Poppies and parades
Last weekend London played host to two major events. The first was on Saturday morning when the Lord Mayor's Show took place. The Lord Mayor is elected each year: he is the Lord Mayor of the City of London - that's not the whole of London, but an area of approximately one square mile, right in the centre of London. There's been a Lord Mayor of London ever since 1189. In 1215, King John granted a Charter that allowed the City's citizens to elect their own mayor. Each year from then on, the new Mayor has had to travel from the City to Westminster to pledge allegiance to the King or Queen. So for nearly 800 years there has been a procession or parade through the streets of London. Over the years the Mayor's journey became so splendid that it became known as the Lord Mayor's Show.
This year over 6,100 people took part in the Lord Mayor's Show and I was lucky enough to be one of them. Can you spot me?
If it's a bit small you can try looking here
Also taking part were: 2000 servicemen and women
13 marching bands and 21 carriages including the State Coach
The procession is 3 miles long but fits into a route of only 1.7 miles! How do they do that?!
As some of the Rangers were taking part, I was asked if I wanted to go and help. We were all part of the Jack Petchey Foundation display. We had to meet in London at 9.30 and were then given a flag and instructions. All the nationalities that live in London were represented by flags.
There was quite a lot of waiting around until the start of the parade at 11.00, but once we got going it was fantastic! Thousands of people lined the streets, shouting, cheering, waving and blowing whistles. We had been told to wave, smile and cheer as we walked along - but at the same time, we had to watch where we put our feet, as there were a lot of horses in front of us....and you know what horses do! About half an hour in to the parade and it started to rain. in fact, it didn't rain...it poured! But we kept marching and smiling and waving. Soon after, I had to take my glasses off, as I needed windscreen wipers to see! But I kept marching and waving and smiling. It was, as one of the Rangers said, "awesome"!
We followed the traditional route through the streets of the City to the Royal Courts of Justice (close to Bush House) and while the new Lord Mayor went inside to take his oath of allegiance, we stopped for lunch. Can you imagine how much organisation goes in to feeding 6,000 people? Everyone was given a bag with a sandwich, crisps, water and chocolate - then everything was cleared away and in less than an hour we were marching back to the City of London. Needless to say, it rained, but it was a wonderful experience. You can see by the smiles on our faces that we may have been wet and cold, but we were very happy!
And so to the second major event: Remembrance Sunday. Helen has actually written quite a bit in her blog about this, so I won't write much more, but I thought I'd say a little bit about poppies. The poppy was chosen as the symbol of remembrance at the end of the First World War. In 1915 a Canadian doctor serving in France wrote a poem called "In Flanders fields"
. The day before, a friend of his had been killed. The grave was marked with a simple cross but wild poppies were growing between the graves. In Britain, the poppy is now the symbol of the Royal British Legion. "Poppy Sellers" stand in the streets in the weeks leading up to Rembrance Day (which is 11 November) and in exchange for a donation, give you a red paper poppy to wear. The money raised goes to help people who fought - and are still fighting - in wars, and their families. On the nearest Sunday to 11 November, the Queen, members of her family, politicians and many other representatives lay poppy wreaths at the Centotaph - not far from Westminster Abbey
In the grounds of Westminster Abbey itself, there is a "Field of Remembrance"
rows and rows of crosses and poppies put down by people who have lost a friend or family member fighting in a war. I went to take a photo for you and for the first time put down my own cross. My grandfather was a mechanic in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War and was killed when the ship he was travelling in hit a mine.
Helen wrote about the two minute silence and many of you commented. I'd just like to add that many, many people in Britain observed the silence at 11 o'clock on 11 November. Buses pulled over to the side of the road, people stopped work, at school, in meetings or just in the street. At the Cenotaph more wreaths were laid. As this year marks 90 years since the end of the First World War, 3 veterans laid wreaths: they were aged 108, 110 and 112. The 112 year-old also served in the Royal Flying Corps. Just think, he might have met my grandfather!
P.S. Thank you for all your comments about "special" birthdays.
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