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I love London

November 16, 2009

As a Londoner, I often forget to do ‘London’ things with the girls. I am so used to seeing the Houses of Parliament from the train when I’m off to buy deadly boring stuff like netball skirts that Pugin’s amazing building has all but lost its charm, while, on a clear day,  you can catch sight of the Gerkin on the school run – enough to make anyone a bit blase.

At the weekend, though, the magic went back into London living. I went to see the Lord Mayor’s Show for the very first time, with the girls.

The show is a throwback from medieval times, when the city’s tradesmen first got organised into guilds, and then would have a procession through the city once a year to show off to potential customers, rivals and each other. The Lord Mayor is not the same thing at all as the Mayor of London – Boris Johnson is a politically elected figure (unbelievably) whereas Nick Anstee, the current Lord Mayor, holds his post for only a year and has an apolitical role.

Our day out was all organised by a  lovely friend  who grew up in the heart of London’s Inns of Court, which are tucked away behind some of the busiest streets in the capital but which preserve the calm and quiet of the city as it was a hundred years ago.

My friend, who used to watch the parade every year as a child, told me the perfect spot to watch from, right opposite the Royal Courts of Justice at the top of the Strand, and we were all set to meet there at 11.30. We got there, astonishingly, bang on time – despite having to pass TopShop, Paperchase and Jigsaw on the way, no mean feat with a teenager and a tweenager in tow – and straight away the procession kicked off. But where was my friend? It turned out that she’d left fashionably late, and as a result was stuck on the wrong side of the road down a bit from the heart of the action!

‘Random’ is one of those words, like ‘innit’ or ‘whatever’, which is never far from teenage lips, and during the parade it was used heavily. To be fair, there did not seem any particular rhyme or reason why a giant inflatable rack of lamb should be prancing down Fleet Street, followed by a brigade? platoon? squadron? from the RAF, with a pirates’ ship close on their heels. But after a while, we stopped asking ourselves why, and just enjoyed the spectacle.

One of our favourite floats was this space prawn:

space prawn

As I am always threatening my girls with vegetables, I also appreciated this float:

peas

But the piece de resistance was definitely this beautiful Cinderella-style coach, which the Lord Mayor rocked up to the Courts of Justice in:

coach

The last time I saw a coach that beautiful was in Disneyworld, and it did belong to Cinderella – but I suspect it may have been made out of finely wrought plastic. This one definitely wasn’t.

Despite dire weather predictions of 70 mile an hour gales and torrential rain, we did  pretty well, lasting out most of the procession in drizzle and only ducking inside the Apostrophe cafe when it got really, really wet. The staff of the cafe were amazing – friendly and welcoming to the huge throngs, not batting an eyelid when people stood on the stools to get a better view of the doings outside, and maintaining their smiles during what must have been their busiest Saturday ever. And they made a great cappucino, too.

A lovely day out. And, of course, we spent many hours in TopShop, Paperchase and Jigsaw on the way back, so everyone was happy.

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  • Laura November 16, 2009 at 4:38 am

    That space prawn is well random like

    • Dulwich Divorcee November 16, 2009 at 7:18 am

      Innit? Absolutely no idea what it was in aid of but it was utterly gorgeous

  • Rosie Scribble November 16, 2009 at 4:46 am

    I do hope Boris was not dressed as Prince Charming. Great pictures, by the way.

    • Dulwich Divorcee November 16, 2009 at 7:19 am

      Tragically he wasn’t dressed as Prince Charming! I can’t think why not, he’d look fab in the breeches

  • suburbia November 16, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Love the space prawn!

    Really clear pics too.

    (I used to love Top Shop with my mum when she used to take me to London, sweet memories)

    • Dulwich Divorcee November 16, 2009 at 7:21 am

      Isn’t the space prawn lovely? I was worried the pics wouldn’t come out as there is no zoom on the iPhone, but they aren’t bad and there are some interesting back views of hairstyles too! Glad I brought back good memories. Top Shop is so chic these days, it used to be really daggy when I was a tweenager

  • TheMadHouse November 16, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Wow – great pictures, it is wonderful to see this, we live in the NE and having nothing like this anymore

    • Dulwich Divorcee November 16, 2009 at 7:22 am

      Glad you liked it, I should do more on London and the pics came out for once!

  • Brit In Bosnia November 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Oh, sometimes I just miss London. Even a London in the rain. London does ceremony really well. Looks like you had a great time. x

    • Dulwich Divorcee November 17, 2009 at 4:15 am

      London is definitely at her best when wearing a tiara! Somehow the rain just adds to that authentic London-ness too x

  • geekymummy November 16, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Ah the lord mayors coach, brings back memories. Our middle school managed to get school parties banned from the “London Transport Museum” after a partiuclarly naughty boy jumped the velvet ropes and climbed on top of it.

    • Dulwich Divorcee November 17, 2009 at 4:16 am

      What a brilliant memory! I hope he danced a little jig when he got on top of it. The kind of thing I was waaay too straight-laced to do – now I wish I had!

  • Shirl November 17, 2009 at 3:40 am

    I grew up in London and really didn’t appreciate the architecture, pomp and circumstance or the availability of such wonderful shopping. It wasn’t until I moved away that I begun to realise how much I took for granted. Fab piccies, definitely love the prawn: which is indeed “random” lol!

    • Dulwich Divorcee November 17, 2009 at 4:35 am

      I know, I think my eight years away in Brussels have helped me fall back in love with London. I adore that space prawn – I might just stick that picture in every time I use the word ‘random’ in a post – which, if it’s about my teenager, will be about 4,000 times!

  • Amy @ The Bitchin' Wives Club November 17, 2009 at 7:06 am

    That looks like something I should try to hit next year with my boys. They love space prawns, randomness, and parades!

    🙂

    • Dulwich Divorcee November 17, 2009 at 1:04 pm

      How old are your boys? There’s loads of military stuff like tanks, jeeps, guns, bayonnets, soldiers etc if they’re into that, it rather went over our heads though!

  • Jacqui November 23, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    When I moved to London 8 years ago I started work straight away, so I never really had a chance to do any sightseeing. The new English friends I made had no interest in touring the city they’d grown up in. I had to wait until some relatives came over from New Zealand, then I dragged them all over the city until they were near collapse. I didn’t even know the Lord Mayor’s Show existed until now!!! Now it’s firmly on my ‘To Do’ list.

  • Kim Maddock June 10, 2010 at 11:56 am

    omg okay so this is just how ridiculous I am, midway through reading through your post I dropped my computer mouse and shut down the window in error and I could not locate your web site once again until 6 days afterwards to finish reading where I left off mainly because I didn’t remember how I linked to your site in the first place lol anyway it was worth the wait..kudos 🙂