Men and their dress up boxes

Posted on November 12, 2011


Living in a country which likes its bit of pageantry is ok. It’s nice even, sometimes.  But sometimes, living in this country is like being surrounded by children who have been let loose in the dress-up box.  Like today.  For today was the Lord Mayor’s Show.  A parade full of pomp and circumstance to mark the inauguration of the new Lord Mayor of the City of London.  Now let’s be clear:  we are not talking about the Mayor of London – that would be Boris Johnson.  No, we are talking about the man (for when has it ever been a woman?) who is Lord Mayor for the square mile that is the Corporation of the City of London.

Today’s dress-ups my partner  described as a festival of transvestism –  lots of public school straight blokes who love a good bit of old dressing up.  Out came the feathers, the stockings, the high heels with big buckles, the big dress-like coats, the fur stoles, the big hats and of course the accoutrement – the sticks, the gloves and probably the bags as well.  Never have I seen so many completely made-up quasi official, outfits meant to denote officialdom and position.

We made the error of turning on the tellie to check the weather before heading out this morning and this was when we came across the BBC live and breathless from the streets of the City of London.  An hour later, we were laughing to hard they shouted at us from next door to keep it down!

A man in a silly black made up uniform with lots of feathers ran around saluting hither and thither even though he appears to have no military role at all: simply a master of ceremonies.  In fact there was so much saluting of people who seemed to have no real role at all it was pythonesque.  There may have been some internal logic to it – probably the number of feathers equating to seniority and therefore to saluting status.  The new Lord Mayor came along in the most extraordinary guilt horse drawn coach, folllowed by what I am sure was legions of people in every single type of uniform ever to have known British soil.   Quite apart from the many representatives of the armed forces, there were the brownies and the guides, the scouts and salvos, the fire brigade, St John’s Ambulance, the paviors (paviors??  yes, the worshipful society of people who build the roads), and let us not forget all the other 108 Worshipful Societies made so under the City of London Act.

But I would be remiss not to mention the floats of countries far and wide.  Our particular favourite was the country float for the Philippines. The very lovely Claire Balding interviewed one representative about the meaning of the various outfits worn by the women on the float. It was very interesting and all, but what really set us onto the floor in fits of hysterics was when the camera panned back to reveal the lovely ugg boots our Philipina was wearing under the most ornate of traditional dresses.  Ahh – priceless!  But that’s just it.  How much did it cost?  I don’t think I have seen so many horses, carriages, uniforms, and general pomp ever.  Not even for William and Kate’s wedding!

And all of this we found out is done, not once every few years, but EVERY YEAR!  Wow!  Now we know where all those Bankers bonuses go!  No wait, it’s rates payers that are footing the bill!. How silly of me!

Here’s to the dress-up box!