One of the bonuses of coming to live in the UK was discovering that not only did I share a birthday with Shakespeare but my birthday falls on the same day as the Patron Saint of England; St Georges day…..all those years and who knew??
In the past I have endeavoured to be in another country on my birthday but since I am London bound this year I decided to investigate ‘what’s on in the city’ and head out to participate. To my delight I discovered that one of my favourite places in the City of London; Leadenhall Market was hosting a celebration of the day with Morris Men dancers and attempting to set a new World Record for the greatest number of people to toast St George…..how could I resist.
I set off relatively early and made my way along streets, not paved with gold but splattered with rain…yes you guessed…it was the wettest and coldest 23rd April in something like 26 years….why!!!!!!! LOL Ah well this is London after all So I arrived at the venue and meandered about taking photos and then discovered that the 12noon dancing was in fact at 1.15 pm so I decided to visit the Bank of England instead. Maybe get a loan from yer man….Melvyn! hahahaha. Seriously though the Bank’s museum is a brilliant place and I managed to lift the gold bar…shame you don’t get to keep it if you pick up, but there you go, win some; lose some!
It’s really interesting to read about the beginnings of the banking system in the UK and how bonnie Prince Charlie bankrupted some banks by not paying back his loans… tut, tut. Thankfully our present Monarch has more bucks in the bank and seems to be quite comfortably well off. ’what! what!’ Now it’s the Politicians who seem intent on bankrupting the country, never mind the banks. But I digress…..
So after the museum visit I set off once again through the streets of London back to Leadenhall Market and along the way I visited the Heart of the City, the Royal Exchange, St Mary Woolnoth Church (The church’s site has been used for worship for at least 2,000 years), Pope’s head Alley, the site of Lloyd’s Coffee House 1691-1785, Mitsubishi trust House (has the most amazing sculptures above the entrance), the Crosse Keys Pub (A plaque on the front of this pub recalls that a famous coaching inn, called the Crosse Keys, stood near this site) and thence to Leadenhall Market and behold the Morris Dancers!
Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, handkerchiefs and bells may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two men, steps are performed near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid across each other on the floor.
Claims that English records, dating back to 1448, mention the morris dance are open to dispute. There is no mention of “morris” dancing earlier than the late 15th century, although early records such as Bishops’ “Visitation Articles” mention sword dancing, guising and other dancing activities as well as mumming plays.
Most entertaining and I was delighted to finally get to see a performance. Then it was time for the World Record! A toast to St George
“I see you stand like
greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start.
The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit,
and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry,
England and St George!”
Shakespeare, Henry V, Act III, scene 1.
And I believe that a new World Record was set hee hee and I was a part of it! Loud cheers followed this lusty outburst.
Just before I left I decided to buy a red rosebeing sold by some chaps in fancy dress……one of whom was St George. When I mentioned that it was my birthday, he said ‘go on! give us a kiss’, and so the Dragon kissed St George