Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Owen’s Mayor Making was a lot more fun and a lot more Lyme!

THEY should have called it the Mayor Mating, but then I suppose that might have given some people the wrong idea.

Yet in truth it was very matey in the Guildhall last Wednesday, when the room was packed with the biggest gathering of, dare I say it, Old Lyme since they stopped doing jumble sales at the Church Hall. 

The chamber was stuffed with locals, everybody trying not to do little glee hops, and a grin so big on the face of deputy mayor Michaela Ellis that if it had got any wider her head would have fallen off. 

You know like in those old Hammer horror films when at the end the villagers all gather raucously in the pub, everybody rosy-cheeked and wassailing because the Curse of the Mummy is lifted? It was like that.

I’ve been to other Mayor Makings and they’ve seemed a bit like going to school; a bit serious, a bit more proper. But when they made up Owen Lovell as mayor on Wednesday it was a lot more fun and a lot more Lyme.
For starters, there was the outfit. Although she was rather fetching in the mayor’s robes, being so tiny, Sally Holman always looked like she’d been caught playing in her mum’s dressing-up box.

In contrast, when Owen made his happy appearance in the white gloves and Nelson hat, I thought it was Ronnie Barker rehearsing for the Christmas panto. 

And well done him for grinning through it. Who cares if the tailor who said “one size fits all” sold us a kipper, how very Old Lyme is it to have a mayor who can do pomp without pomposity?

I’m not suggesting that Owen will not take his new and greatly-deserved promotion seriously – I was a teenager in Lyme when he was a local bobby, I know very well how seriously Owen can take things – it’s just that he made Mayor Making rather jolly.

Like the moment when he suddenly stopped the proceedings “for a top-up”. 

That’s what he said. Making his very first pronouncement as mayor, Owen rose to say “we’re just going to stop for a top-up”.

A top up? We were only two toasts in, but as only Lyme could deem that eleven toasts are entirely necessary for a sober occasion, everybody was knocking it back like there was no tomorrow.  

“Only Lyme”, the phrase kept coming back to me all evening. Where else, for instance, would anyone [Pip Evans] hilariously propose the toast to the town in the style of Bob Monkhouse, saying that he’d checked the toilet paper in the loo because he didn’t want anyone going home with his name on their bottom.

Where else would a senior councillor [Daryl Turner] respond to Pip’s toast by reciting a self-penned poem the length of “The Faerie Queene”, based on Baz Luhrmann’s spoken word song “Everybody’s Free”? In my day, Owen would have had you cuffed and drug-tested for behaviour like that.

And yet, Daryl’s epic toast was perfect for its honest sentimentality which we all share.
“Be kind to your town, or you’ll miss it when it’s gone,” he said. “Don’t mess too much with your town, because when you need her, she’ll be there.”

Lyme, Daryl had said several hundred stanzas earlier, was “the greatest place you’ll ever know”. Pip had made the same point – “nothing raises your heart more than that view of the Bay” – and it was echoed too in a theme which ran through all of the toasts of Cheryl Reynolds, Michaela, Anita Williams, Chezzie Evans, John Wright, John Broom and Dave Cozens.

And that theme was pride; a pride in how Elliott Herbert’s team of hard-grafting council boys keep Lyme looking beautiful, a pride in our history and a pride in our spirit.
And it was very good to see that pride back in The Guildhall.

“Chivalry and order has returned to the town again,” said Owen, articulating the relief of everyone.

“There will be differences of opinion ahead, but there will be harmony after the storm.”

And as he heavily hinted that the Skatepark is going to happen, the new team is off to a flying start. Long may the new popularity continue. 

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