Guy Fawkes tried to kill 'em all, but failed. We blow stuff up in honour of that failure. The Lord Mayor throws a party, which includes a parade and more stuff blowin' up. Lots of stuff blowin' up recently here...
05.11.2008 - 08.11.2008 11 °C
Late October and early November must be a great time to be a kid in London.
First you have the sugar-high fun of Hallowe’en, dressing up like a goblin or witch and getting complete strangers to feed your sugar habit. Lucky little sods. You don’t see me going around knocking on stranger’s doors asking for beer.
Then you get November the 5th. Remember, remember...
Guy Fawkes was a member of a group of Roman Catholic revolutionaries who plotted to kill the King of England, his family and the Protestant parliament in the early 1600s. The plan was to fill up a cellar under the House of Lords and ignite it, blowing up the Parliament buildings. The plot failed, ultimately because the opening of parliament kept getting postponed. While today we mostly curse politicians for being lazy and having seemingly endless holidays from legislating, in this case it saved all their lives, so perhaps there is some Darwinist logic to politicians seeming laziness.
Guy Fawkes was found guarding 36 Barrels of gunpowder in the cellar on the 5th of November, 1605, saving the king and Parliament. To celebrate this, English people light big fires and let of fireworks on the fifth of November. The night is known as Guy Fawkes night, Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night. It strikes me as somewhat strange that the spoiling of a plot to blow up a building should be celebrated with explosions and fire, but it is.
For his part in the plot Fawkes was executed, along with his co-conspirators in the gunpowder plot.
November 5th fell on a Wednesday this year, so many bonfires and fireworks were pushed to either weekend. Additionally, private folks have been loading up on fireworks, and displays of fireworks have been running all week in the parks and other open areas.
So now the kids are juiced up on sugar from Hallowe’en and filled with adrenaline from the fireworks all week. To top it all off, the annual Lord Mayor’s Show happened on Saturday, with a parade, carnival and more fireworks!
Now, stick with me here for a second, because this will take some explaining. I live in London, but I don’t live in the City of London. The City of London is a small area in Greater London, one of 2 cities, 2 Royal boroughs and 29 boroughs. The Mayor of London is Boris Johnson, who is the mayor of Greater London (all 2 cities, 2 Royal boroughs and 29 regular, old boroughs). The Mayor of London is an elected position with impressive executive powers.
The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of the City of London is the mayor of the City of London, which is approximately a square mile (as compared to the 609 sq mi that make up Greater London). The Lord Mayor's job is mostly as a business ambassador to the world, and mostly he travels around the globe and trying to get folks to invest in the City of London. Most of the Square Mile’s businesses are financial services, so mostly it’s chatting up heads of banks. Seems a decent job if you can get it, but you can’t keep it long. The Lord Mayor is replaced every year, and so every year you have the swearing in ceremony for the Lord Mayor.
Since 1215, London has seen the event that is known as the Lord Mayor’s Show. The Lord Mayor is sworn in at his house, Mansion House, and then makes his way to the Royal Court of Justice, in nearby Westminster, to swear an allegiance to the crown. He then makes his way back to Mansion House, where he no doubt sups on fine food and wine. Originally the procession was held each 29th of October, though this was moved to the 9th of November with the switch to the Gregorian Calendar, and then again moved to always be on the second Saturday in November in 1959.
Mansion House, official residence of the Lord Mayor
Royal Courts of Justice
The procession is a very long parade, with many floats, bands, military marchers and fancy types in carriages.
A rare moment of sunshine on an otherwise rainy day had this guy smiling. It didn't last long, as the rain started coming down again about 20 minutes later
You saw puppets sticking out the windows of almost every one of the carriages, which were filled with dignitaries all dressed up in their gowns and sashes. Kind of odd to see someone in a fur-lined cape, grinning like a madman and playing with a badger puppet.
Well, the new Batman is from the United Kingdom, so I guess this makes some sense...
At the end of the parade, the new Lord Mayor comes along in a fancy coach and waves at the crowd. The new Lord Mayor of the City of London is Ian Luder.
Everybody loves a parade, especially kids. And ESPECIALLY if there are puddles to jump in.
After the parade, the little ones can head over to St. Paul’s Cathedral for some carnival fun.
Yeah, that's the kind of image you want just 20 feet from the walls of St. Paul's Cathedral. Real classy...
Then the lights go down, and everyone makes their way back to the Thames river.
Finally, fireworks to top it all off.
Yes, this past week has brought out the kid in me. Smelly, dirty, sugar-filled, hyperactive and pyromaniacal. Late October and early November is a great time to be a kid in London.