Master & Clerks Dinner, Plaisterers' Hall

Tuesday 10th January 2017

The first event of the New Year was a dinner for Masters and Clerks. Kindly hosted by the WC Plaisterers', this was one of the first events since the Hall reopened following a near year of torment that began with a burst watermain last Easter... Once again, the discreet entrance (which I'd last espied on the Halls Walk whilst the Hall was still in bandages) belied what was behind - one of the largest dining rooms boasted in the City and equalling Mansion House for capacity - 300 can dine comfortably dine in neo-Georgian splendour here. Originally built in the mid 70's, it boasts fine ornamental plaster work, as one might expect. The Hon Clerk found me just as I was about to go in and join the throng. All thoughts of a "dry January" evapourated when offered a choice of elderflower water or good champagne - well what would you do? Having had a month off, it was very good to re-connect with so many old friends and try to catch up before someone else steps in. Called to order, we shuffled to our alloted seats - this serves as a Court Dinner as well and so all the Past Masters wore light blue gowns in addition to the wardens and Master. There were 55 visiting Masters with their Clerks, so the Plaisterer's must have numbered around 200 - impressive. The Hall is actually run by the House caterer and, because this is the owner's night, they pulled out all the stops and served up a splendid table - sea trout terrine; roast pheasant with raised game pie; gateaux opera cake and a fragrent cheese platter, all washed down with excellent wines as appropriate, and a brandy 'chaser' with the coffee too! I was delighted to see they have a fine collection of rams head mulls and, whilst they aren't formally "introduced" they contained fresh snuff and as soon as we'd drunk the Loyal Toast, I made sure ours was sent on its way - although my immediate neighbours enjoyed something rather more superior from my own Private Supply.. I was sat opposite Renter Warden Tim Cooke who'd just collected an OBE for chairing the successful Waterloo 200 celebrations. We then drank a Loving Cup (in this Company the spare person looks at the back of the imbiber) then speeches.. With the speeches concluded (their Clerk traditionally speaks at this meal and did them proud), we enjoyed some entertainment by Gergely Bandi, a Guildhall student, who gave a lovely rendition on the classical guitar - I was later told by the Master that he played 'Lob der Tranen' (Schubert, arranged by Johann Kasper Mertz); followed by a Hungarian Fantasy by Mertz; That done, the Master bid us good journeys home but to partake of a sharpner before we dispersed, thus we went off to find a stirrup cup. As they own the hall there was none of the stress of being booted out and, having stumbled across the Master Mariner and Furniture Maker, it was quite a surprise when I noted it was knocking on for 11.30 and time to bid Master Terence Wright a very good night.