Previous Master's Blog

  • Masters Dining Out
    Masters Dining Out

    Tuesday 4th June 2013

    By tradition the Master is dined out by his Wardens shortly before the Installation of his successor. the format of this has varied over the past ten years from a small pub dinner with just the Master and Wardens to wider affairs at a smart restaurant with wives and partners included. This year was a bit of both. We were able to fix the date as being the eve of Installation which allowed us to get into the 'Installation mood' early. The venue was the Pont de la Tour at Butler's Wharf on the South Bank. the food and wine were excellent and we were able to suitably thank Michael Prideaux for his outstanding year and particularly his generosity in providing the Livery with such an excellent provision of wines at all of our functions.

  • 'Jailed and Bailed'

    Wednesday 29th May 2013

    I was innocently enjoying the company of some twenty other Masters in one of the Mansion House drawing rooms when we were rudely interrupted by the tooting of Police Whistles. Sheriff Nigel Pullman was most put out as, one by one, we were 'arrested' on various charges. I pleaded guilty to smoking in the wrong place but reckoned that the additional charge of using a No Smoking sign as an ashtray definitely involved framing.

    After that, it was off to The Tower of London, plus ball and chain,in a vintage Police Bus complete with ashtrays. To the delight of the tourists, who presumably assumed they'd stumbled on some splendidly arcane daily ritual, we were escorted inside. The sponsorship by Pol Roger ensured that the time passed very pleasantly unitl we were relieved of our bail money and set free to re-offend. Some £38,000 was raised for the Red Cross, a fine example of the Livery Companies' ability to enjoy fellowship in a good cause.

    And, as I prepare to hand over the Mastership to my successor, John Nokes, that's really what it's about.

  • Master's Reception: Tour of the Four Organs in St. Paul's Cathedral

    Tuesday 28th May 2013

    How many people know that there are four organs in St. Paul's Cathedral? I would have guessed at two, so when Assistant Chris Allen suggested the tour for my Master's Reception, I was intrigued. Some 50 Liverymen and our guests were given a private tour by Simon Johnson, the organist at St.Paul's. We started with the Chamber Organ and progressed via the OBE Chapel Organ and the 'Willis on Wheels' to the Grand Organ itself. Simon talked about their different characteristics and played a piece on all of them.

    I've always been impressed by the sheer amount organists have to do. The Grand Organ has five keyboards and innumerable stops, not to mention the foot pedals mastered by Simon with the aid of ballroom dnacing shoes. The largest pipes are 32ft long and there are horizontal trumpet pipes above the West Door. Truly amazing.

    We left St.Paul's to the sound of bells and were brilliantly looked after by the Paternoster Chop house with delicious wines, substantial canapes and a well appointed outdoor smoking area for those of our hardy Members and Guests who felt like braving the weather, comforted by a little touch of Armagnac in the dusk.

  • Inter- Livery Clay Pigeon Shooting Competition

    Wednesday 22nd May 2013

    Well over 50 of the Livery Companies took part in this years event, some of them fielding more than one team. Our Livery put together a team consisting of Adam Bennett, Charles Miller, Arthur Richards and myself. I tried to set a suitably amateur and casual tone by telling the team, slightly apologetically, that I hadn't fired my gun since February (Rural Quantitative Easing in Spain), only for Arthur to gently respond that he hadn't shot for 20 years.

    We had great fun, making smoke and sometimes breaking clays. Charles contributed to the smoke by enjoying a fine cigar mid-morning and cutting a most distinctive figure as, I think, the only participant using a gun with hammers. It was good to be enjoying the fellowship of so many other Livery Companies, even if some of them showed signs of impressive natural talent, pre-event training, or both.

    Senior Warden John Nokes had kindly volunteered to shoot with his other Company, The Poulters, given that we already had a four but we joined him and his son, Alexander, for lunch and to listen to all the prizes being given to the Gunmakers. Their top scorer had 77 out of 80 and I take my smoking hat off to him.

  • Merchant Venturers Spring Banquet and Tour of Bristol

    Monday 20th May 2013

    Sue and I, accompanied by Paul Bethel, our Clerk, attended the Society of Merchant Venturers Spring Banquet at Merchants' Hall in Bristol on Friday May 17th. An away match in White Tie is always a bit of a challenge but I succeeded in remembering my studs and it was a most splendid occasion. We were magnificently wined and dined, with the Merchants setting the highest standard I've encountered during my year as Master. And, in the person of Sir Michael Rake, they had a forthright and trenchant speaker. We can all look forward to his tenure as President of the CBI.

    The next day we enjoyed a fine tour of Bristol, from the Promenade and Clifton Downs to the ss Great Britain and Professor Joe McGeehan's ground breaking Lab at the University of Bristol, where WIFI was invented. The prospect up and down the Avon Gorge from the Downs was wonderful, especially as we were most uncharacteristically blessed with good weather and certainly much better weather than the ss Great Britain must have had when she went round Cape Horn. She is much larger than I had expected, though the First Class bunks looked decidedly cramped, even if people were smaller then. How happy I am to be living today!

  • Sons of the Clergy Service at St. Paul's Cathedral.

    Tuesday 14th May 2013

    The Sons and Friends of the Clergy has been supporting the clergy of the Anglican Church and their dependents within the British Isles for over 350 years. Its origins therefore roughly coincide with the birth of the second Tobacco Livery Company.

    The service is one of the occasions during the year when the Livery Companies all process to their seats under the dome, entering in reverse order of precedence and leaving with the Great Twelve in their more familiar position. We enjoyed fine music and singing from the combined choirs of St Paul's itself, Norwich Cathedral and the Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum of Dean Close Preparatory School. The Bishop of Norwich preached movingly, based on his own father's experience, about prophets being not without honour, except in their home town. In a crowded field, this has to be one of Jesus's most universal truths.

    I amused myself by thinking of examples....

  • Fundraising for the City Music Foundation

    Monday 29th April 2013

    Sue and I were guests of British American Tobacco for a wonderful evening of opera at Stationers Hall, organised by Sheriff Nigel Pullman in aid of the Lord Mayor's Appeal and its main beneficiary, the new City Music Foundation. British American Tobacco were the principal sponsor of the evening, which succeeded in raising some £25,000 towards the Appeal.

    The singers came from Opera Holland Park and the National Opera Studio, itself supported for many years by British American Tobacco. For me the highlight was understandably a fine performance of the hit single from Carmen but there was also the pleasure of hearing Barnaby Rea again. He's a most talented young bass who sang after our Installation Court last year, when he was still at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. But in terms of a tenor with a back story, how many people know that the huge voice that brought the audience to its feet with the football aria from Turandot belongs to Henry Cooper's nephew? Neal Cooper has already been offered a role covering Parsifal in the Royal Opera House's 2013 production and he will be singing Melot in Tristan there in 2014. Both of them told me afterwards how much they owe to the National Opera Studio.

  • Smoking Club Reception

    Thursday 25th April 2013

    For the third year, British American Tobacco hosted the Membership Committee's Spring Smoking Club event at Globe House, in Temple Place, London. It has always been great fun but this year we were blessed with wonderful weather, making the allure of the smoking terrace even greater than usual. Kingsley Wheaton, British American Tobacco's Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Director welcomed us warmly, pointing out that the Group's performance is driven by its ability to meet the needs of its share of the adult smokers around the world, of whom there are over a billion.

    Simon Chase of Hunters & Frankau then introduced us most eloquently to the cigar he had chosen for the evening before the team from Whyte and Mackay explained quite how well the Malt Whisky they had selected would complement it. This proved most happily to be the case and the Livery Company's Membership Committee, ably led by Roger Brookes, puffed and partied well into the evening with their guests. Apart from British American Tobacco, there were representatives from Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, the Society of Young Freemen and Women in Tobacco. The Master Painter Stainer, Adlerman Gordon Haines, was a most welcome guest of Immediate Past Master, Fiona Adler.

  • Lord Mayor Big Curry Lunch

    Thursday 18th April 2013

    Paul Bethel and I attended on behalf of the Company. As one of the Livery Companies supporting the event, in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund, we were presented to HRH the Duke of Kent beforehand, when everyone was lined up in alphabetical order in the Print Room at Guildhall. HRH stuck to the task of talking to just about everey person and luckily we were under 'P' for Pipemaker rather then 'T' for Tobacco, so we didn't have quite so long to wait.

    Once inside the Library, it seemed right to take part in the Champagne draw and I was able to buy a glass for the Lord Mayor of Westminster as well as for the Lord Mayor. Angela Harvey, the Lord Mayor of Westminster, is an old friend and she has invited me to go and look at some of Westminster's tobacco related treasures, one of which has just been on loan to the Wallace Collection.

    We were also joined by Fran Morrison, Martine Petetin and Ann Tradigo, all of whom used to work with me at British American Tobacco and all of whom are in the process of taking up the Livery. Will this year have seen the series of Big Curry Lunches, started in 2008, pass through the £1 million mark in terms of sums raised?

  • London Regiment Pipe Maker's Shoot

    Tuesday 16th April 2013

    The Annual Shooting Match between our Livery and our affiliated Headquarter (ANZIO) Company of the London Regiment for the SIRRAH trophy. Much was at stake for us this year as we were defending the trophy and Assistant Charles Miller had taken over the Captaincy of our shooting team from Past Master Derek Harris, who established our link with the London Regiment in the first place, some 25 years ago.

    We mustered three teams of four and our new Captain fittingly managed our highest individual score. Fortunately, only the best eight counted, so my own pathetic performance didn't prevent us from holding on to the trophy. We then repaired to the bar and it was plain to see how both the Livery and the HQ Company appreciate the link between us. With everything that is expected of the Territorial Army today, it is more important than ever for us to support them.

    I'm sure the Livery will look forward to making more of the link. Next year sees the anniversary of Anzio....

  • Dedication of New Window at St. Lawrence Jewry

    Monday 15th April 2013

    The Ward of Cheap Club celebrated its 150th Anniversary (1863-2013) by installing a new window in St. Lawrence Jewry and the Masters and Prime Wardens of the Livery Companies who had supported the appeal, together with their Clerks, were invited to a service of celebration which encompassed the dedication of the new stained glass window. It is the work of Petri Anderson and its 150 year theme was emphasised by the floral display containing 150 carnations in colours to match the window. Ponder anew!

    The 150 theme was also echoed by three 150 word addresses from Alderman and Sheriff Jeffrey Evans, the Patron of the Ward Club, the Lord Mayor and the Archdeacon of London, David Meara. It's the kind of brief many other public speaking ocasions might benefit from. The assembled company did, however, shift a little uncomfortably in its collective seats when the Guild Vicar, our own dear David Parrott, suggested that he might honour the theme by preaching for 150 minutes.

    It's a fine window. Go and see it!

  • Service of Thanksgiving to Commemorate the Huguenots of Spitalfields

    Thursday 11th April 2013

    To the magnificent Church of Christ Church Spitalfields for this remarkable service, presided over by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, himself of Huguenot descent. He reminded us how completely integrated the Huguenots became, to their and our (the Prideaux having changed their name from Priday somewhat earlier to get on with the Normans) mutual benefit. Of course, one of the many things that the French and the English share is a sense of irony, so I enjoyed Bishop Chartres's historical annecdote about the group of Huguenot Hatters in Wandsworth who supplied the Cardinals in Rome.

    He also preached about the high cost of intolerance, to both the persecuted and their persecutors and rejoiced in the religious plurality we too easily take for granted. He pointed out, along the way, that the Labour Party owed far more to Methodism than Marxism and that, even at its transient peak, the British Communist Party managed fewer Members than the Lord's Day Observrance Society.

    I couldn't help wondering whether all the current sound and fury over immigration might have been much reduced had Huguenot-style integration become the norm.

  • Court Lunch with The Honourable Company of Master Mariners

    Wednesday 20th March 2013

    Maybe it was because we were on the only floating Livery Hall but for some reason, according to Captain John Freestone, Master Master Mariner, there were 35 Masters and Prime Wardens and 37 Clerks at the Lunch. On Budget Day, the long predicted increase in the rate of inflation may be beginning to work its way into the system.

    HQS Wellington, where we will hold our Installation Court and Lunch on Wednesday June 5th to take advantage of the good smoking facilities on the deck, has been at Temple Steps on the Victoria Embankment since December 1948. It's quite goose-bumpy to have lunch on a ship that escorted over 100 convoys and rescued hundreds of survivors in the Eastern Atlantic during the Second World War.

    Many Masters and Prime Wardens played a part in last year's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, but John topped them all by piloting The Spirit of Chartwell during the River Pageant with Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family on board.

  • Election Court and Lunch at Watermen's Hall

    Tuesday 19th March 2013

    The Court approved the succession of Senior Warden John Nokes to the role of Master, as well as a number of other appointments. Assistant Chris Allen will become Fourth Warden and Assistant Ralph Edmondson will join the GPC, with Adam Bennett and Conrad Blakey becoming Assistants and joining the Court.

    Fran Morrison and Tony Scanlan made their Freedom Declarations and it will be good to see them amongst the record number of people currently joining the Livery. Nothing demonstrates the vitality of a Company better than new Liverymen. We also approved the Applications for the Freedom (the first stage in joining the Livery) from Andrew Coates, Mark Domitrak and Flora Okereke.

    On a busy day for appointments, we gowned Paul Bethel, himself a Past Master of the Framework Knitters, as our new Clerk in place of Peter Swanson, who is retiring.

    During the Court, Sue led a group of ladies and Immediate Past Master Fiona Adler's husband, Davd Moss, on a guided tour of the Crown Jewels. They didn't succeed in augmenting the Company's treasures but had a good time despite the cold.

  • United Guilds Service, St Paul's Cathedral

    Friday 15th March 2013

    How many other times in my life will I sit in St Paul's Cathedral twice in three days? The origins of this service are quite recent in City terms as, at a meeting of the Masters and Prime Wradens of the Great Twelve (them again), held at Goldsmiths' Hall (my other Livery Company) in February 1943, it was decided to hold a Service to help lift the spirats of the City following the Blitz. Who can forget that iconic wartime photograph of the dome of St Paul's after an air raid?

    After the Service, our Company's representatives repaired to Painters Hall, where all the Companies lunching there were slauted in a splendid speech by the Master Painter, each being likened to different trees in Epping Forest. We were linked to Charles Dickens's Oak, because of the great man's fondness for tobacco. Each Company, on being greeted, was invited to 'wave its branches' in acknowledgement. Liveryman David Moss and I did so, supplementing our gestures with a couple of (unlit) cigars.

    In past years, we've not been well represented at the UGS and the lunch, so it was wonderful to have been part of a group of a dozen. Next year's service is on Friday April 4th 2014 at 11:15 at St. Paul's.

  • Mansion House Dinner

    Thursday 14th March 2013

    On the Eve of the United Guilds Service, the Lord Mayor entertained the Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff of the Livery Companies of the City of London to dinner at Mansion House. Prior to 1869, the Lord Mayor only extended the invitation to the heads of the Great Twelve Livery Companies but now the Egyptian Hall is entirely full and, showing my Modern Company colours, somewhat livelier. The occasion is an opportunity for the Lord Mayor to celebrate his friendship and partnership with the Livery Companies and to return some of the hospitality shown to him during his year in office. (The previous Lord Mayor attended our Ladies Banquet at Mansion House last November.)

    The Lord Mayor spoke most forcefully of the need for the City to serve society and also of the need for the Livery Companies to demonstrate their continuing relevance. Thoughtful replies came from the Master Mercer and the Master Grocer, the latter's Company having replied to the Lord Mayor at the event since 1728.

    Sue and I returned home with the sounds of the State Trumpeters' fanfares literally ringing in our ears as we were sitting only a few trumpet's lengths from them. An evening to treasure.

  • Vintners' Company 650th Birthday

    Thursday 14th March 2013

    Yesterday's Evansong at St Paul's Cathedral was attended by the Worshipful Company of Vintners and their guests on the occasion of the 650th anniversary of the Company's first Royal Charter. The guests included Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and just about every Master or Prime Warden. Needless to say, the New Testament Lesson was the wedding at Cana and I couldn't help thinking that things might have turned out very differently for the Vintners had anyone other than Our Lord been able to turn water into wine.

    The Bishop of London (himself an Honorary Vintner) preached persuasively in fovour of wine taken in moderation and told us that the only non-Baronial signatory to Magna Carta was a Vintner. The reception afterwards echoed to the customary Vintners' Five Cheers for the Master and, as we left, the television screens in the Grange St Paul's Hotel were announcing the election of a new Pope. When I had filled in my Gift Aid envelope earlier in the Cathedral, I had noticed that the date (13/3/13) might be one on which something might happen....

  • Modern Companies Spring Dinner

    Tuesday 12th March 2013

    The Modern Livery Companies, basically those founded or, in our case, re-established since the Second World War dine together twice a year and last night we were all at the Worshipful Company of Insurers. There was nothing spring-like about the conditions as we hurried into the warmth of Insurance Hall in Aldermanbury, right behind the Guildhall. The Host Master, Rick Hudson, presided most genially, despite the event clashing with his wife's significant birthday.

    Our speaker was Sheriff Nigel Pullman, a most appropriate choice given the role he played, when Clerk of the World Traders, in promoting the idea of the Modern Companies getting together. With his background, Royal Corps of Signals and Financial Times, he's long been a determinded advocate of better communications between livery companies and by the livery movement as a whole. The Judges at the Old Bailey and the Lord Mayor can feel very well supported by him, unlike the Sheriff's stockings. But that's another story!

  • Wet 10 Water Debate

    Monday 4th March 2013

    Our Livery is a member of the Wet 10 (actually now the Wet 13) group of Livery Companies, who share a common concern for the long term health of the water environment. The debate was chaired bt Colin Drummonfdof the Water Conservators and the eminent princial speakers were John Hirst, the Chief Executive of the Met Office and Paul Leinster, his counterpart at the Environment Agency. The topicality of the subject after the apparent extremes of 2012 attracted over 130 people, including Sheriff Nigel Pullman and some ten Masters. Our Immediate Past Master, Fiona Adler, played a key role in organising the event.

    From the Met Office, we heard encouragingly that their 5 day forecast in th UK is now as good as their daily forecast was 40 years ago and that we can continue to expect the Gulf Stream to provide us with a more favourable climate than an island at our latitude has any right to expect. Less happy was the comment that long term thinning of the arctic ice may cause the jetstream to wander about more, as it did last year. And, thinking about last year,the Environment Agency concluded by wondering whether we would be looking back on it in 25 years time as a dry one or a wet one.....

  • Inter Livery Pancake Race in Guildhall Yard on Shrove Tuesday

    Wednesday 13th February 2013

    Congratulations to Fourth Warden Arthur Richards who represented the Company, the Master having decided that he was better placed as a sponsor than as a runner. Cheered on by the Clerk, Arthur was the fastest of the Masters and Wardens attempting to qualify for next year's full race and then third in the Victor Ludorum for the winners in each category.

    Whether there was any use of snuff as a stimulant remains a closely guarded secret.

  • January Court and Dinner

    Sunday 27th January 2013

    Our January Court and Dinner took place at Saddlers Hall on January 23rd, the first January Dinner to benefit from our new policy of being free to take our Members and their Guests wherever the Master chooses. This also enables us to select halls with good outdoor smoking facilities, something appreciated by our smoking members, even in the depths of winter.

    The principal guests were John Noble of the British Brands Group, who spoke about the threat to other categories that was all too likely to follow should plain packaging be introduced for tobacco products, and HE the Cuban Ambassador. Her Excellency took notes on the Loving Cup ceremony and, with any luck, the Cuban version will have a mojito in it.

    The toast to the Guests was beautifully proposed by Assistant Alan Porter and we were splendly looked after by the staff and caterers at Saddlers, the whole evening being magnificently rounded off by a stunning Post-Horn Gallop from the Salon Orchestra of the London Banqueting Ensemble under the direction of Steve Fletcher.

    A great start to the year, full of the good fellowship inherent in tobacco, as we welcomed three new Freemen and three new Liverymen.

  • Festival of Saint Cecilia, St Paul's Cathedral

    Wednesday 21st November 2012

    Since 1946, The Festival of Saint Cecilia, the Patron Saint of Music, has been the Flagship Event of the Musicians Benevolent Fund. The service is held in rotation at St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminter Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, with the choirs from each of them singing together. I had the honour of processing with the other Livery ompanies and was supported by the Mistress and our Clerk.

    This year's Festival theme was the celebration of HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and an anthem was commissioned for the three choirs, as is the case each year. The address was given by the composer Will Todd, who wrote the anthem for the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's in June. He spoke simply and directly about the inspirations that enabled him to compose it and the sheer wonder of hearing a new piece of music for the first time.

    Pride of place must go to the music in the service but the real thrill for me was hearing Sir Willard White's majestic bass voice reading the first lesson. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa didn't do badly with the second one either!

  • Lord Mayor's Briefing to Masters and Clerks

    Wednesday 14th November 2012

    To the Mansion House for the annual briefing of the Livery Companies by the new Lord Mayor, Alderman Roger Gifford. In setting out his aims for the year ahead, he commented that, as the first banker to have become Lord Mayor for a while, he wanted to make it absolutely clear that he regarded proper banking as a socially useful activity. Hence his theme of 'The City in Society'. I expect he'll be very active in promoting the City.

    He also spoke about his hope that the Livery Companies would take steps to build up their capital, to secure their future philanthropic firepower. More details will be with us shortly but the basic idea is that all new, and hopefully many existing, liverymen will sign a legacy form in favour of their Companies, even if it's initally for as little as £1, thus making a long term commitment to their Livery Company's Charitable Funds. The working title is the London Livery Legacy. It's a great idea and I very much hope that our Court will support it.

    The charities that will benefit from th Lord Mayor's Appeal are The City Music Foundation, giving new opportunities to professional musicians in the early stages of their careers, Futures for Kids, Gifford Wood Appeal, extending Epping Forest, and The Harold Samuel Collection, for the maintenance and conservation of the wonderful Dutch and Flemmish paintings that hang in the Mansion House.

  • The 2012 Lord Mayor's Show

    Saturday 10th November 2012

    Wardens Mark Gower-Smith, Arthur Richards and I represented the Company, amongst the other Modern Companies, in this year's show. Fortunately, the weather wasn't as bad as predicted. This doesn't matter much once you start walking but you have to hang around for at least an hour and a half before you get going. This year, we opted for gowns and smoking hats rather than fancy dress because I was due to form part of the Honour Guard for the return of the Lord Mayor to Mansion House and he might have been surprised to have been greeted by Sherlock Holmes!

    This also meant that I left the procession half way up Fleet Street and, coincidentally, just at the point when David Spackman from EL Vino produced a welcome glass of Macon for each of us. (Mine was actually pinched by a member of one of the other companies who thought it was a general arrangement rather than something I'd organised.)

    The Mistress and I watched the return procession from Mansion House before the Honour Guard of Aldermen and Masters saw the Lord Mayor safely home and a delicious and wonderfully warm lunch was served.

  • The Silent Ceremony

    Friday 9th November 2012

    To Guildhall for the 'Silent Ceremony', so called because the admission of the new Lord Mayor takes place entirely in silence, apart from the short declaration that he makes. With lights lowered, the echoing footsteps of the procession were especially atmospheric and the audience was undisturbed by any chirrups form mobile phones. The outgoing Lord Mayor removed his hat, the incoming Lord Mayor put his own hat on and the symbols of office, the Sceptre, the Sword, the Seal and the Purse were solemnly transferred. The Lord Mayor was then congratulated individually and still silently by the Aldermen. Recorder, Sheriffs, Officers, the Chief Commoner and the members of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs' Committee.

    Then the procession, with Alderman Roger Gifford now the 685th holder of an office that dates back to 1189, left Guildhall with the silence majestically broken by a trumpet fanfare and the peal of bells from St. Lawrence Jewry. Maybe, in a noisy world, it would be better if more things happened in silence.

  • Annual Banquet at the Mansion House

    Monday 5th November 2012

    The Mistress and I had the great privilege of welcoming our guests and their ladies to Mansion House for the flagship event of our year. The Clerk's careful planning paid off and we all had a memorable evening in the company of The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor, Adderman David Wooton and the Lady Mayoress, Liz, both of whom were stylishly serenaded in a most accomplished grace by our Honorary Chaplain, the Revd Canon David Parrot. The Lord Mayor was accompanied by the Sheriffs and their Ladies.

    Assistant Chris Allen proposed the health of our distinguished guests with fitting eloquence. They included the guest speaker, Sir Martin Broughton, formerly Chairman of British American Tobacco, the Masters of The Society of Merchant Venturers and the Cutlers in Hallamshire and the Commanding Officer, The London Regiment and the Rev Jonathan Woodhouse QHC, Chaplain General.

    Sir Martin spoke brilliantly, reflecting on the ironies inherent in a career in the tobacco business and especially on the threat from that alternative livery outfit, the Unworshipful Company of Smugglers.

    A fine evening was well rounded off by some lovely music from the Blossom Street Singers.

  • Opening of Garden of Remembrance, St. Paul's Cathedral

    Monday 5th November 2012

    The Clerk and I managed a swift bacon butty before assembling with the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and the other Livery Companies in the Garden on the North Side of St. Paul's Cathedral for the service to open the Royal British Legion's Garden of Remembrance. Fortunately, it was fine and sunny, so there was nothing sinister in all the Clerks being under the shelter of a fine plane tree (still almost in full leaf), while the Masters were out in the open. After singing 'O God our help in ages past' and 'O valiant hearts, who to your glory came', the Last Post was played perfectly by a bugler form the band of the Irish Guards.

    It was very moving to be in the shadow of St.Paul's for The Exhortation with its everlasting response: 'We will remember them', especially when soldiers of the London Regiment, which our Livery supports have just returned from an attatchment to the Grenadier Guards on actve service in Afganistan. Sadly, they have taken casualties, some serious, and my thoughts were very much with their families as I planted my cross.

  • Musicians Company Evensong

    Wednesday 3rd October 2012

    To St. Paul's Cathedral for Evensong attended by the Worshipful Company of Musicians, accompanied by the Mistress and Mark Gower-Smith, Third Warden. We put on our gowns and Livery Badges in the Crypt and then had the pleasure of processing into the Cathedral itself with all the other Livery Companies present. Unlike the entry to St Lawrence Jewry earlier in the week, the first were first. It was a great privilege to sit right under the dome for Evensong and be calmed by the organ and the singing.

    The Livery were in good voice but fortunately the Choir did most of the heavy lifting and we also had the benefit of The Royal College of Music String Orchestra, who played Elgar's Elegy for Strings in memory of the members of the Livery Guild who died in the past year.

    Two of Wren's finest buildings in one week!

  • Election of Lord Mayor

    Monday 1st October 2012

    First, the assembled company of Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiffs progressed rather biblically (the last being first) acros Guildhall Yard to St Lawrence Jewry for the service before the Election. It was taken by Cannon David Parrott in his guise as Guild Vicar, though I hope that by now he's equally familiar to readers of this Blog as the Chaplain to our Livery. David had written some new (to me) words specifically relevant to the City to the tune of 'Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer'. They were lustily sung and he is truly a man of many talents.

    Then back to Guildhall in a more secular order (the first being first) for the Election which saw Alderman Roger Gifford duly become Lord Mayor Elect in a majestic and historic ceremony. Her certainly ticks a lot of my personal boxes, believing that the creative industries are the UK's second most important after financial services and being the sponsoring Alderman for the Guild of Public Relations Practitioners.

    Two Members of our Company, Carol Hughes-Mack and Paul Woodley then joined me for lunch at Stationers Hall, though it took so long to retrieve anything left in th Guildhall Cloakroom that tea, for a while, looked a more realistic prospect.

  • Inter Livery Halls Sponsored Walk

    Thursday 20th September 2012

    Ron Kirk, the Renter Warden, and I joined the Sponsored Walk visiting all 40 Livery Halls in the City, organised for the seventh year by the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners. We were told before setting off from Armourers and Braziers Hall that the distance to be covered was 8.3 miles but by the finish at Grocers Hall a claim of over ten miles measured by some digital device was lodged.

    We were a party of 44 and made a fine sight in our gowns, much to the delight of sundry tourists along the way. We were well refreshed by the Information Technologists, Drapers, Vintners, Master Mariners and Grocers, while a most welcome lunch was kindly provided at Bakers Hall, still intact despite the price of wheat.

  • Lunch with the Farmers Company

    Wednesday 19th September 2012

    Peter Swanson, our Clerk, and I represented the Company at Lunch with the Farmers Company in The Farmers Fletchers' Hall which, appropriately enough is on the edge of Smithfield Market. The excellent beef we ate had had not had far to come.

    The Master Farmer, Peter Faulkner, told us that, with wheat at £220 a tonne, he was much looking forward to dining at Bakers Hall. His guest speaker was a most impressive young farmer who had just been sponsored by the Company for a Nuffield Farming Scholarship. This had enabled him to visit 70 different businesses in a whole range of countries. It had been a huge help in figuring out how to grow his business (poultry) from a local niche to an enterprise of national scale, while capturing more of the margin for himself at the expense of the middle-man.

    Food for thought!

  • Modern Companies Dinner

    Thursday 13th September 2012

    John Nokes, Senior Warden and I represented the Company the Autumn Modern Companies Dinner at Staple Inn Hall, where we were guests of the Worshipful Company of Actuaries and their Master, Bill Smith. He told us that Staple Inn, right on the boundary of the City on High Holborn, derived its name from the place where goods destined for the City had to be 'stapled' before they could be sold. In front of him, as he spoke, was a magnificent hour glass containing enough sand to run for two hours and forty minutes, the theory being that dinners should be completed before the actuarial sands of time had run their course. I am happy to report that last night's company complied.

    The Guest Speaker was Alderman and Sheriff Elect Jeffrey Evans, who paid tribute to the vitality that the Modern Companies, numbering over 30 in all, contribute to the Livery. We are a relatively old Modern Company and fourth on the list, having been re-established in 1954. This means that we can start to look forward to our very own Diamond Jubilee in 2014.

  • Autumn Court and Dinner at Boisdale, Canary Wharf

    Monday 10th September 2012

    We held our Autumn Court Meeting at Glaziers Hall with a crowded Agenda covering a wide range of subjects. In particular, we acknowledged our Clerk, Peter Swanson's, decision to step down next June and discussed the procedure for recruiting his successor. The Court approved the combination of the roles of Clerk to the Company and Secretary to the Benevolent Fund. We also witnessed the Freedom Declarations of Nicola Snook and Terry Fenner-Letao and gowned Nick Keveth with the Livery. It's always a special pleasure, as Master, to be able to welcome new Members.

    Afterwards, we adjourned to Boisdale in Canary Wharf in order to avail ourselves of its excellent smoking balcony after dinner. A convivial evening was therefore rounded off in a manner entirely suttable to the Company. I enjoyed a very good Romeo y Julieta!

  • Pipe Makers Trophy at Arundel Castle Cricket Club

    Thursday 2nd August 2012

    To the stunning Arundel Castle Cricket Ground to watch teams of Under 15 cricketers representing South London and North London contest the Pipe Makers Trophy in a 40 Over Match. The setting, as fellow Liveryman Neil Withington observed, was worthy of an Olympic Opening Ceremony and the game itself was keenly fought too.

    South chose to bat and, assisted mightily by a score of 115 by Charlie Neve, reached 281 for 9, a total which had the Wisdens of Arundel, Johnny Barclay and Alan Wadey, muttering about possible records. North London had their moments but probably had to take too many risks in chasing such a huge target and were all out for 193. In an entirely appropriate sporting gesture, they were then allowed to deploy their twelfth man, who was able to take the score to over 200.

    I presented medals to both teams and Johnny Barclay kindly produced a beautiful bat for the man of the match, Charlie Neve. The Pimms prevented me from recording whether he was the batsman responsible for the prize dent in the bonnet of Past Master Roger Merton's car.