Saturday, 8 November 2008

Pomp and circumstance

I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for a parade. So despite the intermittent rain and forgetting to bring an umbrella, I still made my way down to the City for the Lord Mayor's Show.

The Lord Mayor isn't the political leader of all of London (that's the mayor of Greater London, Boris) but historically of the City of London that roughly equates to the boundaries of the ancient Roman city. Today this "Square Mile" is also synonymous with financial services and business interests, so the Lord Mayor acts primarily as their advocate in a largely ceremonial role.

A new Lord Mayor is elected each year, and to celebrate his appointment a massive procession winds from the Guildhall through the City to the Royal Courts of Justice—where the Lord Mayor swears allegiance the Queen—before returning to the Guildhall just before fireworks are launched over the River Thames.

In addition to the usual parade fare of scouts, charities, old cars and the requisite cheerleaders, there were also trade guilds, ward clubs, livery companies (dressed in a wide range of outfits reminiscent of academic robes or period costumes), military regiments, effigies of Gog and Magog, what seemed like every marching band (sporting about every kind of hat imaginable) in the South East—including one band on horseback—and many more, with the Lord Mayor himself bringing up the rear. The length of the procession was about twice as long as the route itself.

Even with the rain and lack of candy (although I was given a sausage on a stick), it was a great afternoon. Next time, though, I'll bring an umbrella.

No comments: