May the 4th Be With You: Info Tech 25th Anniversary Banquet, Guildhall

Thursday 4th May 2017

This was an in joke that took me (and many other Masters) a long time to cotton on to.. apparently May 4th is commonly known as “Star Wars Day” and was why, when I pitched up at 6.15pm, I was met by a couple of Storm Troopers on the door… Coat deposited, I bounded up to the Great Hall via the Info Tech Master, Chris Histead and his Wardens (including the present Lady Mayoress) and joined a vast throng in white and black tie – the Company members all wear sashes of different hues to denote their levels and ranks which, with a Company of several hundred members, is probably a necessity. We enjoyed a lively champagne reception with the musketeers and pike men guarding us against the Imperial Guard (I suppose.. not sure it would be an even match!) before a pair of trumpeters sounded the call for dinner – there were over 700 of us dining and we’d been given A3 sheets to navigate our way so it took a while to A. get there and B. find your place – I was pleased to see PM Fiona Adler and consort David sitting on the Top Table opposite the Lord Mayor who was to grace us with his presence. I must confess that it was a little tight our end of the room, but at least we got to know one another very well by the end of the evening. There was a little moment of comedy when we were asked to sit and, having done so, asked to stand for the Master and Principal Guests, then asked to sit, then stand for grace.. well, it was all good practice! Dining off cured salmon with basil sorbet; rump of lamp (served rare!); cheese cake followed by a blue cheese savoury, we remained standing for the loyal toasts before enjoying a musical interlude – not the Imperial March from Star Wars, but the Post Horn Gallop played with great flare by members of the London Banqueting Ensemble who seemed to be able to hold notes longer than was humanely possible! The Lord Mayor then proposed the toast to the Company and his speech writers (presumably a youthful lot) had gone into Star Wars overdrive with every pun and quip defiantly exploited to the full – it was good fun! Master Chris responded cheerfully and introduced the Guest Speaker, Graham Turnock, CEO of the UK Space Agency which is presumably like the European one but with more tea. The Future was then proposed by Freeman Mark Harvey – as a modern Livery representing an area now so closely intertwined with all aspects of our daily lives and welfare that few would have foretold even when they were founded 25 years ago, I can only see it going from strength to strength – Lord knows what we’ll be doing with IT in another 25 years.. I’m not entirely sure I want to know but am equally sure we won’t have the choice! On the way out I was very pleased to bump into our “boys” – Liverymen Peter Rawlinson and Archie Smith, masquerading as Masters of their own Liveries, we looked too smart not to grab a snap, even if it was by the cloakroom! As it was the Master Furniture Makers’ last hurrah before his transition to the back benches, we agreed to sneak off for a pint and cigar at the local in King Street.. here, we became the toast of the pub for our get up and more pints were bought us by some likely London Lads – it was a little surreal.. escaping for a night-cap elsewhere, it was 3am before we bade farewell.. It was a grand evening – easily the largest I will have attended in my year and most impressive it was too, thank you Info Techs, and may your sabers ever be lighted..