For all of you that don’ t know, the Lord Mayor’s Show is an annual parade-y thingy through the streets of the City of London. And before you all think I’ve gone over to the dark side, no, Boris johnson is not the Lord Mayor of London; he is – to my ever-lasting sorrow – the mayor of London which is a very different thing.
Like so many parade-y thingies, it is resplendent with jingoistic, militaristic fervour. Every third float or group is some branch of the military and I lost count of the number of tanks that rumbled past (although there was only one helicopter dragged along, ‘piloted’ by two female pilots which, obviously I’m conflicted about but which, simply, makes the feminist bell above my heart clang with joy). I did at one point wonder whether we had any serving personnel left overseas.
But there are two things that you need to know. Firstly, I am a sucker for a marching band; that brrru-uuum of the drums gets me every time. Heck, I used to be in a marching band and I still know now that I have never been happier in 100% nylon trousers and a large feather in my hat. For those of you equally charmed by the marching band sound, you really should check out the Trans-Siberian Marching Band for banging tunes with fewer uniforms and more cross-dressing.
Secondly, I spent most of the day welling up. I am a sarcastic, cynical fucker, I know, but occasionally – and only, I hasten to add, since I had bloody kids – I am, literally, over-whelmed by nice-ity-ness. Do other mothers have this? I used to be able to watch Andrex ads and think only ‘nice puppy, cute’ and ‘jeez, the kid’s like, what, four, and he can’t wipe his own arse?’ Now, I watch an Andrex ad, and sometimes, without warning and seemingly at random, I find my eyes all wet and a lump in my throat as I contemplate the beauty of a world where a yellow Lab puppy will overcome the innate dumbness of its sub-species and race for miles to give a toilet roll to a small child. I’m embarrassed for myself. You have no idea how embarrassed. Although I do still think the kid’s old enough to wipe his own arse.
Anyway. The point was that everybody was so happy to be parading (except the non-smiling army people, and as long as they bring the tunes, who the fuck cares if they sit in the kitchen at the party?). Everybody had shit-eating grins on their faces. The volunteers from St. Bart’s (the local hospital), the volunteers and children associated with the Variety Club, the children from the various programmes to save ‘inner city’ children from a range of perceived evils, fuck, even the nobby wankers from the Worshipful Companies who no doubt spend every other day of their lives thinking of new ways to fuck people over or just getting, well, more plump, were smiling and waving and just happy as fuck to be walking through the streets of London waving at complete strangers while complete strangers waved back at them.
Frankly, it was lovely. And all a bit much for me. I got a bit giddy and over-excited and aside from the odd sarcastic comment (who’s this? oh, the worshipful company of over-stuffed white men! Haven’t we had them already?), I was a bundle of smiling, waving fluffiness. A rare day indeed.
D’you know the only thing that spoiled it for me? Stephen bloody Fry who brought up the rear of the parade in the stumbling shamble he calls a walk while he’s pretending to be all man of the people. I’m slightly intolerant of Frye because I used to like him – used to as Mel C once said, wish he was my uncle who we ‘could just go round to Uncle Stephen’s and learn some stuff’ – until the whole women don’t like sex and I, a gay man who is notorious for being terrified of both women and, until latterly, gay sex, am too wrapped up in my own white man privilege to understand that even if I had anything whatsoever to contribute to the subject of women’s sexuality it wouldn’t be for me to express as a fucking command. Idiot, as the French say with just slightly more flair (ignore the ‘t’ and really eat the ‘o’).
The other thing that really gets me is his constant flouncing off Twitter and whatnot. Toys, pram, throwing, anybody? No, we are so over our Stephen Fry phase here in Boogieville. It saddens us (for we love and honour intelligence in this town), but we know it must be (because we hate unexamined privilege and, oh, yes, basic stupidity).
Boogie loved the whole thing so much she was almost zombie-fied by the end from constant waving and smiling. She saw plenty of children in it and is desperate as desperate can be to participate in next year’s parade. Thinking on my feet, I gave her the following options:
- learn the clarinet and then learn to play it whilst marching
- join a dancing ‘youth group’
- become a St John’s ambulance cadet
- jump out of a plane and join the parachute regiment
She toyed briefly with the first until she heard the last. I am now charged with finding a parachute centre with so few ethics that they will allow a 6 year old to skydive.
I am not looking too hard.