Saturday 14th September 2019
After a quiet August the blogger is back!
The Modern Companies' Dinner in Furniture Makers Hall was a splendid event which brought together a group of Livery Companies which works so well together and which shares so many common objectives. The feeling of fellowship was palpable. The same week I returned to the same hall for the farewell drinks of Mark Sismey-Durrant, Master of the International Bankers - I am sad to see him go; he has been an excellent Master. I suspect that for us all our year as Master is over all too soon!
An early start on HQS Wellington soon followed to herald the Livery Companies Walk, brilliantly organised by the Environmental Cleaners. At some 10 miles, with visits to 38 halls this was an amazing way to see the historic heart and variety of so many Companies, as well as a few surprises- I was, for example, unaware of the existence of the beautiful Dutch Church in our midst. Thank you to PM Ralph Edmonson for joining me in this epic adventure!
The week then finished with a further highlight - the Hackney Carriage Drivers' Big Breakfast. At 6am we gathered at Canary Wharf to see 400 children and their families in 100 taxis leave with great fanfare for a trip to Disneyland Paris. It was an upbeat and moving, yet fun occasion which made me smile all day long! I am proud that our Company is associated with and a sponsor of this top event. It was a pleasure to see PM Michael Walter in such fine form and to hear that every child had received one of his marvellous books.
Monday 15th July 2019
The Mistress and I had great pleasure in joining a group of Livery Companies for a tour of the Houses of Parliament. This was brilliantly organised by Ian and Julia Grundy, the Master and Mistress Framework Knitter.
The tour began in the Great Hall and moved through the Lords and the Queen's apartments. Champagne on the terrace overlooking the Thames was followed by a super lunch. Afterwards, we were able to sit in on the afternoon session of the Lords-as a result I am now up to date with the lack of rural post offices! One lonely figure awaited us as we left- a statue of Cromwell surrounded by scaffolding. Our thanks to the Framework Knitters and to Baroness Byford for making this all happen.
The Mistress was then able to escape from my company to a fantastic event kindly hosted by the Mistress Arbitrator at the Royal Courts of Justice....but that is for her to blog. My only observation is that there is some similarity in the architecture of the two buildings...
Sunday 7th July 2019
Fresh from the resounding harmonies of the choir at Temple Church I fell to earth. Indeed, I was summoned to the Old Bailey early in the week. In a packed Court Room full of my fellow Masters we were individually and collectively tried by the Sheriffs and found guilty of ludicrous charges! We were then given a ball and chain and sent down by bus to the Tower of London, to be booed by tourists and held until sufficient bail monies were raised.
I must say, I was a little surprised by my main offence- my failure to have my car washed more than once a year!? Oddly, only the Mistress could have known this (!) and I was a little hurt (in confidence) to hear that the Mistress had written to the Court to ask for the longest possible jail term for me!
The good news was that over £40,000 in total was raised for the British Red Cross. My sincere thanks to all of you who were so generous in providing my bail for me. Also, to be candid, jail conditions were less than harsh and the event's sponsor, Pol Roger, ensured that we did not die of dehydration.
Midweek, the Mistress, Clerk and I "walked the course" for our 400th Banquet, to be held on October 15th in the beautiful Mercers' Hall. It promises to be a fine occasion and I hope many from the Company will attend.
The week was then completed with a fabulous Smoking Club outdoor event at the Rosewood Hotel. The Membership Committee arranged everything perfectly- an excellent location, some delicious wine and canapes and for those who wished, a puff or two on a Cuban cigar. It was also a very strong and friendly turnout of both new and old faces. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Sunday 30th June 2019
On a swelteringly hot day I attended Guildhall for the contested election of Sheriffs. Gowned in the Crypt with the help of the Clerk and the Beadle I then processed into Common Hall with other Masters. It was a great moment of pomp and tradition. All contestants for office were most impressive but Michael Mainelli and Chris Hayward won the day and we offer them both our warm congratulations. Common Hall was followed by an excellent lunch with Company members at Stationers' Hall.
It was then a week for last minute preparations and nerves for our 400th Celebration! After a year of careful planning everything was prepared and fingers were crossed. An early piece of good news was that Cedric, our amazing snuff mull, was to return in time for it from his restoration, thanks to the generosity of PM Roger Brookes and the logistical wizardry of PM Charles Miller.
What we could not control was the weather....it had been an awful June of heavy rain followed by excessive heat. However, on June 27th the skies cleared for a warm, sunny day. The auspices were good! What followed was, for me, a truly memorable event which celebrated our small Company with a loud and hearty voice in the company of so many friends from across the City and Livery Movement.
Indeed, the Choral Evensong at The Temple Church, so brilliantly arranged by PM Mark Gower-Smith and the Chaplain was just perfect...it made me cry at one point! This was followed by a reception at Middle Temple Hall with musicians from the Royal Academy, an exhibition of Company Treasures, amazing cigars provided so kindly by Hunter and Frankau, and a witty and informative speech by Professor Jonathan Phillips. All together it was great fun and i hope very much that everyone enjoyed themselves!
May I take this opportunity to again thank everyone involved in the arrangement of this important celebration. In particular, my thanks go to our Clerk, Sandra Stocker and to fellow members of the 400th Committee, without whom nothing would have been possible.
Sunday 23rd June 2019
This week the Mistress and I joined the Clerk and the Clerk's Assistant at a magical meeting of the Highlands and London. Courtesy of Brigadier Alistair Bruce of Crionaich, the summer Party of the London Regiment was a well attended, ear-drum testing event!
It's also been a week for finalising the details for the 400th next week - we very much look forward to seeing many of you at Temple Church next Thursday! Company bow ties are most welcome - if you are lucky enough to have one!
Yesterday, I also had the pleasure of a very fine luncheon at Drapers' Hall. For me, it is a memorable place for two main reasons: the Hall is one of the finest in the City, and, secondly, it is also the location of our annual trouncing in the Inter-Livery Bridge Competition! Hosted by Master Draper Philip Ogden it was another fine and fun occasion. At its conclusion we ventured into the garden and I was able to enjoy the company of Father Andrew Moughtin-Mumby and Assistant Tom Harris, both of whom were keen to test the Company's snuff!
Sunday 16th June 2019
It has been a busy few days for the Mistress and for me!
After my Installation at Vintners' Hall we headed to a very wet Ironbridge. Some 100 companies attended over three days of events. The highlight was a trip to the Broseley Pipe Museum where Dylan Lucas gave us a personal tour. Off the beaten track, it is an exceptional and atmospheric time capsule of a period when clay pipes from Britain reached all corners of the world. In the small Quaker cemetery next to it also lies Abraham Darby, the English ironmaster who played such a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution.
The rain then followed us to Tandridge where I had the great pleasure of presenting the prizes at the Company's annual Golf Day, so expertly organised by Past Master Derek Harris. It was great fun and I am still digesting the famous Tandridge Pudding served at lunch!
The rain finally abated for the well attended The Tobacco Trade Sponsored Charity Lunch at Lord's. Past Master Roger Merton's attention to detail meant we had an amazing time, starting with an outdoor champagne reception. The big surprise was a delicious lunch served in the Long Room, surrounded by all that is holy in the world of cricket, followed by an entertaining speech by Henry Blofeld. It doesn't get better than that! I also had pleasure in presenting Gauntley's of Nottingham with their well deserved prize of Retailer of the Year.