Dreams Can Come True at The War & Peace Revival



As a lot of those who keep track with our ‘Facebook’ page will know, I had a whale of a time at this years ‘War & Peace Revival’. Visiting what used to be Folkestone Racecourse and seeing the old place choc full of tents, tanks, military personnel and classic cars was rather a bitter sweet experience for me. Folkestone was a lovely racecourse and one where you could get a great view of the whole track from the stands. Little gets the blood rushing through my veins more than the sight of the horse I’ve backed moving sweetly in behind the leaders, its Jockey quite still in the saddle two furlongs from home, while every other horse in the race is under pressure. The scent of money pervading from a bookies old leather satchel has a sweet smell on a hot day I can tell you – especially when you are on at a decent price!

My addiction aside, I have to say that the old RAF Westenhanger (as the racecourse was known during the Second World War) is the perfect place to hold such a large gathering of men and machinery. The grandstand facilities are perfect for viewing what is going on and the restaurant provides an ideal place to take refreshment whilst keeping one eye on the action.

Previously known as ‘The War & Peace Show’ the event was held for many years at Hop Farm in Paddock Wood moving to Folkestone Racecourse last year. However successful things had been under the old format, Rex Cadman and his team felt it was time to revamp and refresh the show and so ‘The War & Peace Revival’ was born. They have done a fantastic job and one of the things that makes visiting the new show so easy to enjoy is the fact that it is so well organised.

With 2014 marking the centenary of the beginning of World War One, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two and the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the worlds largest military show was always going to be extra special this year – and so it proved.

Now, I know our Editor, Jim Hollands, is going to go into detail over the coming months about the ins and outs of the show and is going to spoil you rotten with plenty of great pictures of military machinery, vintage cars, the showground, the entertainers and its star performers. Bearing this in mind, I have decided instead to tell you the fantastic story of how an emotive and vivid dream I had two weeks before the event to my shock & surprise turned out to be more of a premonition!

Oh come on! I can hear you all saying! Pull the other one – dreams don’t really come true, do they? Well, read on and then see what you think!

First of all let me set the scene. For those of you who have never been to a ‘War & Peace’ event I should explain that many who attend the show each year choose to make a holiday out of it and camp out on site for the entire five days (or more). Because of this Folkestone racecourse becomes more of a ‘temporary Mecca for enthusiasts’ than just a venue and so long after closing time each night the music, dancing, entertainment and fair ground rides continue. In fact, the revival has its own ‘Barmy Army’ who party right through the night every night until the sun comes up again, according to legend!

It is this heady atmosphere of mutual interest, fun, friendship and sharing that makes a trip to the revival such a memorable experience – even if you are not particularly interested in warfare…

At the front of the main grandstand a little to the right are the main entertainment marquees and each year on the Saturday evening at about 7.30pm a ‘Gala Concert & Dinner’ is held. Featuring period entertainers, retro D.J’s and a dance competition for £25 a head you can relive the magical days of the 40’s and 50’s and dance the evening away under a mirrorball with ladies and gentlemen dressed for the occasion in period dresses/costumes and or military attire. It’s just like a scene from ‘Foyle’s War’ and quite incurably romantic!

While the food itself is described as ‘wartime rations’ (and you have to queue up for it ‘canteen style’) it tastes delicious and the Strawberry Tart and cream I had this year for sweet was heaven on a plate! D.J’s play swing, blues, jazz and other suitable styles of period music while you eat and then, once the plates are cleared away, its time for the stage entertainers to take over.

The concert this year by The John Miller Orchestra (John is the nephew of Glenn Miller) was always going to be a new experience for me as, love music as I do, I had never been to see an orchestra of any description play live before! Add to the fact that there was one hell of a thunderstorm (the sky even turned green at one point!) and driving rain going on outside as well and you can well imagine why the evening already had a surreal feel to it long before anything to do with my dream came into it…

So what of this dream? What was it about and how did it turn into a premonition?

Well, the dream I had involved a love interest (its o.k – you don’t need to look away!) and was a strange one in the respect that it was both incredibly real and had a powerful effect on an emotional level. In my dream I had died and was seeing things from ‘the other side’. I felt sad and was missing everyone here very much. I could communicate with and make a tiny amount of physical contact (fingertip to fingertip) with just one of my living friends, a guy by the name of Paul. Now, Paul does a lot of community work and is a social activist so it is kind of fitting in an odd way that it was him I could contact rather than a family member…

Anyway, I could talk to Paul and he was trying to help me all he could. My sense of loneliness was awful and being able to touch him and feel at least some human contact was incredibly comforting.

I then found myself meeting a few people on the other side. A group of four came up to me and I looked up and saw one famous person I recognised (but cannot recall now) and three I did not. These people then left me and another group of three black men appeared. One I instantly recognised as Oran “Juice” Jones (an 80’s soul/rap singer of whom I’m a fan). I looked up at him and smiled greeting him by clapping my hands together and saying something like ‘Ah, that’s the Juice!’. He seemed very grateful and smiled leaving me with a good feeling that I had helped him in some way by acknowledging his celebrity status.

The next phase of the dream is the part that concerns my story today. Suddenly, I had a girlfriend! I could not see her face but she had short hair, was wearing a pink coloured silk negligee and long earrings. I longed to hold her close to me but I could not touch her only run my hands down the outside of the negligee and feel a kind of ‘energy outline’ of her body. She smelt fantastic as well and my yearning to hold her was almost unbearable. We asked someone there if it was possible for me to pull her close? The answer was that it was but that I could only do so once and should I make physical contact with her I would lose all contact with Paul and anything to do with this world forever.

Suddenly, I was floating with this girl, my hands hovering over her shoulders at arms length, and we began floating through walls together. We were only moving slowly so as we entered each room I could see what was going on there and I recall some Rock N’ Roll boys with leather jackets and James Dean haircuts sitting around a jukebox. This went on for a while until I suddenly became quite scared. I began to wonder whether this action of floating together was my girlfriend luring me away from everyone here. My love for her aside, I decided I could not pay the huge price of losing all contact with everyone on earth to be with her and so I started to fight to break away. Eventually, we stopped floating mid-wall and it was at this point, with my girl on the other side of the wall between us, that I broke away and began to return the way we had come. As I traveled back the people inside the rooms began to attack me but I was invincible and soon dealt with them…

It was exactly 4AM in the morning when I awoke with a start and I immediately grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down as much detail about the dream as I could – even posting a comment on ‘Oran ‘Juice’ Jones Facebook page (in case a kind word of encouragement was what he was needing right now!).

Back to this years ‘War & Peace Revival Gala Dinner & Concert’…

So, there I was sitting with Jim and his lady, Dace, at a table literally on the edge of the dance floor. John Miller and his Orchestra were playing a cracking set of vocal and instrumental songs. As the band played ‘All Of Me’ thoughts of Marilyn Monroe (I’m a huge fan – it was her favourite song) were swirling around my head and helping to take my mind off the drips of water occasionally landing on my back due to a tiny leak in the roof. An unusual situation yes, but no more – until she walked in! Suddenly, about two thirds of the way through the night I spotted a woman walking towards us. She was gorgeous but I found myself drawn to her more because she had short black hair, long silver earrings on AND was wearing a shimmering mauve and gold 40’s style top with a PINK sash around her waist!

Tony & Helen

Now, Gooseberries and I have a LONG history! I am about as shy as it gets and the amount of times I have ended up as the ‘Gooseberry’ when out with mates who have ‘pulled’ is obscene! As usual, the more I wanted to speak to this girl, the less I could actually say. She was, however, quite obviously without a partner and started dancing alone right in front of where I sat. With seemingly the rest of the room (including the lovely, Vicki Michelle of ‘Allo, Allo’, who was present) jumping out of their seats and simultaneously shouting at me to ‘get in there!’ I was rooted to the spot and speechless (some would pay HUGE amounts to anyone who could replicate this effect on me on a regular basis!). Thankfully, Jim’s good lady, Dace, decided to ‘crowbar’ things somewhat and to my delight (and HORROR!) took it upon herself to approach the girl on my behalf! Before I knew it, I was dancing with my dream lady and had found out that her name was ‘Helen’.

As ever, when you get two shy people together, things were rather awkward but Helen seemed to like me right off! To a honourary member of the ‘Gooseberry Appreciation Society’, like me, that seemed weird and I felt so lucky to be dancing with someone so beautiful. That Helen had seemed interested in me from the beginning made me wonder if she had been drawn to me in the same way I had to her? I couldn’t ask her of course – I mean not only does it sound rather mad to suddenly come out with ‘are you the girl in my dream last night’ but that line must also be one of the oldest (and cheesiest) chat up lines of all! Tragically, at the end of a wonderful evening I was STILL unable to ask her for her number. So, sadly, she went her way and I, head spinning like a top having just been kissed, went mine. I did tell her about my Youtube channel (maybrick44) in the hope she might watch a few of videos and leave a comment but so far this has not happened…

Whatever, I shall never forget my dream girl, the strange weather or the magic of the John Miller Orchestra. Dreams really can come true you know and when you visit an event as special as ‘The War & Peace Revival’ not only are you transported back in time to a more romantic era you get to see, feel and hear first hand what life in the 1940’s must have been like.

“Thank you for being my Marilyn Monroe tonight” was the last thing I said to Helen as we parted, which, is kind of funny now because, writing this, I can almost hear Marilyn singing ‘Bye, Bye, Baby’ in my ear…

John Miller Orchestra
John Miller Orchestra

From the September 2014 issue of Hythe & Romney Life

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