Master’s Blog – November 2019

The month began with the Glass Sellers Mansion House Banquet to which the Mistress and I were invited. A splendid evening where the Master’s guests were accompanied by a brass band playing “Bring Me Sunshine“ on entering the Egyptian Hall.

The week of Remembrance began on Monday 4 November with a service in the garden behind St Paul’s Cathedral. Each Master placed a cross in the field of remembrance on behalf of his or her Company.  The Lord Mayor and Sheriffs were present and the band of the Grenadier Guards accompanied us. The Last Post was sounded and a 2 minute silence observed at 11.00 am as the great bell of the Cathedral tolled. 

In the evening there was a Service of Thanksgiving at St Stephen Walbrook for the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress in recognition of their year of service to the City. This was followed by a reception in the magnificent Wren church with its contemporary round altar. The Church where the Samaritans were founded in 1953.

The following day we had our Joint Event with the Worshipful Company of Marketors held in the Crane  Building in Southwark. The theme was “Alchemy … are we Distillers and Marketors the Alchemists of today ?“

We both take core ingredients – in our case grain or grape and through the magic and mystery of distilling produce exquisite spirit drinks … and Marketors take brands and add value to them thorough original creative ideas and targeted communication.

The guest panel to discuss this was chaired by David Wethey whom I have known for 30 years and is very well known in the marketing and advertising world, having written several business books.

The panel included Diageo Corporate  Freeman Mark Sandys, Global Brand Director for Smirnoff and Baileys, who also very generously provided the Tanqueray Gin and tonic bar for the event. Also Anthony Wilson, a Liveryman who owns a new product development company with the appropriate name of Alkemista.

Andrew Marsden, Past Master Marketor and marketing consultant with a lifetime career in marketing, and Rory Sutherland, Vice President of Ogilvy UK and a well known journalist and author, completed the panel.

The event was sold out and the reception afterwards was an opportunity to talk to each of the panellists. We had a very good presence of our Liverymen and feedback has been positive from attendees from both Companies. We are talking to the Marketors about the possibility of holding a similar event next year.

Later that week I was invited with several other members of our Livery to the Mappin and Webb Royal Household Dinner in Vintners’ Hall. Mappin and Webb are one of our Corporate Associates.

Mark Appleby, Master Craftsman, who was installed as Corporate Freeman at the November 21 Court meeting, is the Crown Jeweller to HM The Queen.  He joins Corporate Freeman Karl Bailey who is Royal Warrant Holder for the Company.

That dinner had been preceded by a Reception at the House of Lords hosted by Helena Conibear and the Alcohol Education Trust celebrating their 10th anniversary.  This is one of the Charities which we support and the Livery was thanked for our continuing commitment and contribution.

The following day was the Silent Ceremony  at the Guildhall. The new Lord Mayor, William Russell, and his entourage were greeted by the assembled  Masters, Aldermen and Liverymen in total silence. The only words spoken were his, when he swore his oath.

The following day was the Lord Mayor’s Show and the Mistress and I had a bird’s eye view from the stand outside St Paul’s Cathedral. Over 100 floats and groups formed the parade with marching bands, military units and representatives of European Guilds.  The Lord Mayor’s coach stopped outside the Cathedral where he stepped outside with the Sword and Mace Bearers and entered the Cathedral by a side door to swear before God.

Following this I had been invited to join the Guard of Honour outside the Mansion House to greet the Lord Mayor on his return from the Royal Courts of Justice. We lined up and the new Lord Mayor descended from his lavishly decorated coach and inspected this line removing his tricorn hat to greet the Masters.

All Masters in the Guard of Honour returned the compliment by doffing their caps to the Lord Mayor. There was one exception.  The Master Distiller. We do not have a cap as part of our formal Livery dress and appear to be unique in this regard. I have discussed this with the Court and I intend to work on a proposal as IPM so that future Masters can doff their caps at appropriate occasions … and not simply nod as I was obliged to
do !

The Mistress and I attended lunch at the Mansion House afterwards and spoke to Alderman Vincent Keaveny who was Sheriff until September this year and is on track to become Lord Mayor in November 2020.

Vincent is an Honorary Liveryman in our Company. If elected as Lord Mayor he will be the first Distiller to do so since 1813 when George Scholey served as Lord Mayor. That is before the Battle of Waterloo in 1815!

The following day is Remembrance Sunday and the Masters of all Livery Companies are invited to attend the Service of Remembrance at St Paul’s and to attend the wreath laying on behalf of all Liveries at the Cenotaph in front of the Royal Exchange.

That privilege is given to the Master Fruiterer as he organised the first official attendance at the service and wreath laying last year on the anniversary of the end of the Great War. This is the second year and the intention is that the tradition will be maintained. It was followed by a lunch at the Guildhall.

Later that week I went to the city of Louvain in Belgium where the Mistress and I were to spend two days in the Company of the Belgian/Swiss Squadron of the Mousquetaires d’Armagnac. It is a lively university city full of medieval buildings and bicycles. Several lavish dinners and receptions were held there before we moved to Brussels for the official grand dinner at the splendid Art Deco hotel La Plaza.

There Leaders of different Squadrons from around the world were present for the installation of 9 new Mousquetaires and a grand dinner was followed by dancing, extensive tasting of Armagnacs and a beer bar serving excellent Belgian beer to be savoured between Armagnacs.

The event finished at 4.00 am but fortunately we didn’t have far to go as we were staying in the same hotel.

The following week there was an important meeting with the Development Director and the Master Elect. This was an opportunity for us to review the projects that the Development Director had undertaken since his appointment earlier in the year.

The Service of St Cecilia, the patron saint of Musicians, took place this year in Westminster Abbey and the choirs of the 3 great London Cathedrals performed.

The service is organised by the Worshipful Company of Musicians and is a highlight of the year as Masters, Wardens and Clerks process in the Cathedral in full Livery dress.

This year it was held in Westminster Abbey and it alternates between there, Westminster Cathedral and St Paul’s. 

Following this the Master invited the Wardens and Consorts, the Clerk and Assistant Clerk to a lunch at a well established French restaurant specialising  in the cuisine of  SW France ….And  where armagnac champagne cocktails were the order of the day.

The last day of my year as Master was November 21 and on that day with PM Raines and PM Watling we hosted a lunch for the new Meister of the Zunft zu Rebleuten in Basel, Fabian Bebler, and the previous Meister Edi Etter who is now a Liveryman.  We also welcomed Willeke Vester,  Dekon (Master) of the Guild of the Golden Glass in Schiedam in Holland. Both Fabian and Willeke would receive their Freedom of the Company at the Court Meeting later that afternoon along with Amanda Garnham of the National Armagnac Bureau in France. 

The Installation Ceremony of our new Master Kenny MacKay took place after the Court Meeting and preceded the excellent Installation Dinner. But I will put down my pen now and pass it on to our Master to follow on from here as he writes his first blog. I wish both the Master and Mistress a most enjoyable, fulfilling and memorable year full of yet to be announced events.

Nicola and I have been privileged this year to experience the many fascinating, prestigious  and unique events in the Livery World  and the City and to meet such a wide range of people from varied backgrounds.

We were proud to represent our flourishing Company.