Tradition, a rarely worn suit
Lunching the Lord Mayor
‘All rise for the gracious, Lord Mayor’, bellowed the sashed MC as the refectory tables and its heavy chairs scraped against historic stone. There we stood under soft light beneath the curves of the Guildhall’s East Crypt in the City of London, conceived in the 12thCentury, the large flagstones had witnessed historic gatherings for the past 8 centuries. A slow hand clap was initiated by the tutored and the practised.
A portly man, still beaming from his Presidential election for the Ward of Bishopsgate resplendent in tails, sash and sporting the medal of the Ward was followed in quick pursuit by a shorter slimmer version. My novice smile gave away my Guildhall virginity, my neighbour nudged me, ‘there’s a lot of standing up and sitting down’. The outgoing President’s speech had all the interest of being cornered by a boring uncle detailing his gall stone operation. However, the Lord Mayor’s light touch, humility and shortness of speech won over the audience. Toasts were delivered to HRH the Queen and the charities supported by the Ward.
The faces of elderly gents in morning dress and ladies from a post debutante era shone with delight and familiarity. Delight that tradition was still being rehearsed and finding comfort in its rituals. I discovered I too was smiling, glad that traditions which help define cultures, identity and a sense of place still exist, have a place and are respectfully observed. The problem is that often tradition can appear as a language that is feint and foreign, a little like Latin…after all when does one use it and how useful is it? Yet without it we wouldn’t have many of our European languages it underpins our most common form of communication.
Standing on the polished flagstones of times past I toasted tradition with a velvety glass of Late Bottled Vintage Port and imbibed centuries of history…how delicious.
Ahh…the words of the wonderful T.S. Eliot.“My mind may be American but my heart is British.”