Scientific Instrument Maker's Annual Banquet

Tuesday 21st June 2016

Arriving on time in best starched bib and tucker, we joined the welcoming queue and met Master and Mistress Sawyer to whom I presented a large cigar (the Master being one of 'us' at heart), we were then met by our alloted host, the learned Prof. Grattan and ushered into the Fountain Courtyard for a glass of champagne amid a merry throng who'd already settled in. Spying an ashtray, I lit one of my AITS prize Davidoff's and found we were amongst chums from Ironbridge. Cmdr Angus Menzies (Clerk Master Mariners) hove into view and we found the time passed too quickly before the gong sounded for dinner. The magnificent (and huge) dining room is just off the Courtyard and is the only one in London maintaining a fine organ. Locating our seats in a capacity room of near 200 diners, the Master, his Principal Guest (A.E. Cook CBE) and Sheriffs both were played and clapped in as tradition dictates. We were thoroughly spoiled with four courses comprising lobster, soup, rump of lamb and pistachio parfait. As dessert was being laid, a waitress stood on a chair and called for silence: her colleague 'Bogit' had no friends to sing him 'happy birthday' and to win a bet she asked us too. Not smelling any rats, we all gamely sung for Bogit who emotionally said he'd now like to sing a response to the room! Joined by several other waiters, we enjoyed about twenty minutes of operatic lollipops by a talented group of students who'd been masquerading all evening - to the extent that 'Bogit' served the Mistress champagne. Admittedly, she was taken aback when he then asked if she was for "in" or "out"! They had us waving napkins in the air and danced with a couple of ladies too, it was all great fun. The wines were exceptional and I nobly managed to resist the petit fours (but little else..). We finished around 10.45 and fell into Threadneedle St. to find a cab and so home. Thank you to Company for looking after us all so well.