written note of what I needed to compete with, he obtained it within days. Now I had all the implements, it was up to me to produce the results with it. I practised alone, with or without my children or other band members to retrieve implements. No other army personnel had ever won the Combined Services Decathlon before. It was my goal to be the first. I felt confident as I had won the Surrey Open Decathlon Championships a few weeks earlier at Tooting Bec Track and I was sure I could improve on the score I had achieved then. I now included hurdles, high jump and pole vault practice in my daily and weekend training programme but never gave up any of my other sports (cricket, football, hockey and basketball).
At Cosford, I became the surprise winner of the Combined Services Decathlon Championships, breaking the previous record by one point. It shocked the RAF and the Navy competitors who had previously won all the Combined Services Decathlon Championships and had always been selected to represent Britain at International Games. I never was selected to represent the UK for any International but was ALWAYS selected for the area AAA and the Combined Services competitions. It was 1970 and the upcoming Commonwealth Games was set to be in Edinburgh. I was not selected for England, so I asked if I could compete in the decathlon for Guyana instead.
If you want to know how I managed to represent Guyana in the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh while still being a professional soldier in the British Army, and how I went on to achieve my ambitions in international sport and music around the globe, then click on the “follow” pop-up button at the bottom right hand corner of this page, and sign up, or follow me on my “Jane Joseph author” page on Facebook. Earlier parts of the story are also found on this website. If you want to find out what happened in my later life when I returned to help develop my birth country Guyana in South America, then order “The ElDorado Affair” by Jane Joseph ISBN 978-0-9932409-0-4 published by Sapodilla Press available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.co.uk, order it through Waterstones or your local book store via Nielsens teledata or read it in Kindle format ISBN 978-0-9932409-1-1 available worldwide on Amazon.com