In early November there is an event which we never miss, the Lord Mayor’s Show. It’s a bit like Christmas; we do it for the kids, but really the adults enjoy it just as much, but for completely different reasons.
Our day always starts in the same way, with fantastic full English breakfast at Pickles on the South Bank. If you can find a better value full English in London I shall eat my hat! We then head across the wibbly wobbly bridge (a.k.a. Millennium Bridge) and set ourselves up on the run down from St Paul’s to Fleet Street.
We have always made camp at exactly the same spot every year so friends who know us will pop over to say hello.
After a coffee, and possibly a short blast on the hip flask, it is time for the parade. The Lord Mayor’s Show pageant is an eclectic mix of the military and business, all followed up with the grandees of the city. On Saturday 15th November 2015 the parade will celebrate the 800th year of the Lord Mayor of London.
In 1215 King John, keen to win the support of the City in his endless baronial feuds, allowed the Mayor of London to become one of the first elected offices in the modern world.
For hundreds of years, Lord Mayor of London was the grandest position that a commoner could dream of reaching, and the Mayor’s journey was the celebrity spectacle of its day. Over the centuries it grew so splendid and so popular that by the 16th century it was known everywhere as the Lord Mayor’s Show. It features in the plays of Shakespeare, the diaries of Pepys and the adventures of James Bond and of course in the pantomime story of Dick Whittington, who really was the Mayor of London three times. In the 20th century the Lord Mayor’s Show was the first outside event ever to be broadcast live and it still attracts a TV audience of millions.
The modern Lord Mayor’s procession is a direct descendant of that first journey to Westminster. The route and date have changed over the years but the pageantry of Hogarth and Canaletto can still be seen in its lively mixture of London’s past, present and future. The state coach is 350 years old, and the pikemen who guard it are almost as old as the Show. Today you will see the City’s businesses, Livery Companies, charities, Her Majesty’s Forces, the City Police and Londoners from all walks of life come together to enjoy a splendid celebration of the City’s ancient power and prosperity, just as they did in the middle ages.
This year I’m particularly looking forward to:
Float 11 – Worshipful Company of Lightmongers
Float 13 – Hamburger Morgensprache (I have no idea either! Watch this space)
Float 23 – Poetry in wood
Over the year we have seen some amazing sites, but none to beat a band, in full Dutch national costume (including clogs) all riding bikes while playing their instruments.
Ahead of the main event comes a group of alderman and senior big wigs all of whom will be guaranteed to have their hands in a finger puppet or two to amuse the kiddies. My favourite pastime on the day is watching out for the amazing faces as they pass by, you have to measure some of the complexions in pipes of port consumed.
At no. 145 in the procession comes the wonderful gold coach containing the new Lord Mayor. The coach is taken out of the Museum of London for this special day. He is followed by the Pikemen who are without any shadow of a doubt the coolest looking group you ever set your eyes on.
As the final clean up team sweeps by we generally head off to a nice warm pub for a pint of foaming with old friends before lunch and killing time until it’s time for the fireworks, which take place on a barge moored on the Thames outside the Oxo tower.
The Lord Mayor’s show is one of London’s best days out and I commend it to all of you. The website has all the details including the route of the parade: http://lordmayorsshow.london/day/