What could be better than a stroll in the warm, autumn sunshine, through the heart of the City, with no cars to bother you, because, thoughtfully, all the roads have been closed to traffic, just to preserve your peace of mind? Indeed, why not march down the centre of the road, and get a once-in-a-lifetime view of the striking buildings on either side? Add in the crowds, who are standing four deep next to the road and cheering you on, and your stately progress verges on the royal!
This is what Freeman, Jana Skirnewskaja, Liveryman, Mike Belton and I were lucky enough to experience when we represented our Livery in the procession at the Lord Mayor’s show on November’s second Saturday. Jana, who is advancing our understanding of virtual reality at Cambridge, gamely carried our placard throughout the route. Mike, now back in the UK after a career spent in the USA and Switzerland, gave her some temporary respite by picking up the Company colours when, halfway through, we boarded HQS Wellington, which is moored on the north bank of the Thames, and which the Honourable Company of Master Mariners had kindly set aside for our lunch. I must declare, too, my contribution to sharing the load: I wore the Company’s Tudor bonnet proudly throughout our perambulation – well, being Master has to confer some privileges!
We were joined on our march by 6,500 people, divided into 150 groups and floats, as well as 200 horses, all taking part in the three mile-long procession that marked the Lord Mayor’s first full day in office. We waved to the crowds as we passed, and high-fived the children. I doffed my hat more than once, including to the outgoing Lord Mayor and his entourage, who were observing the march past on specially erected staging outside Mansion House. Our route took us past the Bank of England to St. Paul’s and then along Fleet Street to the Royal Courts of Justice, before we dropped down to Embankment and eventually returned via Victoria Street. Guardsmen marched and bands played. It was a joyous, sun blessed occasion.
We eventually returned to our starting point at the Museum of London, where, bit by bit, the parade stood down. Jana, Mike and I walked past St Paul’s for the second time and over the Millennium Bridge, paying our respects to the WCSIM-donated Millennium Measure landmark along the way. We arrived back at Glaziers’ Hall at three o’clock and we handed our robes to our Clerk, Misha Hebel, from whom we had picked them up six hours before.
What a day! As Jana said, a wonderful, memorable experience.
Professor Philip Thomas
Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers