Only in England…

I’ve heard some “interesting” excuses in my time regarding lack of punctuality, but this morning’s excuse by Yours Truly for arriving at work a little late has to be one of the best ever.

This is what happened. I was furiously pedalling my way to the office (trying to beat my best time if you must know) when I turned into Horse Guards Parade and found a big burly policeman blocking my way.

“You’ll have to ride on the footpath,” he said, pointing in its direction. “This road’s going to be closed for ten minutes or so.”

It is technically illegal to ride a bike on a footpath but he’d given me permission so I didn’t feel too guilty, I just made sure to take it carefully and slowly as I tried to avoid running over any pedestrians.

There were police lining the route so I figured that the Queen was going to go whizzing by (I’ve seen her a couple of times since I began commuting to work on a bike), so imagine my surprise when a marching band led by a policewoman on a monster of a draught horse turned into the road.

Unfortunately I did not have my camera, so you will have to take my word for it, but
the band looked like a set of immaculate toy soldiers. They were smartly dressed in long grey wool coats and shiny black boots. They were divided into two sets, the first wearing tall black bearskin hats, and the second wearing normal peaked hats.

I stood and watched them march by. They were playing very loud rumpa-tum-rumpa-tum marching music interspersed with thunderously loud clashing cymbals. (Have you ever seen those cymbals up close? They are GIGANTIC.)

And then just as soon as it had begun they were gone, and I was back on the road cycling the remaining two miles to work. It was a kind of surreal way to start the day. And I certainly received some quizzical reactions when I told my colleagues the reason I was late was because the Grenadier Guards had held me up!

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9 thoughts on “Only in England…

  1. Just when you don’t have your camera!
    We lived in Pimlico for a year and I used to walk across St James Park and past St James Palace every morning to my job in Mayfair. Every other week or so the guards would change and they’d be a pair of soldiers from a new regiment, of course wearing new uniforms. I never got a smile out of any of them!
    With that and stopping on my way home to listen to the band that used to play in the rotunda over the summer, and the mad squirrels darting everywhere, I think that was the best commute to work I’ve ever had.

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  2. To be sung to the tune of The Mountains of Mourne
    If you ever go across the sea to London,
    Then maybe at the dawning of the day
    You will see the Grenadier Guards go marching
    They’ll hold you up, then you’ll be on your way
    That’s the best excuse I’ve heard in a long time Kim. Of course prepare yourself for the response from some wit that goes.
    What guns did they have when they held you up!

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  3. Fi, that sounds like a wonderful commute to work!
    Ainelivia, hee, hee! 😉 Great comment.
    Alda, and it’s much better than the standard one every London office worker uses, which is “there was a problem on the tube”!

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  4. And no camera! One of the reasons I like the little camera we bought. One day in Dec. 2001, my mom & I & my 6 month old daughter (at the time) were in Chinatown in NYC. Being just after 9/11, it was empty and weird. And next thing we knew the Secret Service was closing the road, and the governer and the Secretary of Labor came out as a parade of Chinese dragons and drums and cymbals began.
    Surreal. I just love those moments. But I didn’t have a camera!

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