It was just before 1pm at work today. It was a bit quiet because everyone else was either eating or had gone out for some food or were in that ‘I just ate and now I’m digesting and looking at FaceBook’ mode.
Suddenly, I hear the faint sound of a bagpipe. “Is it just me or does anyone else hear bagpipes?” I asked. Not the most common question around these parts. Turns out I wasn’t mad; there was indeed a pipe and drum band around the back of the building. I went out to take a look.
Ahh a piping classic.
At some point in the past week or so I got into a discussion with someone about piping. Ah, now I remember. Someone was saying they once worked with a Canadian who tried to teach them how to do highland dancing. He asked me if such Celtic things were popular in Canada. In response I told him that the part I’m from even has a bagpiping and Celtic arts college it’s so popular.
I was having a look around on the internets today for any events of interest coming up and spotted something for this very evening. All Hallows by the Tower, the church by the Tower of London, was having its triennial ‘Battle with the Tower of London’. This is an extension of Beating the Bounds that happened earlier. It’s a rather old tradition where young and old folk walk the boundaries of each parish. Partly for ceremony and partly so everyone know just where the boundaries were.
So it sort of snowed in London today. Lots of big fluffly flakes being whooshed around a bit by the wind. T’was lovely. Shortly after it stopped snowing (and I had my hair cut) I went for an amble around Greenwich Park. There were loads of people of all ages out making snowmen, sledding down the hill and just generally having a lovely time of it.
I like tradition. So much so that I like keeping up a tradition that involves watching a tradition. Since I moved to England in 2007 I haven’t missed a Lord Mayor’s show. Despite it always being awful weather, I’m always there bright and early. And this year didn’t involve getting a train at some silly o’clock hour on a Saturday morning from Cambridge. No, it was a quick 15 minute jaunt on the train from home to Cannon Street for me this year. I could get used to this.
The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the oldest civic traditions still going, dating back to the early 16th century. The post of Lord Mayor of London goes even further back to 1189.
Without dredging through too much back story that you could read on Wikipedia, the parade carries the new Lord Mayor from the Guildhall, to Mansion House, then onto a blessing at St. Paul’s before going to the Royal Courts of Justice to swear loyalty to the crown. After that the whole procession makes its way along the Victoria Embankment and back to the Mansion House to drop off the newly interned Lord Mayor.
This year I got a spot right by the Mansion House, the Lord Mayor’s residence at the Bank junction. It’s a bit further away from the actual parade, but it gives a great view of the Lord Mayor’s coach as well as the City pikemen and musketeers meandering around waiting for their turn to accompany the coach once it sets off.
The coach surrounded by pikemen just before leaving Mansion House.
The Oresman in red. A traditional carry-over from when the procession was done on the river rather than the narrow crowded streets.
This year was the first time I had a look at the procession’s return journey. I got to the Embankment just in time to get a great look at the coaches leaving the Royal Courts of Justice.