Painter-Stainers Court & Livery Dinner

Tuesday 13th September 2016

I met Master Tony Ward at Ironbridge where we discovered a mutual interest in antique firearms. I was delighted to receive this invitation to what was his Last Hurrah as we have, as Companies, an historic association going back to the 17th Century - we used their hall until the smoking ban and they still have very fond memories of the fug we created at various banquets - cursed politicians take note: we all enjoyed it and no one asked you to queer the pitch! To reinforce this point I presented Tony with a fine torpedo cigar as I arrived for him to enjoy in the quiet moments of retirement. Catching up with new and old pals over Champagne, we were gavelled in and I had most agreeable dinner parters - Alan Borg (ex head Imperial War Museum/v&A); John Browning (Master Gunmaker) - a rarity for being a Yank Master, I did point out if it hadn't been for that tea party "all this could have been theirs" - he took it in good part, and wasn't heavily armed as it turned out. Over the leaf (I was off top table) was Oliver Wise (Master Grocer) a nemesis as it turned out from the PG Wodehouse Cricket Team - as lobster bowler for the Sherlock Holmes Soc, we meet annually to play to the Laws of 1895 where I attempt to claim scalps with deceptively simple bowling... I forget if I've claimed Olivers, but there's still time.. As a Grocer, they had the original remit for Tobacco, so there's plenty of animosity to be unearthed between us if we try hard enough! We then had some excellent music by the Perks Ensemble playing some high brow Beethoven and Jean Francois - I loved it, most refreshing for a Livery do. The Principal Guest was Lewis McNaught, MD of the Mall Galleries who gave an insightful break down of the state of the art market. I pretty much agreed with him and, if you want the low down, buy good marine art and dump your contemporary, it's a disaster waiting to happen (knew it!). Thereafter a stirrup cup where I caught up with Tony, his daughter Charlotte, newly installed as a Liveryman and about to go to Bristol, Lewis, Tony's wife Elizabeth and several others, before peeling off into the still warm night to surprise an Uber home..