The Mayor of Garratt
For a period of eighty years from 1747 to 1826, the Garratt Elections took place every time there was a General Election. One hundred thousand people would attend, predominantly from the large disenfranchised mass of the population. As only about 2% of adult males could vote at the time, this was an opportunity to elect their own comedy Mayor. This 'Mayor' had no statutory powers - the event itself was a boisterous carnival and a flimsy excuse for mayhem, but it served as a protest against the ruling classes. In 2009, the elections were resurrected. I decided to stand as a candidate.
The 2009 elections
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Leather Bottle Inn - the hub of the historical elections - six candidates were selected to compete to be the first Mayor of Garratt in more than 200 years.
Under the pseudonym Lord Randolph Spraff, I took to the hustings alongside five other candidates to campaign for the title of Mayor of Garratt.
What followed was an unexpectedly bawdy affair with nearly 300 drunken people asked to vote for their mayor. Having booed the first three candidates mercilessly, the crowd were hushed as I took to the stage to deliver my manifesto. The specifics of what happened are a bit of a blur to be honest, but it appears that the crowd were swayed by my arguments and I was voted through to the final alongside a double-act called Los Guapos.
After a tense cheer-off, it seemed that the votes were evenly split. Uncertain as to the official protocol in the event of a tie, the mob decided, as they called for one of the most British ways of deciding a dead-heat. They insisted on a pint-downing competition. Little did I know in my youth that my wasted hours spent getting wasted would pay dividends in the future. I'm happy to say that I downed my pint the quickest and was promptly proclaimed 'Mayor of Garratt'. Get in!
I am currently in the process of making a short documentary about the whole event, which should chart everything from the weeks running up to the event to the final, booze-fuelled finale. Watch this space for further updates.
I thank you.
Lord Randolph Spraff
Mayor of Garratt 2009
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