Charlie Rolls – The Musical


Last night we went with friends to see a performance of Charlie Rolls, The Musical, written by Colin Tully.

It was performed mostly by his friends and neighbours, but a talented lot they were and a most enjoyable evening with real tunes that you could hum along to a sing! They were mostly of a music hall, English folk and Vaughn Williamsy flavour.

The Love theme was written by Colin’s Daughter, Ailsa, and very pretty it was too, especially sung by Claire Brewster, who has a lovely, smokey folky flavour to her voice that often reminded me of Eliza Carthy.

The setting was the main hall of the Rolls’ family Country House, The Hendre, which is now the Rolls Golf Club.

The Story was about Charlie Rolls of Rolls Royce fame. He was a bit of a daredevil, obsessed with speed, travel and engineering. He went from bicycling at Cambridge to ballooning to setting up the Rolls Royce Company to becoming the first pilot to fly across the channel twice nonstop, just beaten by Bleriot for the first crossing.

He was an all round good chap and just what Mr Cameron wants us all to be again. We had great fun singing along with the rousing parts, waving our union flags and feeling very patriotic! (Actually many people looked quite embarrassed. We don’t really do that sort of thing anymore!)

I felt a strange affinity for the man. When I was five, I became the only border at my school. The Head Teacher was a very gung-ho chap of the old school, who went by the name of Eddy Rosser-Rees. He had an ancient Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. I somehow mixed up Rolls Royce and Rosser-Rees in my childish mind, and thought he must be Mr Rolls Royce too!

The final scene was very moving. Mourners were preparing for Charlie’s funeral – he crashed his plane at the age of 32. The scene was made more poignant when werealised we were sitting in the same room that the mourners would have gathered in, all those years ago.

The ghost of older Charlie came towards the ghost of young Charlie, standing on a chair in the middle of the stage. Older Charlie placed his cap on the younger’s head and handed him a model of a Wright’s flying machine.

Young Charlie adopted the same pose as the statue that stands proudly outside Monmouth Town Hall where, just this week, Students protesting at university fee rises, held a demonstartion and got Charlie on The National News again.

Students protest under the watchful
eye of Charlie Rolls


I’m sure he would smiling from above. I don’t think he would have minded how he got his publicity.

Well done everyone involved. A Most entertaining night.