The Tobacco Trades Lunch at Lords

Wednesday 10th June 2015

My first week as Master has turned out to be a busy one. After enjoying the hospitality of the Plumbers at the Temple, the next day it was off to the 51st AITS lunch to present the prize for the best retailer of the year. This lunch was formerly known as the Pipesmoker of the Year lunch and was held at the Savoy for 39 years. Previous winners included Rubert Davies (Maigret), Harold Wilson, Tony Benn and last of all before it was discontinued due to tobacco promotion regulations, Stephen Fry. Under a different name the lunch continued and now takes place at Lords. Our Company has the honour of presenting the prize to the best retailer chosen from names submitted by the trade. Past Master Roger Merton is the driving force behind the organisation and he guided me through the sheaf of applications as we made our choice, this year it goes to Stephen Johnstone for his shop in Cambridge. A very enjoyable lunch made more so by sitting next to the guest speaker Phil Tufnell who was extremely entertaining, I can't repeat his jokes here, for a number of reasons not least because I can't remember them but he had the audience in stitches for half an hour. I introduced him to snuff. He wasn't at all certain about it but he stepped up to the wicket like a true sportsman and sneezed loudly. Thanks to Roger for such a well organised day.