From Anshi’s desk…..
It all started a while back, 6 months ago to be precise. It was the end of yet another ordinary day at school, when suddenly, I looked up from my book, which I was deeply engrossed in, to find a leaflet lying on my desk. It was announcing a competition about writing a letter about becoming Mayor of the town for one day and what you would do if this happened. As soon as I read this, I was full of elation and was keen to begin my letter as soon as I had arrived home. I was struggling for ideas; my Nanu (Grandfather) was visiting and since he has a lot of wisdom, I asked him for advice. He gave me a few ideas as did my Dad. I can guarantee that without their support and assistance achieving this magnificent opportunity would have been a bit difficult. Giving credit where it is due….. hahaha!
To my absolute delight, I did win the competition and was chosen- alongside three others- from a number of participants to be the Mayor for one day…..yoohooo!!!
The eve before my reign as Mayor I can well remember, not being able to think about anything other than what would happen the next day. Excited I was indeed!!!
Finally …….I’m Mayor today:-
The next morning, it was a bright and summery day and I could not wait to govern as Mayor; I was bursting with exhilaration. As we entered the local District Council Office we- my Dad and I- were warmly greeted by the Mayor’s secretary. She took me and three other winners (junior Mayors) of the competition to the mayor’s parlour. As we entered, I gazed at my surroundings and was astonished to see so many prestigious items, including:
The golden Mast carried by the Beadle (Mayor’s bodyguard) to usher people out of the Mayor’s path.
The silver stick used by the Mayor to walk with.
And the golden necklace worn by the Mayor to ceremonial events such as: the opening of a new business.
There also seemed to be an abundance of antique furniture in the parlour. Later in the day, I asked the Mayor why this was and he said it was because in the olden times the town’s main trade used to be making furniture and all the furniture in the Mayor’s chamber was donated by the many craftsmen who made them.
High Wycombe – A twinned town:-
The Mayor explained the history of our town to us. He told us that it was twinned with a place called “Kelkheim”- a small town in Germany which is near Frankfurt. It was interesting because when on a sign near my town it said ” High Wycombe twinned with Kelkheim”, but I never understood what it actually meant!
Recently, The Mayor and 20 other people visited Kelkheim, stayed with German families and were shown around the town. The Mayor said that in a few months’ time the Mayor of Kelkheim and twenty other people would stay with English families and be shown around just as they did to the English. The reason behind this was because if there was to be a war you would require as many allies as possible. He also informed us that in 1974 the Mayor’s powers were removed and distributed amongst the District Council, hence from then onwards the Mayor became entirely ceremonial and just promoted the town. Therefore, he said if had a complaint to make we should not cavil to him but to the District Council.
Weighing of the Mayor:-
After that activity it was the weighing ceremony. This unorthodox tradition is only done in one place in the world….my town!!! This tradition was followed to see if the Mayor was squandering the townsfolk’s money on himself or using it for good purposes such as: maintaining local parks. At the inauguration of each Mayor’s reign the crier, the person who would shout out the weight of the Mayor, would weigh the Mayor, then at the end of his reign he would, once again, be weighed; if he had put on weight it meant that he had been dissipating the money on himself- a mistake that was paid for dearly as the townsfolk would throw rotten tomatoes and eggs at him. If the Mayor had not put on weight then the townsfolk would praise him. However, in recent times this ritual is not taken as seriously as the Mayor has become entirely ceremonial.
Learning about the rich history of High Wycombe certainly puts up a huge appetite and at the exactly at that time it was time for lunch. My parents were invited to join us and this being a once in a lifetime opportunity they did come. We had a delicious meal of “Jimmy’s Pizza” of which I had three slices.
Visit to the street market:-
After lunch the Beadle put on my “Mayor” robes, as I was chosen to be the Mayor, and we went into to the high street – the street market, where we talked to the local businessmen. My particular favourite was a business run by a man called Nathan, he was extremely jolly and I had a lot of fun talking to him. We asked him how his business was doing and if there was anything he would covet from the Mayor. The reason we did this was that in the olden days the Mayor would look after the businesses and would do a weekly check on them.
Beating of the bounds:-
The next ceremony was the beating of the bounds. It was a ceremony in which we were turned upside-down and our heads touched the stones which marked the ancient boundaries of Chepping Wycombe, chepping meant “in view of…” and Wycombe meant ” Market town” in old English, as Wycombe was just a small village besieged by forests.
Meeting our local firefighters:-
Our final stop was to the fire Station. A man called Howard took us to the “Bays”. A room where all the equipment is stored. He told us how all the tools work and I even tried to hold one. Although, it was very heavy!!!, we held the hoses and the water guns; Howard even showed us how to connect the pipes to the hoses and how he could take water from any source. Then, it was my turn to try and put on the fireman’s clothes. The time limit for a Fireman to get dressed is 80 seconds and their chattels include: boots, with steel inside them for foot protection, baggy trousers (which felt like a ton!!!…. well at least to me) and an extremely thick coat, which stopped the heat from the fire hurting or burning your skin.
I had a wonderful time being Mayor; I hope this gave you an insight to what it actually feels like, being a Mayor.