When I last left you in August, just before the summer holiday period, I hinted at the forthcoming family charity walk up and down Snowdon. So away we all went to Snowdonia for a week’s break together and, on Tuesday 16 August, we left bright and early for our adventure. As a doting and proud father, I had purchased some black T-shirts suitably adorned with names and logos. The day dawned sunny and hot and, within half an hour, complaints were heard that I had not really thought things through properly. Ignoring the voices completely (in good parental form), we continued for a three-hour clamber/climb/walk up the Miners’ Trail to the top of Snowdon. We took suitable pictures and had a packed lunch before turning back and skipping/stumbling/falling (that was me!) back down the Pyg Track. All in all, seven and a half hours and eleven miles! At the end, there were a range of emotions from ‘enjoyed that’ through to ‘never again’, but of course no one else will ever know who said what. The eventual outcome was a fantastic £5,500 raised for our charities and, eventually, a proud and happy family.
The next few weeks saw the usual Master’s duties by attending Admissions, Finance, Nominations, and Charity Committee meetings, plus a few extra meetings with the London Highways Academy. I must say that, from my very privileged position, it is really wonderful to see the skills and enthusiasm we have harnessed in our committee members, which help to ensure that the Paviors Company is well managed. I also attended three very interesting lectures form the Fuellers, Accountants and Glass Sellers Companies, a Luncheon Club event at the RAF Club and, finally, saying thanks and goodbye to our vicar at St Martins within Ludgate. So it seemed like a quiet period, which indeed it was!
The week commencing 19 September was the week of our own Annual Banquet at Mansion House – so no pressure at all! However, before that, I attended dinner events with the Water Conservators on Monday, the Accountants on Tuesday, and the Chartered Architects’ installation and dinner on Wednesday. It was really interesting to witness the different ways livery companies carry out their ceremonies, and I can confirm that, so far, I think we measure up pretty well. For our Banquet on the Thursday, I was joined by a coach-load of family and friends as guests. The event proved to be an absolute highlight of our year – and I imagine this is true for all Masters and Mistresses. My guest speaker, Sir Michael Willcocks, was as I always knew a great hit with our audience, and the coach-journey back home was a mixture of relief and happiness, some of it possibly alcohol-induced.
As if this wasn’t enough for one week, I was honoured on the Friday to be invited by Alderman William Russell, an Honorary Pavior, to attend a ceremony and a private lunch afterwards for the presentation of his Shrieval Badge, which was very suitably emblazoned with the Paviors’ crest alongside those of his other two companies. It was a wonderful affair, enhanced by our very own Sir Michael Bear, who chaired the team working for William, giving a marvellous speech at the presentation. William’s wife Hilary also gave a stunningly good response and I am certain that they are going to make a great Shrieval and, hopefully, Mayoral team.
The following week, I attended a music event at the Mansion House on Monday, along with a great many other Paviors, as a guest of our own Alex Malmaeus, who chairs The Anglo-Swedish Society. On Wednesday, I was again privileged to attend the Sheriffs’ Breakfast at the Guildhall that follows the installation of the new Sheriffs, where I was suitably attired in my new morning suit – I am sure it will come in handy again one day! It was a grand affair and your Clerk and I had a wonderful day. To make things more interesting, a quick change of clothes and then on to a really good lecture, courtesy of the Guild of Air Pilots, on the continuing efforts in the form of the Airlander to get a practical airship on the market. Interestingly, the airship had been in the news a few weeks earlier for having had a small crash into its tethering pole, so the questions where unusually interesting.
Thursday was breakfast at the Guildhall, followed by the election of the new Lord Mayor. I was suitably gowned and I processed-in with the Masters of all of the other livery companies. This does at least guarantee you a really good seat. The event was followed by a small gathering of past Pavior Masters for lunch, but this time without the grilling I had at the last Past Masters’ lunch. It was my choice of restaurant and we could have cooked the meal ourselves quicker on a bunsen burner – but, there you go, you can’t get it all right!
We moved Into October with a Court Committee meeting on Tuesday 4th. There was a really good debate, as of course there should be. This was followed by dinner at the Charterhouse, which is a venue I really like as it feels like home. Knowing my love of game, the Clerk treated us to grouse, and it really was very good.
On the Wednesday, the Mistress joined me for evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral. I was once again gowned and processed-in for a wonderful evening hosted by the Musicians Company. I sat under the main dome for the service and, of course, some splendid music. These events allow Masters to meet up and get to know each other. At this time of the year, a great number of liveries change their officers, so we are now getting to know a lot of new people. It is also an opportunity for us to spread the word about our own Company and, again, I must say we appear in the very best of health when I listen to many of the other Masters.
On the Thursday, I joined with a dozen or so others for the ‘Jack The Ripper Walk’ arranged by the Liverymen’s Committee, which was fantastic. To be taken into areas you have walked through countless times, and be informed of the history, was eye-opening, to put it mildly. After a couple of hours, we retired to a bustling Indian restaurant and ensured we all had enough energy to get home. This was a great event and if it is repeated, do try and get booked on it.
Friday saw the Clerk and myself join our London Highways Academy for my second awards-presentation. On this occasion, there was plenty of time to stay and talk with the students. It was as much of a learning process for me as for the students in understating what they had been through in life and just how important the Paviors’ course had been to them. This is a great tribute to what our Company is achieving. After this, I went on to the Lightmongers Company (whose Clerk is our very own Phillip Hyde) for a Masters’ and Clerks’ lunch at Tallow Chandlers’ Hall. This is a really lovely hall that is, unfortunately like many of the other smaller halls, not large enough for our successful Company to use for major events. The evening followed the usual livery dinner formula, but was somehow much less formal, and it was a lovely way to end the week.
During the following week (10 October), the Clerk took himself off on a boys’ trip allegedly to play golf. Those of you who have seen him attempt to play this game must now be questioning what he was actually up to? So, for this week, I was ‘flying solo’ but, luckily, a relatively quiet week was in prospect. Starting on Wednesday evening, the Mistress and myself attended a white-tie court dinner with the Cutlers Company at their hall. It was a very splendid affair and, after surprising the Master Cutler at our Banquet with the challenge to abseil down St Lawrence Jewry, I fully expected a return surprise. But in the end, we had a super evening with the very best wine, food and company.
On the Thursday, the Mistress was at Tallow Chandlers’ Hall for a tour of the hall and lunch. The consorts’ circle is steadily getting busier year-by-year and is a great way for the consorts of the Masters to meet and immerse themselves into City activities. We then met up later at Mercers’ Hall for a concert by some very talented youngsters. This was followed (as it was the Mercers) by a full three-course supper with all the trimmings – very nice indeed. On Friday, I was at St Lawrence Jewry to abseil down the tower on behalf of the Lord Mayor’s Charity. This was the event I referred to earlier, having challenged the Master Cutler to join me, who probably found it hard to say ‘no’ in front of the whole civic team and well over 300 guests! I still await his return challenge. Abseiling was a fun few minutes and quite exciting. The £63,000 raised on the day will help the Lord Mayor’s Charity considerably. I was then under strict instructions to get home quickly, as no one else was prepared to open our youngest daughter’s Eleven-Plus results……all was well, I am pleased to say.
As these blogs seem to be getting longer (well no one has told me to shorten them yet), I will stop there and bring you up to date again before Christmas. I hope to see many of you at Drapers’ Hall on the 30 November for our Autumn Dinner, or somewhere else in the following months.