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Master’s Blog – December 2019

May I wish all our readers a Happy New Year and trust that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

Having picked up the pen , so to speak, from IPM Martin Riley immediately after the Installation Dinner in November, this December blog is a bit of a bumper edition with content from the end of November too!

The new Master’s year always starts the day before the Installation Dinner and this year was no exception with 4 functions/events attended in the day!

The morning saw us attending The Festival of St Cecilia at Westminster Abbey followed by a wonderful lunch with the other Wardens hosted by Martin and Nicola, who looked much more relaxed than the Master and Mistress Elect. The revelry was cut short as we left for The Lord Mayors briefing and the Lady Mayors afternoon tea respectively!

That would normally be that but the evening saw an invite to a reception hosted by The Lord Mayor for the launch of The Big Curry Lunch at the HAC headquarters on City Road. A journey made by bus in the absence of any taxis!!

Installation day starts with a rehearsal then a Court meeting followed by the Installation Ceremony before the Dinner and then the Dinner itself.

One is swept along during the day and although nervous one is struck by the sheer feeling of goodwill amongst our Livery.

Without the need for an inaugural speech I would have enjoyed the excellent food, wine and spirits so much more but I was fortunate to have the great company of the Master Vintner Chris Davey and chat about some very old times!!

A Post Prandial as guests of The Master Vintner and the inimitable Steve Marcham topped off and amazing day!

A truly memorable day for which I will be always grateful to The Clerks Office, The Vintners Hall and our Spirit and Wine Committee (who jumped through hoops to ensure my choice of wine arrived!).

Kathy my family and my guests had a wonderful time and were all made most welcome!

On the 26th November I attended the Distillers Icicle Golf Day at Beaconsfield. I use the term attended because I would never claim to have “played golf” that day as my long suffering team-mates/partners will attest!

A birdie at the last hole was definitely “ the one that brings you back” and was witnessed by the IPM who had made his way out to present the prizes!

Bryan Burrough was the runaway winner and I sure he will be looking forward to his new handicap!!!

The day was another triumph for the remarkable Golf organising cohort of Keith and Graham who again delivered another excellent year in 2019. We are indeed fortunate to have them both!

The IWSC banquet on 28th November had been  postponed from earlier this year because of a diary clash at The Guild Hall and as such fell into the early part of my year rather than Martin’s. 

The Banquet is a magnificent affair with prize and trophy winners receiving their awards. It never fails to amaze me just how diverse and truly global our industry is, yet, founded on people with remarkably similar values and outlook! Kathy and I were Royaly entertained!!

The IWSC Directors Dinner at Mossimans , the night before, fell into the same category where I was privileged to sit beside the President Sir George Fistonich, founder of Villa Maria!!!!

On the 2nd of December I attended the Admiralty Carol Service in St Martins in The Fields and, after a wonderful service where I sat beside the Australian Military attache, and met a number of other Master’s there for the first time. The familiar looking Master Glover (Wearing white gloves!!) turned  out to be none other than Roger de Courcey, the creator of Nookie Bear!!

The following evening James Higgins and I attended the London Regiment Boxing Tournament ,witnessed the London Scottish contingent acquit themselves very well especially as some were complete novices! I’m delighted to report that the relationship with London Scottish is in excellent health due in no small part to James’s commitment! Afterwards an Uber to the Piccadilly Line, 45 minutes on the tube , sleeper to Glasgow then train to Auchterarder highlights the life of the Long Distance Master!

The next week saw me back at The Mansion House and attending a reception and presentation by CLINKS who are a body looking after Charities operating within the prison system. The harrowing, but also uplifting, stories on display were a very good reminder that the all-out party approach to Christmas, that we sometimes enjoy, is not universal!!

On the 10th December I was invited, along with our Learned Clerk , to the Installation Dinner of  the new Master of The Glass Sellers of London, Richard Katz. The Glass Sellers are fellow members of our “Cask group”. Sitting at the top table I was again was struck by the huge privilege of being Master and with the close links and potential within the “Cask Group”. The dinner was most enjoyable with Christmas carols sung during the dinner.

11th December and I was on my way back North again  (More from the Long Distance Master) and due to attend the Annual Dinner of The Perth High Constables. Sadly, my third cancellation in a row on way North by train meant abandonment in Newcastle, a very indirect journey home via Carlisle and Glasgow, and missing the dinner!

No chances were taken for the Carol Service and we drove south on 14th!!!!!

Two days early, who says I leave things to last minute?!!!!

The Carol Service is one of my favourite events of the year and again this year didn’t disappoint. Rev David Parrott opened a few eyes with his unexpected “body show” but as always conveyed a thought provoking Christmas message. Our Minister from Auchterarder Rev Dr Lynn MacChlery came down as my guest,helped with the service, and was really overwhelmed by the “warm welcome” she received.

We drove home again on the 18th of December to get ready for Christmas and catch up with friends and family at home, amazed at how quickly everything had gone in December!

Christmas and New Year at home seemed like one big party with fair sprinkling of training runs on my bike. Blew the cobwebs away but challenging with some of the weather over the Festive period!!!

I’m back in London now and looking forward to a vey busy January as I write!