Well, I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a Happy 2017. My last blog was in October, so I will now bring you up-to-date as we enter the New Year and after a very fun-filled family Christmas.
On Monday 17 October, I had an invite to one of the many lectures that I receive as Master. These are normally great events and most of them are really interesting. They provide an opportunity to catch up with other masters and this particular one, organized by the Furniture Makers Company, was based around London at the time of the Great Fire, but looked at what the destroyed housing was actually like and how it was furnished. On the Wednesday of that week, I had a meeting over a very good glass of wine with my guest speaker for Autumn Livery Dinner, Alderman Michael Mainelli. This was followed by the Luncheon Club dinner at the Chiswell Street Dining Rooms, which was a very pleasant evening in a good city venue. As instructed by the Club’s Chairman (good old Past Master Tom Barton), I did not even have to say a word at the event. On the Thursday, the Mistress and I, accompanied by our Clerk and his good lady Penny, were guests of the Builders Merchants Company at Drapers’ Hall in the evening for a splendid Installation Dinner. As always, the surroundings at Drapers’ Hall make for a special evening and this one was no exception. Most of the Masters I joined in March have now been replaced by their successors, so it is almost like starting again with a new set. This is good fun, if you like meeting people and, fortunately, we both do! The occasion also allowed the Mistress to see the venue for our next Livery Dinner.
The following week, we took our two youngsters to Ironbridge for a week in a cottage for half term. We had both enjoyed the Masters’ weekend (reported in an earlier Blog) and wanted to explore that area further. I also met with the Chief Executive of Ironbridge to discuss the possibility of the Paviors assisting with the re-paving of the bridge itself (a World Heritage site), as next year there are plans for major restoration works. I hope there will be more to report on this later after our next Master has been installed. We had a really good week and would recommend the site for any of you that have not visited. Returning on the Friday, I then took a team of five to Canterbury for the 3PWRR Livery Day where our team were put on various competitive activities during the day, and then enjoyed excellent catering and company in the evening. The Paviors team won the competition, with the Cutlers’ team in second place by a good margin. Along with the other five livery companies participating, we all had a really good time.
The following week was quiet. There was a meeting at the Palace of Westminster to help organize the Mistress’s consorts’ day out. The Mistress also attended a function at the Mansion House with the Lady Mayoress. On Friday afternoon, I drove to Coningsby to join other Paviors and dine-in with 29(R) Squadron, which gave me the chance to present cheques to the Squadron and reaffirm our support to them. We, in turn, where treated to the Squadron’s usual hospitality, and I was presented with a wonderful picture to remember my year. I must admit that, near the end of a very long night, I was pleased to see a good representation of Paviors at the bar!.
On Monday 7 November, I was honoured to attend St Paul’s Cathedral along with nearly all the other 100-plus livery company Masters and process to the Gardens of Remembrance to place a cross on behalf of our Company. It was a special event and, despite poor weather, one that I will remember especially. Directly afterwards, I was a guest of the Plaisterers Company at their newly-repaired hall – following a rather serious water leak that has shut the hall for almost the whole year. Here, I attended a lavish awards ceremony in connection with the plastering trade. It was a very impressive afternoon and just shows how far a livery can take its trade-connected charity work. On the Wednesday, I attended the Luncheon Club’s annual lunch at the Guildhall and, as usual, it was a very good event. Later that day, I met with the Senior Warden, Miles Ashley, and the Clerk to continue making arrangements for the Burns Night Charity Ball on 28 January. Please do see if you can come, or contribute to what has now become the prime fund-raising event in our calendar.
On Friday 11 November, the Mistress and I attended the ‘Silent Ceremony’ for the installation of the new Lord Mayor, Dr Andrew Parmley. We were very fortunate to be given seats in the main seating area not more than six feet from the Lord Mayor (something to do, I suspect, with our Honorary Sheriff, William Russell). The Ceremony lasts about 35 minutes and is conducted in complete silence, apart from the incoming Lord Mayor reading his obligation. The Ceremony has taken place in this form for centuries, so it was a particular honour to witness the proceedings from a very privileged position. It was a quite magical experience, a one-off event for us, and something that will always be remembered. The next day dawned with pouring rain and a desperate weather forecast for the entire day, so the whole family set off for the Lord Mayor’s Show with some trepidation. We stopped for a cup of coffee and sandwich at Charterhouse as the rain continued to pour down. However, as we left to walk to the Paviors’ float, stationed near St Paul’s Cathedral, the rain then stopped, effectively for the rest of the day. The now traditional Paviors’ float, pulled by a steamroller and accompanied by the inflatable pig (joined this year by 20 or so baby pigs carried generally by the children present) were a huge favourite with the crowds and, indeed, with the new Lord Mayor. We then joined the boat on the River Thames, at first a little squashed, for a great evening to watch the wonderful fireworks – this year made more magical by a mist hanging over the Thames. I was accompanied by most of my family (12 of us) on the day and, as always, it was a marvellous occasion. Do try and come yourselves next year.
During the following week of 14 November, I attended the new Lord Mayor’s briefing at Mansion House and learnt that he is using ‘Education to Inspire’ as his theme for the year. This clearly fits very well with our own main charity and so discussions have begun between us to see how we can pursue this jointly – more about this later, hopefully. After that event, I attended a lecture on ‘Gogmagog’ from the Barber Surgeons Company at their hall and, on the Thursday, I attended the Actuaries’ lecture and supper afterwards. Here, I had a most interesting time discussing the risk business and also the recent Brexit issues and how that may (or it seems may not) affects the industry. The Friday saw the Mistress and myself, together with the Senior Warden and his good lady Judy, plus the Clerk (never one to miss some good food and wine!) attend a tasting for the Charity Ball event. This proved to be most pleasant and, luckily, we all agreed the menu without any fighting. I then took the Mistress home and left rather later than planned with my dogs for Harwich to participate in the Master’s shoot. This was attended by nine guns and proved to be an enjoyable evening of good fellowship (and of dog-walking along the Harwich foreshore with Past Master Christopher Laing). We had a fine day’s shoot day on the Saturday, and raised over £1,000 for charity – so well done Mike Philips who again organized the day.
The next week saw our second New Members’ Evening, which was very successful, and provided a great way for liverymen to introduce a potential member to the Paviors Company. The event was held at Charterhouse and attended by most of the Company’s officers, who give short introductions to the essence of our wonderful Company. These events have been highly productive in garnering interest from prospective new candidates to join our Company. The following night, the Clerk and I attended a Masters and Clerks charity dinner with the Basket Makers Company at Skinners’ Hall, one of the smaller but most beautiful halls in the City. Your Master succumbed and purchased a one-day basket-making course for the Mistress – who thoroughly enjoyed a similar day put on by the Basket Makers for consorts of Masters earlier in the year. On the Saturday, a large number of the Lumsden family attended a tour of Tower Bridge, arranged by the Liverymen’s Committee and enabled by BAM, who were in the middle of a major works programme that involve restrictions and closures of the Bridge. It was a well-attended event and enjoyed by all. Dinner afterwards for the Lumsden clan was, as usual, my treat!
The first week of December saw our own Autumn Livery Dinner at Drapers’ Hall. Those who attended will, I am sure, agree that it was a good dinner and we were looked after very well. I was feeling a little under-the-weather but, despite this, had a fantastic evening and enjoyed the fellowship that our dinners bring. It has been noted by some very senior civic figures, who have attended our functions this year, that the Paviors’ dinners have a very special feel about them. I, for one, am proud of this, and we must do our utmost to ensure that it continues. A quiet end to the week followed, but with ‘business-as-usual’ the next week.
On the Monday, there was a very unusual service at the church of St Bartholomew the Great in West Smithfield to celebrate our friends the Cutlers Company’s 600th anniversary. This was a very moving service and really well attended by the civic team and the livery masters. Afterwards, there were drinks in the Old Bailey. There was an Admissions Committee meeting on Tuesday, with another excellent set of candidates coming through. I then took a train down to Canterbury to meet the Mistress and attend the Christmas carol concert at the Cathedral held by our army affiliate 3PWRR. We love Christmas and everything connected with it, but a carol concert in Canterbury Cathedral really is at the top of ‘things we have done in our year’. We were treated exceptionally well by the Colonel and his team, and had a really enjoyable evening including, in true 3PWRR tradition, one of their legendary curry suppers. On Thursday, I attended the Paviors Lodge at Charterhouse and was looked after very well by our Masonic friends. The Lodge now use Charterhouse for almost all the meetings, where they are assisted by the in-house team.
On Monday 12 December, the Mistress and I were invited as guests by the Luncheon Club to their Christmas Dinner held at a packed Stationers’ Hall – and very nice it was too! The Chairman, Past Master Barton, asked me ‘to say a few words about Christmas’. Well, most of the speeches we Masters give have a clear brief, but this one foxed me for a while. So, unable to come up with anything of real substance, I decided to talk about Christmas in the Lumsden family. I enjoyed the freedom of this opportunity and hope that those present got a flavour of what Christmas means to our family and, of course, this fitted very well with my Master’s family theme. The Hall had been lit beautifully and the evening was a great success.
Christmas was almost upon us by now, so I had the excitement of the school pantomime, where my 10-year old daughter, Bryonie, got to play the part she had wanted for the last four years, and duly made her entrance as the pantomime horse! Together with the Clerk and Senior Warden, we increased the pressure to get tables and auction prizes for the forthcoming Burns Night Supper, and dealt with all the administration involved in getting the event organized. Together with the Mistress, we finalized arrangements for her consorts’ visit to the Escoffier Rooms for lunch and then the Palace of Westminster for a grand tour.
So may I wish you all a happy and peaceful 2017, and remind you to consider joining us at the consorts’ visit on Friday 20 January, the Burns Night Supper at Guildhall on Saturday 28 January, and my summer/winter magic evening event on Thursday 23 February (details of all these are on the website), as we want to have as many of you at the events as we can. It seems like the last few weeks of my tenure as Master are destined to be as busy as last year, but I am glad that our Livery Company continues to be as successful as any I can find.