Good lord, it’s a lady! The Lord Mayor’s Show has come to its climax and the Concorde International students with me are confused. “Why isn’t she known as the Lady Mayoress?” they ask (quite rightly).
Because she’s only the second female mayor out of 686 in 800 years, I answer. I know that this response isn’t going to be good enough.... but I can see, by their faces, that they have thoroughly enjoyed the pomp and splendour of viewing the procession through the City of London.
Fiona Woolf’s arrival in the 350-year-old fairytale gilded State Coach at the pageant’s finale was greeted with cheers and endless photo flashes.
The whole reason for the procession is for the Lord Mayor to pledge his or her allegiance to the Crown. We were lucky enough to be standing almost opposite the Royal Courts of Justice where the Lord Mayor takes this oath. And what a perfect photo opportunity for our students, who could then pose in front of the golden coach.
Even though it had rained constantly that morning, the seven of us, standing with many, many thousands of spectators along the three-mile route between Bank and Aldwych, had had a fantastic day.
We were treated to numerous marching and mounted bands, pearly kings and queens, folk in fantastic fancy dress and representatives of the City’s 100-plus Livery Companies (medieval trade associations). And near the head of the procession were two wicker giants, Gog and Magog, the traditional guardians of the City of London.
More than 150 groups, from all over the world, including military bands, horse-drawn carriages, charity floats, a Victorian London Underground carriage, steam traction engines... and a camel called Therese, had delighted and enchanted us all. In total, the three-and-a-half-mile-long parade had involved more than 7,000 people, vehicles and animals.
Mohamed from Libya and Hanan from Bahrain were particularly taken by the camel although they were concerned that it might not be used to the British downpours.
Elena and Olesya from St Petersburg in Russia were quick to admire the Lord Mayor’s fine furs; Kim from Korea and Natsuko from Japan, however, were more impressed by the Guards’ bearskins. I was quick to explain the reason for the name of their headwear. Nothing to do with “bare skin”!
I was anxious that they shouldn’t be confused, the way that a group of infant school children once were, when their teacher declared that they were to do their PE lesson in “bare feet”. The little people all imagined that they would shortly be kitted out with tiny sets of furry “bear” paws.
Aah, the trials and tribulations of trying to speak and write in our wonderful but ever-confusing English language!