As you all probably know by now, today is National Hand a Lemon Meringue to a Structural Engineer Day. After the media blitz of the last few weeks when it seemed every other news story, or media advert contained either a lemon meringue, a structural engineer, or both in some hastily contrived situation, it is good that the day is now actually here.
No doubt over the next few hours there will be plenty of footage of celebrities and other figures of national significance (if not relevance) gurning broadly as they hand a lemon meringue to a no-doubt awkwardly-grinning structural engineer in yet another over-staged photoshoot.
The day itself has come a long way since its origins somewhere in the early Renaissance. Historians believe it began when the apprentices to the forerunners to structural engineers would hand a pie – usually no doubt baked by their mothers – to their master as a mark of respect and gratitude for all they had learnt about the noble art of structural engineering during that previous year.
Of course, as time went on, it became a much more formal event. Latterly, with the decline of the apprenticeship system, others took the place of the apprentices. This was mainly, as Winston Churchill said, on this day during World War II, ‘It is a mark of respect and gratitude when this great nation remembers the vital work that its structural engineers perform. This was especially true during the dark days of war, when Churchill personally handed a lemon meringue pie to the head of the crack squad of structural engineers tasked with making sure that the great buildings of London and other leading cites survived the blitz as intact and structurally sound as possible.
Once the war was over, National Lemon Meringue Pie Day became one of those vital national days that bring the country together. It enables us all to remember the structural engineers of the war and their vital work, but also their contemporary fellow structural engineers. Most people in this country are eager participants in the ceremonies and events, apart from a few self-styled pacifists and dissenters who insist on handing egg custards to community outreach workers instead.
Some of these dissenters have pointed out that National Hand a Lemon Meringue to a Structural Engineer Day is only tangentially related to both world wars, and they still feel that it garnered an overt military aura to itself during those dark days that Churchill so eloquently spoke of.
However, the vast majority of us, especially those traditionalists like to gather outside the offices of local structural engineers to sing traditional structural engineering ballads and shanties. Consequently, the day has a significance and cultural importance that is vital to remind us all of our shared past and the importance of commemorating that past. In particular, how through the work of dedicated people like our structural engineers we can face the uncertainties of the future with confidence that at least our buildings will not fall down around our heads. As many historians have pointed out that these events are a way that a civilisation can assure its own continuity.
However, with all the excitement of National Lemon we must all make sure that we all remember to put the cat out next Tuesday on National Put the Cat Out Day, of course.