Monday, July 04, 2005

Changing of the Bands

We went to Buckingham Palace on Sunday to see the changing of the guard with my grandparents. I saw this once before, when I was about three years old and visiting my other grandparents, who lived in London at the time.

It's probably due to the time of year (July vs. December) but there were a LOT more people there--probably about 5,000 crammed in. Barricades were set up, police horses were patrolling the edges, the whole deal. We were supposed to meet my grandparents at the foot of the Victoria Memorial, but that was clearly not going to happen

The changing was a bizarre experience, however. It was announced by a military band coming tromping down the street playing a march. They went through the gates into the Palace courtyard, shuffled around a bit, and then stopped playing as the men in furry hats strutted around doing their thing. Then the band trotted over to the side, picked up some music stands and set them up in a semi-circle, and then proceeded to play a little concert. It was hilarious--they more or less played the same music that my high school wind ensemble used to (at more or less the same skill level, to be honest), highlighted by a spirited rendition of Billy Joel's "Piano Man."

It was a truly bizarre sight: thirty British soldiers dressed in their red coats and furry hats, standing stiffly at attention, participating in an ancient ceremony at the seat of the British monarchy, surrounded by all of the imperial monuments of the Victoria Memorial, playing..."Piano Man."

Weird country.

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