Apothecaries' Livery Dinner

Wednesday 22nd February 2017

By the kind invitation of John Hudson, Liveryman of this Company, Art Scholar and Warrior with the HAC, I was very pleased to attend this Livery Dinner in their lovely Hall. As usual, it's a post-fire rebuild, but a very fine and very original one. They're just sorting out a nasty batch of dry rot which was spotted in an inspection last year, but you wouldn't know it once inside. The display of instruments and treasures are as interesting as ever, and I recall a particularly dandified portrait of James II - whom we as Tobacco Pipe Makers have to be grateful for as he granted our first Charter in 1619 - but only because he wanted the cash! He raised tobacco tax by a cool 4000% and then issued his infamous "A Counterblaste to Tobacco", one of the earliest anti-smoking tracts, so we have rather mixed feelings about him.. I think the rest of the Country did too though! There are also a couple of large framed pennants which were used on the Companies barge at Nelson's Funeral in the dining hall (see top left in the image). The Company is heavily populated with doctors and surgeons as one might expect, but all were very social and I met some very engaging people. My host, John, a valuer from Christie's days had also invited Tom Christopherson, Master Fine Art Scholar, always good fun, and it was too soon before John's antique watch (c.1760) told us it was time for dinner. Once graced and seated, we were served gin cured trout; rack of lamb; almond tart with a particularly good St. Emilion 2000 and others - very hard to decline a refill of that! We then had port and madeira and a loving cup. We didn't 'bob' for the toasts (hooray) and then the Master, Derek Adams, welcomed us followed by guest intros from the Junior Warden. The Principal Guest was Prof. Christopher Whitty who gave us a few minutes of fun before it was time to retreat to the Stirrup Cup - more of the St. Emilion for me I'm afraid. As this is their own Hall, no one was pushing for us to leave and it was with some surprise I noted the time was pressing 11pm before I said my thanks and farewells.