At 2.30 pm there was immense activity as literally more than a hundred children all between the ages of six to nine years suddenly arrived on foot ord by taxi, all dressed in fantastic costumes as characters from every fairy story, boy's comics and children's books imaginable. If falling within the designated age range they could be accompanied by one adult only (mainly a Master and grandparent). We all surged into Mansion House to great excitement an unspeakable volume of noise and cries of delight.
Inside we walked up the main staircase, familiar to me but most impressive to our young guests, and into the Salon. There, while adults went one way, the children were lined up in formal style and each announced by name, being received by the VIP line up by the Lord Mayor and Nicholas (who wore a smart red sash saying 'Lord Mayor's Consort') as well as the Sheriffs. A nice gesture to the diminutive size of the guests was that the Lord Mayor and Consort received them sitting in chairs rather than standing. My seven year old granddaughter, Lorelei, dressed as Alice in Wonderland, gave a slight curtsy (as practiced with her grandmother), handshake and posed for photos.
We were then ushered into the Egyptian Hall which, apart from a dais for the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Pikemen and another for the band, was completely cleared as an open area of carpet with chairs for adults provided around the edge.
|Lorelei - as Alice in Wonderland|
It was devoid of any formality and had several hundred large balloons hanging from the ceiling. All the children were instructed to sit on the carpet and had superb entertainment provided from the clown Smartie Artie and his friends. The Lord Mayor addressed the children and each then had their "official" photo taken with her.
By allocating tea tickets in Yellow, Blue Green and Red the children had been neatly divided into four groups and there was a number of "attractions" provided in different rooms repeated at set times. The children could therefore rotate between a smashing tea and by real Animal Encounters, a Royal Punch and Judy Show, Smartie Artie the clown and the music, all in smaller and more manageable groups.
The afternoon was impressively action packed and well thought out. One suspected that a level of great expertise and experience had been accumulated over the years in putting on these parties.
The afternoon culminated in a "Grand Conga" that was to take us all around Mansion House - up the stairs and down to the basement, through all the nooks and crannies and back to the Egyptian Hall where we all, both young and old, finally collapsed in exhaustion.
After giving three very loud cheers for the Lord Mayor, hundreds of balloons were released and a mad, friendly scramble ensued. Then we all said farewell to the Lord Mayor and, as we departed at 7 pm, each child received a silver spoon embellished with a miniature Lord Mayor's coach. My granddaughter's feedback said the party 'was amazing!'. Now Lorelei is hopefully busy, in true Livery Company tradition, writing her handwritten letter of thanks to the Lord Mayor for the superb hospitality she received. It should be in the post on Monday!
It is not an absolute requirement for Master's of livery companies to have grandchildren aged between six and nine during one's year of office. Certainly my grand-daughter had an experience she will never forget and will look back on in future years as something very special - and a great privilege. For me, as a Granny, one of the best treats of my year of office.