Monday 16th October 2017
The Mansion House
The Annual Banquet is the Master’s biggest night of the year. Planning and preparation is meticulous and our Learned Clerk works tirelessly to ensure the night is a success. I apologise to Sandra for the added pressure of holding my Banquet at Mansion House. This added a new layer of protocol and stress but Sandra took it all in her stride.
We arrived an hour before the guests to get familiar with the surroundings and ensure that we knew exactly where we needed to be and when. It also gave me the opportunity to spend a few minutes with toast master, Jamie Wallis. After photographs with my wardens and respective wives, we opened the doors and manned the receiving line. It was lovely to greet family, guests, visiting masters and fellow liverymen. Shortly after 7pm, there was a fanfare and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress arrived in the reception room. After more photographs, we were called to order and processed behind the Beadle into the Egyptian Room.
An email earlier in the day from our Honorary Chaplain informed me that Hurricane Ophelia and Michael O’Leary had conspired to detain him in Londonderry. Nevertheless, Canon David Parrott had penned a rhyming grace which I was delighted to deliver in his absence:
We meet tonight in this fine Hall
Tobacco Livery one and all
But, oh! Our Chaplain is not here;
The clerk thought that was very queer.
It seems he cannot say this prayer,
He’s been delayed by Ryanair.
He went to Londonderry town.
He set off home; the planes were down.
So, give God thanks for food and wine,
For our Lord Mayor with whom we dine,
And may my Chaplain be in place
Next time he’s due to say a grace!
The Mansion House catering team provided an excellent lamb dinner, delivered with faultless efficiency to almost 200 people. The London Banqueting Ensemble entertained us during dinner and the Lord Mayor encouraged audience participation in the form of hand clapping. After the loyal toast, the London Banqueting Ensemble performed their hilarious Post Horn Gallop.
The Lord Mayor responded to my toast with a speech full of humour, wit and confidence in London’s future, despite the uncertainties of Brexit. I had the pleasure of presenting the Lord Mayor with a cheque for £2,000 from our Benevolent Fund to his Appeal. Fourth Warden, Jerry Merton, introduced each of the official guests with in a very entertaining speech which culminated with a toast to our guests. My principal guest, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Smart responded on behalf of the guests with a speech that recalled the bravery and sacrifice of those fighting at Ypres exactly 100 years ago.
Sandra's meticulous planning was perfect and Toastmaster Jamie Wallis kept us on track. As the clock struck 10pm, our Beadle led me and the official guests out of the Egyptian Hall. It had been a triumphant evening which many of us continued at The Ned, across the road from Mansion House. At 1am, the Mistress and I hailed a cab and set off home to bed. What a Banquet!
My heartfelt thanks to Sandra and everyone who made it such a success.