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Charities Supper 18 Jan 2018:  Skinners' Hall
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Then it began... The cheering. The waving. The noise. The fun. Hundreds and hundreds of people of all ages and nationalities lining the route ahead for the next 3 hours...

Management Consultants turn out with the Sea Cadets, to honour the 690th Lord Mayor....

 

I’d heard it always rains on the Lord Mayor’s Show day, so I looked out through the rain splattered windows of the 7.53 to Marylebone on 11/11/17, heading for the City and wondering why, exactly, I was on this train on a soggy Saturday morning just to get wet, bedraggled and cold.

Well, because as a new member of the Company a friend gave me some very good advice - “Get involved, and have fun”, and as I’ve never been to the Lord Mayor’s Show before, and have a lot to learn about the Company’s traditions, in the spirit of ‘there’s only one way to find out’, I got involved.

So I signed up to be part of the Company’s ‘crew’ for the day, received from the Master a warm welcome on board, and instructions for what to do, where to be, and what to wear, which I settled down to read on Friday evening before the Show.

The instructions were very clear about when and where to meet, and what time lunch would be, and - as we were to march with the London-based Sea Cadets - how to keep up and do exactly what the Cadet officers or red-armbanded Event Marshalls tell us, but the ‘what to wear’ section caused mild concern...

  • Wear smart business attire. Check. Got out smart business attire from the wardrobe.
  • Wear sturdy shoes. Check. Got those out. Can do that.
  • Wrap up warm”.  Check. I can do ‘warm’. I selected layers to add as recommended. Two long sleeved cardigan things to go under the smart business attire coat should do it. And a scarf. And a neck warmer. And gloves. And socks, two pairs. One pair thin, and one pair a bit woolier.
  • There is no wet weather provision. Check. Hang on. Smart, business attire coat not waterproof...
  • Wear a smart hat - I will have some available. A hat? What kind of hat? I only have a bobble hat, or a fascinator that once bought couldn’t bear to wear, ever. Can’t imagine either of those is right. How will the Master know what kind of hat I wear…?  Where am I going to get one of those on a Friday night?
  • I will have spare capes”. Good. What? CAPES? What kind of capes…? Batman cape? Nurses cape?
  • “You can buy or rent a Worshipful Company brolly on the day” OK. This I understand.

One thing I have learned so far is that when in doubt, ask The Clerk!   So hasty late night email to the Clerk sent, asking for some help with coat choices….

Early next morning a happy reply - a dark coloured raincoat will be fine - so I swap the business attire coat for long navy raincoat, with additional winter lining. Pin on poppy. Good to go.

At the ‘Muster Station’ by 9am - the Master & Mistress’ home near the Barbican, and a truly welcoming sight met the dozen or so who mustered. “Join us for breakfast” meant sharing introductions and chatter with a distinguished group of Company Past Masters, Liverymen, Wardens, the Beadle, the Clerk, Mark Fox the photographer and some family members - over a breakfast feast prepared by The MIstress. In the hallway several long green garment bags were hanging, protecting a selection of the Company’s formal gowns. Here and there, a top hat or a bowler (aha!), and on the window-sill, its silver glinting in the emerging sunlight and waiting patiently, the Mace.

By 10 the Clerk declared it was time for everyone to robe and go and eventually everyone was attired and looking splendid and gone, heading for the London Wall muster point ready for the 5 mile march.

We lined up near huge military vehicles, vintage AA vans, a couple of marching bands, some horses, six butchers holding down a giant inflatable pork chop (I think… I’ve been vegetarian for decades so no idea what it was really…), and most importantly the Junior Sea Cadets. Photos were taken by Mark, and then with nothing more to do but wait for 11am and the 2 minutes’ silence, the Master approached with a large carrier bag.  “I wonder if you could wear this to save me having to carry it round the parade?”

‘This’ was a spare gown, brought for someone due to meet us at this point but who hadn’t yet arrived. Seeing the Master’s dilemma I agreed to wear the gown. It was thick, heavy, red and just the job on a cold winter’s day, Also in the bag was a smaller round thing - a red velvet bonnet. I looked at it blankly.

“You wave it.”  Oh yes. And at 11.02 precisely the parade moved off in a stately manner heading for Mansion House and beyond. 

Then it began.

The cheering. The waving. The noise. The fun. Hundreds and hundreds of people of all ages and nationalities lining the route ahead for the next three hours. Through Poultry and past the Bank the crowd waved. We waved back. The Beadle called on groups of children he passed to “Say Hurrah!” They said “Hurrah!” and laughed and smiled back. The church bells of the City rang out - echoing around the narrow streets - an incredible sound.

The top hats and bowler hats were regularly doffed to other Livery Company members in the crowd. Small children got to ‘hi-five’ the silver hand on the mace. Bigger children got to ‘hi-five’ the First Warden and the Almoner. We were on the telly and starring in hundreds of videos and mobile phone photos. Tricky bit though, approaching the Mansion House. To greet the 690th Lord Mayor of London, Charles Bowman, a manoeuvre was required to open and twirl the Worshipful Company logo’d golf umbrellas clockwise and in unison. Needed some rehearsal on my part,  but nobody seemed to mind…

All was going to plan until about an hour in, when what with all the waving and ‘hurrah-ing’ and following the Master who was setting a brisk pace I remarked to my marching neighbour at that time that I was starting to feel a bit toasty. Warm. Roasting hot actually....

I don’t think anyone noticed I was turning the same colour as the gown, but I pressed on in increasing hope that the lunch stop would come soon, and I could remove some layers.

With great relief and some curiosity, when we reached the Strand and the Royal Courts of Justice the more experienced amongst the marchers muttered “peel off!” and we did so - leaving the marchers to turn left and head for The George Public House - the perfect vantage point with a first floor private dining room directly opposite the spot where the Lord Mayor’s gold coach would soon arrive. Not for us the lunch station sandwiches for the 6000 marchers, but to an excellent lunch organised with great care by Elizabeth Consalvi, and where The MIstress and more Company members were waiting.

I made it up the stairs and at last was able to remove the robe, the long raincoat with winter lining, the scarf, the neck warmer, the gloves and one cardigan - announcing to anyone who would listen that I thought I had just lost five pounds in weight… before introducing myself to the soup and sandwiches and chips and dry Pinot Gris to rectify the situation.

It set us up beautifully for the return march after lunch - with even more smiling faces and waving crowds. London was a happy place.

So, to those who are also new to the Company I would say just three things:

  1. No, it doesn’t always rain for the Lord Mayor’s Show
  2. Yes, you will have great fun, so do get involved;  and
  3. Maybe - a good idea is always think twice about layers.

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of the greatest show.       https://youtu.be/8XtVGHv78Nw  or

  https://youtu.be/6KZGSPgTWuE    Just watch the Sea Cadets and get ready for the end! You’ll find some familiar faces.

 

 

 

 

 

Collette Stone, Freeman