County Pomp & Circumstance

Momentous day for Cllr Colin Legg, because at the 11am County Council meeting, the outgoing Chairman was to relinquish his chain of office & present it to the incoming chairman: Cllr. Colin of Halkyn Ward. I would be in on the act too as I had accepted Colin’s invitation to be his consort for his Civic Year. The practice run the day before had been a little chaotic & I had been reminded that after my chain was bestowed, I would return to my seat in the chamber to finish the rest of the business. During the real ceremony Quentin Dodd handed over his chain, oath was signed under the watchful eye of the Chief Executive and then I was called to the dais to collect my chain. Kisses and handshakes all round after the heavy metal piece of Flintshire history was laid on my shoulders. Sadly, my name won’t appear on the roll of honour. It will never appear on Hawarden Community Council’s Chairman’s role of honour board either – I would have liked to have been engraved somewhere! What vanity! Owen Thomas, as the incoming deputy chair was then called and the ritual was repeated. Bouquets appeared from nowhere for the retiring consort and for me and as I made a bid to leave, as per the previous day’s instructions & return to council seat, Colin told me sit by him. So I did. Arnold Woolley was nominated leader and made his speech of acceptance without the secret ballot or kafuffle that was rumoured would take place because the leadership would be contested. Wise decisions had been made to allow the civic side of the Council’s life to go ahead without disruption. In the Chair’s Parlour, I presented Colin with my books & had inscribed them to wish him a good year & that I was pleased to be part of the team. It was then off to join the buffet. I circulated and chatted to show I was still one of ‘them’ and had not been elevated to royalty. The food was plentiful but the queue rather long & I made a mental note to ask the caterers to find a way of speeding up the service in future. As members and quests drifted away, I helped a guest escape from a sticking loo door in the Chair’s room, carefully returned my chain to its leather box, gathered my handsome bouquet and left the building in bright sunlight. I wanted that sunlight to shine on the following Sunday when I accompanied the Chair to the lord Mayor of Chester’s civic service at the cathedral. We were seventh in the procession of the great and the good and had Elsmere Port dignitaries in front of us and Beaumaris mayor and lady behind us, representing a “walled city”. A couple of bewigged person’s, several aldermen plus a lady with red robe but no cocked hat; the sheriff and several unrecognised dignitaries processed before us as part of the civic crocodile that had to brave the rain to reach the cathedral. Arwel, the Chair’s driver slid up with big Flintshire brolly at the appropriate moment & Colin and I huddled underneath as the rain dripped down. We tried to accommodate the Mayor and lady of Elsmere Port in front of us but there was just not the room. The service came up to expectation with a largely female choir producing lovely music. A mace bearing usher escorted the lesson readers from their seats to the pulpit and the sermon delivered by Father Paul Shaw from St Werburg’s Chester. He spoke directly to the new Lord Mayor and we were rewarded with a thought provoking, clever and highly enjoyable sermon. We returned to the Town Hall again supported by the official brolly, ate cake drank tea, mingled with the Chains, some new, some soon to be replaced as year of office drew to a close. Then, having thanked the new Lord Mayor for his hospitality, we walked to the car park as Arwel feared for a parking ticket from zealous local police. As the chains were being loaded back into their boxes, a big man carrying a wardrobe bag wandered over to us. I told him where we hailed from and asked who he was. “I’m a judge”, he replied grandly.
“I trust I have never appeared before you, my Lord”, I quipped. It was time to go home courtesy of the sleek black Lexus, take off the hat and walk the dogs.
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