Lunch at the Old Bailey

Monday 22nd May 2017

The Sheriffs are kind enough to invite Livery Masters and other guests on a rotation basis to the daily Judges lunch in the Old Bailey. It was my happy task to accept Alderman and Sheriff William Russells invitation to todays and presented myself at the Judges entrance at 12.30 as requested, along with George Harris, Master Poulter (who caught me parking at Stationer's Hall) and William's half-brother, the actor Damian Lewis who had taken time from his West End run of The Goat at the Theatre Royal Haymarket to join us. Alas, it didn't seem appropriate to take photographs so these are off the web to give an idea.. We met in Williams suite - which happened to be Fiona Adlers old one so I'd seen it once before - for a glass of champagne served by William in full shrival fig. Recent rules changes mean that this was the only sauce we were likely to see as wine is now banned from Judges lunches - yes, the boring modern world getting in the way, again I'm afraid.. I don't think we'll be happy until we're housed in containers and fed intravenously, but that's for the future. We filed into the dining room (used by PM Mark Gower Smith for his Masters Reception if members recall) and I sat between a The Hon Mrs Justice Maura McGowan and His Hon Judge Michael Topolski - all the Judges had just left their bences and so were gowned in either red or black and all wore their horse hair wigs (apparently full bottom wigs are no longer used in Court which is a shame). We dined on a grilled chicken and artichoke salad and lemon posset followed by cheese and coffee, all very pleasant. Just before 2pm (these lunches are an hour, no more no less) we all left and four guests (not Damian) visited Court 18 for a murder trial where the accused was being cross-examined, rather tamely in my view, but I suppose we're used to Rumpole etc. After an hour and with the jury visibly bored ridged, we broke and George and I broke away. It was all most interesting, thank you William.