22 December 2015

I’m now on a ‘Christmas countdown’, with no more official Pavior-related engagements and, I’m pleased to say, no big work commitments either until 12th January! The Mistress and I are planning a sun-filled break in the Cape Verde Islands over New Year after a family-filled Christmas period, so I thought I’d get this blog to you before we completely relax!

The last week has really helped me get into a festive mood, with a wonderful Paviors’ Luncheon Club Christmas Party in Stationers’ Hall on Monday night and a carol service organized by the Arbitrators’ Company in St Mary-le-Bow Church on Thursday night. The former was, as usual, full of colourful attire and decoration, and the extra mood-lighting supplied by Rob Mills added enormously to the atmosphere! We were superbly led in some raucous carol singing by students from the Guildhall of Music and Drama and went home full of bonhomie! I attach a photo which I hope gives a flavour of the event. The carol service on Thursday was delightfully fast-paced, and included readings given by the Master and Wardens of the Arbitrators, the Master Solicitor (former Lord Mayor and Pavior Dame Fiona Woolf) and myself, plus a homily by the Revd George Bush. Both the choir and congregation gustily sang carols and the service was all over in 50 minutes! We then retreated to the rear of the church to drink wine and eat canapés! I attach a photo Felicity took of me after the service, which I hope you will accept can double up as my Christmas card to you all with my best wishes for the coming season!

I don’t want the mention of last Monday’s event to pass without again paying a tribute to George Chapman who, having stood down as Chairman of the Paviors’ Luncheon Club, made the event the last one he would head up! Those who know George well, know he has a wonderful character full of straightforwardness and honesty, but with a huge capacity for caring and commitment. We are all lucky to have had him take on the duties he has performed so well over his years of association with the Paviors. We now look forward to seeing him and Marcia more relaxed at events in future! Tom Barton (who George hilariously managed to call ‘Tim’ during his address!) is taking over from George, and I know Tom will be delighted to see more members sign up for the Luncheon Club events. When I replied to the toast on behalf of the guests, I remembered George for his situation-solving abilities, and wondered how he would have replied to the following letter (which arrived to me via Past Master Keith White (thanks again Keith)! Several of those present on the evening asked for a copy of the letter, so I thought I’d include it here!). It went

Dear Master
After your pleas regarding maintaining and improving our membership numbers, I would very much like to introduce a new member, but I would very much appreciate if you could clarify my situation. By way of background: many years ago, I married a widow, who had an 18 year old daughter. After the wedding my father often came to visit us, and ended up falling in love with my step-daughter. Two years later, my father married her. As a result my step-daughter became my stepmother, and my father became my son-in-law. My father’s wife, who is both my step-daughter and my step-mother, gave birth to a son. He is my grandchild, because I am the husband of my step-daughter’s mother. However he is also my half-brother, as he is the son of my father. Furthermore, all at once my wife became a grandmother, because she is the mother of my father’s wife. In addition, as I am a half-brother to my wife’s grandchild, I am apparently also my wife’s grandchild! A short time after these events, my wife and I also had a child. She also gave birth to a son, and he immediately became my father’s brother-in-law, the step-son of my father’s wife, and therefore my uncle. As well as this, my son is also my step-brother’s nephew and, through my step-mother, my wife has become a grandmother, and I have therefore become my own grandfather! In light of the above, I would like to know, should my son, who is also my uncle, my father’s brother-in-law, and my step-mother’s uncle, apply to become a Pavior through Patrimony or Redemption?.
Best regards……

Since my last blog, I have attended the new Lord Mayor’s Annual Address at Mansion House (Lord Mayor Jeffrey Mountevans comes across as a very sincere and nice chap who I’m certain will continue to help the City of London retain its status in the world), and a lecture at Charterhouse which I found absolutely fascinating! It was given in the Charterhouse Church by Judge John Mitchell on the subject ‘Did the Carthusian Monks have to die?’. It referred, of course, to the Reformation period and Henry VIII’s dissolutions and desires for loyalty. The fact that the pews in the church do leave one a little cramped was soon forgotten!

I have been to two events hosted by the Construction Youth Trust. The first a Christmas concert and dinner in Carpenters’ Hall where the Reapers Gospel Choir gave us some fabulous renditions of both secular and non-secular songs, and my everlasting memory of the night will be all present standing, waving, clapping and joining in singing ‘Oh Happy Day’! The second was at the CYT workshop premises helping to host a visit by their Patron, the Duke of Gloucester (group photo attached). We were all extremely impressed with the facilities and achievements of CYT, and I had time to talk to the Duke over a coffee about the Paviors. He told me he is an honorary member of several livery companies (so I couldn’t tempt him!), but said the one he remembers easiest is the Vintners because, ironically, he is teetotal!

With several other Paviors, I visited HMS Argyll undergoing a refit in Plymouth dockyard (photo attached). We were very well hosted by her captain and crew, and the things that struck me most were the fact that the dry dock is completely under cover, and that Argyll sits on a flat-bottomed keel that is barely 18-inch wide and with very few other side supports! I was also amazed to learn her hull is only 14mm (half an inch) thick, and not double skinned! I didn’t realise that that was all there was between me and the wide blue sea when I sailed in her from Glasgow to Plymouth earlier this year!

On 10th December, I was honoured to attend the Fan Makers’ Annual Banquet at Mansion House as a guest of their Master, John Naylor. The Fan Makers aren’t normally on our construction-linked circuit of companies, but I have got to know John and his Mistress, Jenny, at several other functions this year and was delighted to be invited. I had the honour of sitting between the Lady Mayoress and the Upper Warden’s wife, and only one seat away from Lord Norman Lamont, who gave a superb speech on behalf of the guests. It amazes me how many times the Mistress and I enjoy what to others might seem very similar occasions!

The highlight of the last month was, of course, what most have termed a great Paviors’ Livery Dinner at Goldsmiths’ Hall on 26th November. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I’m not sure who encouraged the steel band to welcome myself, the Wardens and our principal guests by playing ‘When the Saints go marching in’, but I have a feeling it was someone who knows I’m a Northampton Saints Rugby Fan! Canon Ann Easter was wonderfully entertaining, and it was a delight to welcome so many new Paviors after the Admissions Court earlier in the evening. I have had some feedback about the lack of elbow room in places, and some other occurrences that should be discussed, and I am very grateful for these as well as all the compliments.

We have Common Hall on 14th January, and I do hope as many of you as possible are there to provide feedback that we can consider and learn from!

I again wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Best wishes