OPINION: About Sir Francis' drum...

EVERYBODY who trundles down a lawn bowl has heard of Sir Francis Drake - the bloke who knocked off his game for a while to belt the bejabbers out of the Spanish armada.

But have they heard the scary story about his drum?

Frank didn't belong to a pop group but he had this drum that he beat when he wasn't beating Spaniards.

In 1596 he was about to turn up his toes on his ship off the West Indies when the thought crossed his mind - who'd be giving that mob of foreigners a hiding when he was gone?

"I know," he told himself with just about his last gasp. "I'll send the drum home and whenever me Pommy mates are in trouble the drum will be beaten, thereby telling them I'm there, right behind them."

This could mean the drum was in for a heck of a workout when they played cricket against Australia.

Frank carked it and his wishes were carried out - the drum went home to Plymouth, England, where it still hangs in his shack there, Buckland Abbey. And it's said that whenever the Poms are in trouble the drum gives out ghostly ratatatats without human help.

Victory has had its musical recognition, too. When Napoleon met his Waterloo, no big band was there - just a few mystical drum rolls when there was no drum to be seen.

For years the drum was quiet (which must have pleased the neighbours no end). It came to life again in 1914 when the Poms were in deep trouble in the first Big Stoush.

When the war ended in 1918 and the German fleet steamed into Scapa Flow to surrender, the men on the Pom flagship Royal Oak heard a drum. The skipper wasn't having unauthorised music on his ship - he turned it upside down but no drum, no drummer, not even a guitar player was found. They dropped anchor to sign the surrender and the drum stopped.

Another war and in the midst of the Dunkirk evacuation what do you think they heard? Yep, a drum.

It's still around. A skip told me the other day, "I'll give you the drum - you have to get your bowl close to the kitty."



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