Master’s Blog – September 2019

Lunch with High Court Judges at the Old Bailey is an invitation extended to all Masters of Livery Companies during the course of their year. The conversation gives an insight into the work of the Judges and the type of trials undertaken at the Central Criminal Court.. principally murder and terrorist offences. For their part one of the key questions they put to me was why sherry had declined so dramatically ?

Afterwards I was able to sit in on a trial and listen to the prosecution outlining the details of a murder case in meticulous detail. The ability to track conversations using text message on mobile phones is now clearly a key element in establishing a case.

The Worshipful Company of Fuellers organised a lecture on energy by the former  CEO of BP Tony Hayward. This was an Insightful speech about the importance of gas in our future energy supplies to keep the lights on until renewables become more established.

I visited Pam Orchard the CEO of the charity “The Connection at St Martin in the Fields” which supports those who are homeless or rough sleepers on the streets of London. This is the charity that I have chosen to support during my year as Master and her explanation of the work they do convinced me that this a worthy and deserving charity.

St Martin in the Fields, where our Founder is buried and which has an imposing memorial to him in the Crypt, has been concerned with helping the homeless in London since  the First World War.

Many servicemen returning from fighting at the Front were disorientated and in need of  support when finding themselves back in London. St Martin opened its doors to them then and has not closed them to the homeless ever since. Pam Orchard will attend our Founder’s Day event on October 8 where the cheque from the Company will be presented.

I attended a Reception for the Worshipful Company of International Bankers in Furniture Makers’ Hall in the City.  The International Bankers are a Modern Livery Company and the Mother Company of the current Lord Mayor.

The Court Meeting and Scottish Dinner both took place in the Signet Library in the heart of Edinburgh. A magnificent Georgian building constructed for the visit of King George IV who declared it to be “the finest drawing room in Europe”.

The guest speaker was Sir Roger Gifford, a previous Lord Mayor of London and of Scottish heritage, who spoke of his experience in Japan where he had lived for 6 years and entertained us in song! Robert Burns no less!

From there I travelled  to Schiedam in Holland with Past Masters Raines and Watling for the  annual Jenever Festival in the capital of Jenever.
I had the honour of being installed as a Knight of the Golden Glass, joining the elevated ranks of our two Past Masters in a ceremony complete with sword with which  to be dubbed as a Knight,  oath, a wax sealed certificate and wooden medal.

Much celebration ensued afterwards and the following day we walked on the red carpet through the picturesque town of canals working windmills and 17th century houses to open the Festival in a 16th century church. All manner of spirits were present!

The Worshipful Company of Farmers held a lunch in their Hall  to which many Masters and Clerks were invited. British food was celebrated and savoured.

The speaker presented the Master Farmer with a bottle of gin made from grains that had been cultivated “hands free” using only technology.

The Dean of St Paul’s held an autumn Evensong and Reception attended by many Liveries where we drank next to the tomb of Nelson and imbued his spirit.

The Sheriffs’ Ball held in the Guildhall is a relaxed and convivial event where the Distillers took a table this year. As Sheriff Vincent Keaveny, a Distiller, and Liz Green, the non-aldermanic Sheriff, were signing off after a most successful year for both of them, it was an opportunity for us all to thank them for their support, enthusiasm and hard work.

There were many Distillers dancing – especially to Whiskey in the Jar.

At the Worshipful Company of Actuaries lecture on inclusivity in the City and supper I was impressed to see they were serving a 1979 Castarède Armagnac as digestif.

I congratulated the Master and Clerk on their excellent choice. They promptly donated a bottle to the Worshipful Company of Distillers and signed the label. A fraternal gesture which was greatly appreciated. The Actuaries after all predict the future. Good news for Armagnac.

A gin tasting for the Mortar Platoon of A Company (London Scottish), our military affiliate, was undertaken by Nicholas Cook and greatly appreciated by the CO and Reservists.

The month ended with an opportunity to drive sheep over London Bridge which the Mistress and I enjoyed before joining the Pearly Kings and Queens of London for their annual Harvest Festival in Guildhall Yard.