Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Livery Pancake Races Guildhall Tuesday 12th February

Shrove Tuesday  - traditionally a day when we use up all our flour, eggs and fat in expectation of the start of Lent the following day – Ash Wednesday.
All assembled in Guildhall Yard on a very cold winter’s morning, I was accompanied by Liverymen Leslie Wilson and Annie Brooks.  Senior Warden Michael Harrison, Court Assistants John Hooper and David Williams, and Freeman Utz Reiff were also there among others to cheer me on.
Health and Safety concerns were emphasised by loudspeaker several times as the surface of the Guildhall Yard is notoriously slippery, to say the least.  In other circumstances, if we had not been where we were, with tradition bearing on the side of annual foolishness, I suspect some HSE representative would have packed us all off home.
The Lady Mayoress opened the event, recounting the ancient history of pancake races.  Sadly, the Marketors were not eligible this year to field a full team, and so it was all up to me in the Masters’ Qualifying Race.  Masters are required to wear a chef’s hat, their Master’s robe and badge, and an apron – as well as rather welcome gloves, and of course carry a surprisingly heavy pan with pancake, all of which contributes to make quite a handicap in a fast sprint!  Masters very generously cheered each other on.  However, with stiff competition (from cold?) and up against longer and more reckless legs than mine I was alas not successful in qualifying us to put a team in next year so we will have to rely on the Senior Warden to get us back in the full competition in 2014.
The Pancake Races, brilliantly organised by the Poulters’ Company, have become a regular and well attended fun event in the City programme – run over the years in (and despite) all weathers.  With a welcome hot mug of Carrot and Coriander soup in the Crypt to revive us all from the terrible chill outside, we reflected on the sheer eccentricity of the event and the fun.  An excellent lunch followed, and the just desserts were of course – pancakes.
As souvenirs of the event we came away with commemorative mugs and aprons – but sorry, no engraved copper frying pan this year.

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