diamond geezer

 Sunday, June 24, 2012

Celebrate the City: When the City of London throws an event, it does it in style. That's because its corporations and livery companies are loaded, so finding funds for a long weekend of celebrations is easy. They also have centuries of history and tradition to fall back on, and the ability to shut down streets, and plenty of volunteers willing to get stuck in and run stuff. Here's a taste of what you might have seen yesterday had you popped down.
» Cheapside Street Fayre: It's not every day you see chickens and sheep in EC2, but the Worshipful Company of Poulters and the Worshipful Company of Woolmen brought theirs along. The street developed a proper rural flavour with a fully functioning smithy up and running outside One New Change, courtesy of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, plus all the lathe-turning skills you'd expect from the Worshipful Company of Turners. Wisely, the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants stayed away.
» Bow Bells: That's the proper bells at St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside, which rang a full quarter peal on Saturday - a thunderously fine half hour. Alas, few Cockneys will have noticed.
» The Bridge: The Millennium Bridge is normally packed with tourists, so this wasn't an easy performance for the few dozen dancers spread out across it. But they posed, they slunk, they contorted, and they oh-so-professionally ignored everyone staring at them, and they were collectively great.
» Plaisterers Hall: The largest Great Hall in the City belongs to the plasterers, who've used all their skills to trowel its surfaces with intricate craftsmanship. It's not what you expect to find in the basement of a 1970s office block... pilasters, architraves, entablatures, and not a splash of Artex in sight. From the back door I finally got to do something I've been longing to do for ages - I walked out of the hall into their back garden onto a platform amid original chunks of London's Roman Wall. And I came away with a free plaster drinks coaster, very recently moulded and set by apprentices in the Livery Hall, which has now just about dried out.
» Goldsmiths Hall: If you want to be a wealthy craftsman, forget plaster, and get into gold. The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths own lots of the stuff, some decorating their walls and ceilings, and much of the rest currently on show in a major exhibition. They've got cases and cases of the stuff, from Anglo-Saxon torcs to modern jewellery, all laid out on two floors and a staircase for your general perusal. It's a bit showy, but an astonishing accumulation, and remains open for free public viewing until the end of July.

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