Saturday, 18 December 2010

City is biggest tax payer, and don't you forget it - Saturday 18th December 2010

Article from 16th December Daily Telegraph business news:

"The financial services industry regained its place as the largest individual contributor to Government finances in the latest financial year, according to figures from the City of London Corporation.

"Taxes paid by financial services companies were worth an estimated £53.5bn in the 12 months to March in a report produced by PricewatherhouseCoopers. ....the financial firms (were) the largest contributor to the Exchequer, comprising 11.2pc of the total UK tax take."

North Sea oil was in second place, distribution businesses were third and manufacturing businesses fourth in terms of the contributions to tax revenues.

Importantly, the reported figure does not include the tax paid by financial services professionals subject to the 50pc tax rate or those hit by the bank payroll tax.

Those numbers - £53.4bn, 11.2% - should be on the tip of the tongue for anyone wanting to promote the importance of the City of London to their friends and colleagues. This is what pays for our public services all over the UK (not just in London). If we want to be less dependent on financial services in future, by all means grow other businesses so that they become relatively bigger, but don't let's set out to reduce the absolute size and value-generating ability of the City.

Writer's cramp for Christmas - w/c 13th December 2010

We may be approaching Christmas but there is a year-end wave of physical mail to go out to members.

Court Assistant David Williams has produced a fabulous souvenir brochure of our Royal Charter celebrations, which encloses a DVD produced through the good offices of Court Assistant Peter Rees and Freeman Richard Teideman. They all hit the postal service late last week and most seemed to have arrived before the big snows of 17th December.

Christmas cards have been bought (from a brain tumour research charity) signed and sent to all members. Yes we could have done an electronic one and donated the money saved to charity, but it's not quite so personal is it?

The Marketors' Trust is making a special appeal for funds to support a second undergraduate student from the poorer boroughs around the City, so letters on that are going to all members too.

It's easy to forget just how much time it takes to write, stuff, seal and send 450 items. As always, it was a team effort.

House of Illustration display and auction at Sotheby's - Tuesday 14th December 2010

This was not strictly an invitation in my capacity as Master, but it was so interesting that I have to tell you about it.

Liveryman Ardi Kolah is a trustee of the House of Illustration, a charity promoting and preserving what they call the world's most accessible art form.
He kindly invited me to their exhibition of illustrations (mainly) from children's books of the 20th century, including Quentin Blake, Kate Greenaway, Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), Nick Park, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham, Arthur Ransome, E H Shepard and Margaret Tarrent. What a feast for the eyes and heart.

The highlight of the evening was a reading by Peter Capaldi of two extracts from 'A Christmas Carol', accompanied by Quentin Blake live-illustrating the story, with his hand, pen and paper projected onto a screen so we could watch the drawing emerge. A touch of the Rolf Harrises, but on a smaller scale.

Some of the illustrations were auctioned on 16th December, raising about £70,000 for the charity. Good luck to it.

Anthony Seldon's blueprint for education - Wednesday 8th December 2010

Sir John Cass's Foundation, a charity established in 1748, has given millions of pounds for educational purposes ranging from nursery to postgraduate levels. It is one of the oldest educational charities in London, but it got off to a shaky start when the founder died in the process of signing his will. It took 30 years to get the contested will accepted.

Since then it has forged forwards and we are proud that Tony Mullee, a Marketor, is its current CEO. An annual Lecture programme was established four years ago. This year's lecture was given by Dr Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College, who addressed the questions, "Why schools? Why universities?"

At the heart of his recommendations were the concepts of breadth (8 aptitudes: logic, linguistic, creative, physical, moral, spiritual, leadership, character - I think), creativity and happiness in education. The crucial skills were to teach children and students to become independent learners and problem-solvers.

After the lecture, Trevor Brignall (Chairman of the Marketors' Trust) and I presented a cheque to the Dean of Cass Business School, Richard Gillingwater CBE, for a bursary of £10,000 to support an MBA student research project. The topic for this year's project is still to be agreed with our Think Tank, but last year's winner, Scott Addison, subsequently presented his work to the Think Tank on 15th December. Scott received a distinction for his studies (see earlier post) so let's hope the Marketors are doing their bit to encourage independent learning and problem-solving.

Court Dinner, Watermen's Hall - Tuesday 7th December 2010

My last formal internal event for 2010 (but plenty of other activities still to go) was the annual dinner for members of the Court and their partners, this year accompanied by the Chairmen of Committees. This is a chance for people who have done so much work for the Marketors this year to get together for a 'family' evening.

It was also a chance for me to thank them all for their wonderful support and assistance. Mike Kearsley is stepping down from the Court after many years of effective service to the Marketors, leading the Regimental Liaison Committee and the Freedom Committee. Past Master Steve Kennett is retiring from being a trustee of the Marketors Trust, of which he is a past Chairman. We all expressed our special thanks to them both.

It's the time of year when people ask you what the highlight of the year has been. Apart from the obvious - the Royal Charter - for me the best things have been the people, the relationships and the learning.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Up the aisle with Huw Edwards - 6th December 2010

Well that was something I didn't expect to happen in my year as Master.

Huw Edwards, BBC newsreader and anchor man, was the guest speaker at the annual carol service for the communications industry at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street. The Marketors are regular participants and this year I was fortunate enough to be invited to write and read the Bidding (welcome). So we processed in together, behind the wonderful St Bride's choir, who led the music for the service.

As always, it was a wonderful occasion, just nicely focussing our minds forward for Christmas. A big thank you to Archdeacon David Meara, who is also our Honorary Chaplain, and to the whole team at St Brides for making us so welcome.

And afterwards we discovered a cosy bar in the basement of the Bridewell Theatre, thanks to Court Assistant David Williams's careful research and preparation. It's fair to say that a good time was had by all, including the Master who, after her last Court meeting in the chair earlier that afternoon, was beginning to feel a little demob happy.

Raymond Yiu wins top prize - 30th November 2010

Wonderful news - Raymond Yiu, who composed the Marketors' Fanfare, Tubae Fori, for our Charter celebrations, won the 'Chamber' section of the 2010 British Composition Awards for his composition 'North West Wind'. Highlights of the award were featured on Radio 3.

Well done Raymond - we're proud of you!

PS Marketors can hear Tubae Fori on the DVD of the Charter event which has recently been sent to all members.

Presenting the new FSG booklet to the Lord Mayor - Tuesday 30th November 2010

My apologies for the gap of more than two weeks since the last post.

The Financial Services Group of livery companies, now twelve in number since the International Bankers decided to become full members, produces a booklet each year which is presented to the new Lord Mayor, shortly after his or her installation.

The booklet describes the aims of the FSG, gives some facts and figures and explains how each company is supporting the current Lord Mayor's 'City of London: City of choice' theme.

The FSG's Convenor, Jeremy Goford (a Past Master Actuary), led the group of representatives who witnessed this year's presentation. If you would like a copy of the booklet, Marketors can get one from our Clerk, otherwise please contact the FSG Secretary, Michael Chitty at

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Marketors' prizewinner wins Distinction - November 2010

Scott Addison, who was awarded a scholarship by the Marketors to support his MBA studies at Cass Business School, has completed his course and been awarded a Distinction in his MBA. We are absolutely delighted and offer Scott our warm congratulations.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Mutton dressed as lamb? Thursday 25th November 2010

If a Freeman of the City of London can drive sheep over London Bridge (which is a fallacy, but a fun one - see the last posting) then why can't we take the sheep one step further and turn it into a delicious lunch?

Professional chef, Cyrus Todiwala, of Cafe Spice Namaste, has redefined the word 'mutton'. He says that, technically, mutton is lamb which is slaughtered between October and December. His mutton, served as cutlets, was as tender as any lamb I have ever tasted.

What was this all about? - an idea from Court Assistant Dan Doherty, to create a new 'sheep meat' dish specifically for Livery Companies which, whenever it was ordered, would generate a donation to the current Lord Mayor's charity (in this year, Bear Necessities).

A group of Marketors set the ball rolling last week, enjoying Cyrus's wonderful spicy food on one of the coldest days of the year so far, the principle dish being, what else but, "Marketors' Mayoral Mutton".

Little Bo Peeps go large - Friday 19th November

Marketors are good sports. Here are three Liverymen, bravely taking part in the "By hook or by crook" sheep drive, organised in support of the British Red Cross.
From left to right they are: Gerry Brierley, Jean-Francois Dor and Jane Wharam (also our Chief Usher, so she knows a thing or two about herding sheep).
Gerry and Jane won the prize for the best-dressed shepherds and the whole event raised more than £4,000.
And a week later, a team of Marketors including Jane, Gerry, June Poster, Jo Edwards, Gill Stevenson and (Freeman-elect) Annie Brooks came within a hair's breadth of winning an inter-livery quiz competition. Well done you brainy lot!

Want to know more about the Civic City?

Would you like to know more about the City Corporation and its links with the Livery? Then go to a City Briefing.

These are aimed in particular at new Freemen and Liverymen. They provide an overview of the work of the City of London Corporation and the relationship with the Livery Companies. There is an opportunity to ask questions of the speakers and to mix with other Freemen and Liverymen.

Four briefings are held each year at Innholders' Hall, College Street EC4, from 5.30pm - 7.30pm, usually on Wednesday evenings in February, May, October and November.

Further details are at and bookings and payment can be made at the website. There is a charge of £10 per person.

I strongly recommend these introductory courses for all Freemen and Liverymen. For little outlay of money and time you can start to learn about this amazing entity which is the City of London, of which you are now a part. Do go.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Baroness Hogg at the City Lecture - Tuesday 23rd November 2010

The final major event of the year for the Marketors - our City Lecture, with Baroness Hogg as speaker.

(Sidebar: my day started with a wonderful invitation to the service at Westminster Abbey preceding the start of the Church of England's General Synod. My host, Junior Warden Sally Muggeridge, was processing as a member of Synod, as was 'my' Rector from Guildford, Robert Cotton. However it was a hat occasion so afterwards I had to find a hairdresser in a hurry to repair my squashed locks. Thank goodness for Hershesons Blow Dry Bar at One New Change in the City.)

The London Chamber of Commerce was the venue for our event, attended by 120 members, their guests and Masters and Clerks of other Livery Companies. I was particularly pleased that one Master remarked on the number of younger, active people in our Livery.

Baroness Hogg, Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council, emphasised that there was no one perfect model of corporate governance, which had to strike the right balance between reducing risk while not stifling entrepreneurship. She examined three models - trust, legal and transparency - and expressed her strong belief in the value of the "comply or explain" principle. Her speech will be on our website shortly and I will insert the link to it as soon as possible. It is well worth reading, whether or not you attended the event.

Lord Phillips at the Actuaries' Lecture - Monday 22nd November 2010

Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court, was the speaker at the Worshipful Company of Actuaries' annual lecture at Staple Inn last week.

He explained how the Supreme Court came to be established in place of the former court in the House of Lords. It is the separation of powers between the Legislature (Houses of Parliament), the Executive (Government) and the Judiciary (Judges) which is crucial.

The former Law Lords (Judiciary) also sat in the House of Lords (Legislature), so the separation of powers could have been perceived as being compromised, although those directly involved never felt that this was the case.

Lord Phillips described the hair-raising political process of reaching agreement on this fundamental reform, but finished by assuring us that the outcome was a significant improvement. Apart from greater transparency of accountability, the new Supreme Court building is much more suitable for public access and openness - something highly desirable in the administration of justice.

The Power of Ten - Thursday 18th November 2010

Each year there are 108 Masters of Livery Companies. At the end of their year in office, they form a Past Masters' Year Group Association. I am vice-chairman of the group that held office during Nick Anstee's year as Lord Mayor.

Although for some of us, our year as Master still has some months to run, the association has been formed, has been named, "The Power of Ten", and held its first function last week to welcome the members and their partners to what we hope will be a lifelong friendship network.

We shall continue our commitment to charitable work by making a small donation from every ticket sold to one of our events, to the charity of the Lord Mayor of the day. Every little helps.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The worst job in the world? Sunday 21st November 2010

Does being a maker of speed cameras qualify as the worst job in the world? This morning, Paul Garratt, partner of Freeman Jo Edwards, took part in a church service at Holy Trinity, Guildford, joined by members of the charity RoadPeace, to take part in their service of remembrance for victims of road traffic accidents.

Interviewed by the Rector, Robert Cotton, Paul explained how deaths on the roads in the UK have halved from 8,000 a year to 4,000 in recent years, and that speed cameras have been part of the reason for this reduction. Robert endorsed the efforts of Paul's company, Tele Traffic UK Ltd, to include motorcyclists in the community of responsible road users with an award-winning new piece of technology which is now being supplied to police forces.

On behalf of his company, Paul presented a donation to RoadPeace.

And why am I reporting this? Because Jo and Paul first met Robert when they visited Holy Trinity Church in June this year as part of a Marketors' event. Nice outcome.

Graduation successses and Christmassy Birmingham - Friday 19th November 2010

A great day for
many graduands from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, receiving their Diplomas at a huge ceremony in the Birmingham Symphony Hall.
I was invited to present two prizes to the top students in the Professional Diploma (Suzanna Barr) and the Professional Post-graduate Diploma (Sarah McDonnell). Many congratulations to them all.
The first picture shows one of the academics, robing up. On the right are Junior Warden (and member of the CIM Senate), Sally Muggeridge, with the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, whose robes put us all in the shade.
A dignified ceremony, with good speeches from President (and Past Master) Sir Paul Judge, Chairman (and Liveryman) Chris Lenton, and the Dean of the Senate, Professor Robin Wensley. I was impressed by how business-like all the students looked, dressed as if for an interview - a nice sign of their self-respect.
On the way back I walked through a wonderful Christmas fair in Birmingham's New Street. Rustic German huts selling crafts, sweets, clothes, food and drink from the Frankfurt region. This tower was blasting out the music alongside the frankfurter stalls and the beer drinkers.

Marketing Society Annual Conference - Thursday 18th November 2010

The theme of the day was Leadership (I was glad to see that my former employer, Shell, is still sponsoring the Society's Marketing Leaders Programme). Excellent speakers, linked by leadership coach, Steve Radcliffe, keeping things simple and pulling out the key learnings.

Quotations of the day:
Dennis Turner, HSBC Chief Economist: "The recession, that time when even those who have no intention of paying you stop buying, is over."

John Prescott, quoted by Mark Price, MD of Waitrose: "Leadership is vision, compassion and courage". Mark added "and trust".

Warren Buffett, quoted by Mark Price: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Goethe (?), quoted by Martha Lane Fox: "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

A tasty secret - Wednesday 17th November 2010

If you've never been involved in organising a City event, you may not be aware that, before finalising the choice of menu, two people go the caterer's location for a "tasting" of the food and wine. For Great Events, the Master and Clerk do this.

On this particular day, our Events Committee Chairmen, Liveryman Diane Morris, and I went to the London Chamber of Commerce to taste the options (vegetarian and ominvorous) for the City Lecture next week. You can tell us afterwards what you think of our choices.

Helping launch the Bear Necessities - Tuesday 16th November 2010

The Marketors were privileged to be the first visitors to the new Lord Mayor, Alderman Michael Bear, at Mansion House last Tuesday morning. He and the Lady Mayoress and their staff looked amazingly fresh after a marathon weekend (Lord Mayor's Show, Remembrance Sunday) and the previous night's dinner for the outgoing Lord Mayor at Guildhall (guest speakers: the Lord Chancellor, the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury).
As you can see we were there to present a cheque, which was for the Lord Mayor's appeal (the Bear Necessities) from the Marketors' Trust. The Trust Chairman, Court Assistant Trevor Brignall, made the presentation, accompanied by our Clerk, Adele Thorpe (also seen signing the brand new visitors' book on the first page) and me.
The money will fund a university education for a student from one of the less well-off boroughs around the City of London. We shall also provide 'our' student with work experience during their summer vacation. We are making a special appeal to members for more funds to pay for a second student - in these times of increasing personal costs for higher education, we feel this is a relevant expression of our social responsibilities.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Tony Bellm Lunch - Monday 15th November 2010

Tony Bellm was one of our early Masters who inaugurated an annual lunch for the Past Masters, their ladies and a few other guests of the Marketors 'family'. He was a towering figure in every sense of the word; his lunch provides an occasion to remember Absent Friends. My husband, Roger, and I were honoured to be invited, as is the tradition, to share the memories.

Later I attended an exhibition of paintings and prize-giving to the artists organised by the Painter-Stainers' Company at their lovely hall. The attendees were drawn from the arts and the City (a luvvy-livery mix?) and we mere artisans opened our eyes in amazement at the variety of styles, textures, colour codes and scale of the displays. I cannot pretend to have understood it all but it was good to be exposed to what is new and considered to be excellent.

Remembrance Sunday at St Brides - 14th November 2010

Unusually this year, Remembrance Sunday fell after Armistice Day (11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) so I spent the 2 minutes' silence on Thursday in the reception of Cass Business School, just before going into a meeting.

But on Sunday a dozen Marketors were at St Brides for the wreath-laying and subsequent communion service. The music as always was exquisite - the St Bride's choir augmented by a volunteer (professional) orchestra. They sang the Durufle Requiem, and you can't go wrong with Durufle, in my view.

Driving into the City earlyish on a Sunday morning is a different experience. The streets had all been hosed clean after yesterday's parade. The mainline railway station at City Thameslink was closed. All was quiet except for the occasional tramp of soldiers moving in small groups towards St Paul's. The only coffee shop open was the independent Italian one, serving a diverse clientele of churchgoers and workmen in their reflective waistcoats. Parking was easy but there's no discount for going to church!

Lord Mayor's Show Day - Saturday 13th November 2010

Thank goodness it was dry! Here are some images from a great day out, not only for us, but for the family of Marketors who joined the many thousands of people alongside the route. I was joined by Senior Warden, Jim Surguy, Middle Warden, John Flynn and in this picture by Past Master and Brigadier Roger Hood, who is a Marshal for the parade. We walked with the other Modern Livery Companies in front of our bus, a steam-driven fire engine from the Firefighters and a potato harvester from the Farmers - what a neat bit of driving that was round our narrow streets.
A good walk through the streets of the City, wearing out your arm and cheek muscles waving and smiling at the crowds, who were so enthusiastic and welcoming. It was particularly nice when friends called out to us from the crowds or we saw someone we knew - they got an extra big wave.
Then to HQS Wellington (thank you to the Master Mariners) for a lunchtime break and refreshment. Then back along different streets, past the coachloads of elderly and less able visitors parked beside the road so that they got a ringside seat.
Returned to the Wine Tun in Cannon Street to join the last of the Marketors party before they left - big thank you to Court Assistant Dan Doherty for organising their hospitality with such efficiency and warmth.
Then on to the old HMS President where the City Livery Club had a bar open all afternoon preparatory to watching a stunning firework display, then dinner. Their President this year is our Liveryman Valerie Boakes, so it was great to see her and her husband, Past Master Norman Boakes, hosting such a delightful mix of guests.
A long day but the tired feet were well worth it. Thank you to Junior Warden Sally Muggeridge and her husband David Williams for getting the team together and managing logistics on the day.

Silent Ceremony - Friday 12th November

This was an occasion for hats, as you can see. It is the ceremony at which the new Lord Mayor is installed and, apart from his declaration, it takes place in silence.
There is a large table placed in the centre of Guildhall around which the dignitaries sit and the symbols of authority are, one by one, presented to the outgoing Lord Mayor, who presents them to the incoming Lord Mayor, who returns them to their custodian. So the Sword, the Mace, the Seal of office, the Purse, the collar and badge are handed over.
This is all done with much bowing and stepping forwards and backwards - very dignified, very British. It was thanks to the good offices of our Clerk, Adele Thorpe, that my husband, Roger, and I were able to attend. A great privilege.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

6th City of London Biennial Meeting - 9th November 2010

I was invited to attend this meeting organised by Cass Business School. It takes place in alternate years and looks at macro-economic conditions and their impact on the finance, energy and shipping sectors. I went to the second day for an update on two areas in which I have spent most of my career so far.

Delighted to see that the government is now espousing the energy objectives that Shell has talked about for some time - that what we all want is energy that is clean, cheap and convenient. Or if you prefer it more elegantly: affordable, available and acceptable. The Department of Energy and Climate Change seems to have (what I would consider to be) a sensible view of the task ahead as we migrate to a new portfolio of energy sources and technologies.

Just as interesting, I met a delightful Past Prime Warden of the Dyers Company, Michael Rowlandson, who sits on the Court of City University. It's one of their expressions of social responsibility.

Monday, 8 November 2010

For our tomorrow, they gave their today - Monday 8th November 2010

At 5 degrees, London today was colder than Switzerland. It was also wet and windy enough to blow rain under your umbrella. Perfect conditions for remembering those who died in the much worse conditions of war.

From 9.30 the crypt of St Paul's gradually filled with representatives from the the Royal British Legion, the armed services, the Ambulance Service, City Institutions and the Livery Companies. We were called out to walk across to the garden of remembrance at the North East corner of the cathedral, where the Band of the Scots Guards (well wrapped in grey greatcoats and bearskins) waited.

The Livery Masters gathered on the grass under the plane trees, cold penetrating up through the soles of our shoes, and the large wet plane leaves brushing water across our dripping umbrellas as the wind caught the branches.

The arrival of the procession of dignatories (Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Dean and Chapter) signalled the start of the service and we did our best to sing and pray, then took our turns in sixes to plant our small wooden crosses in the grass at the foot of the tree. Cautious steps required on the slippery mud (wonder what it was like in the trenches) and a strong hand to push the cross into surprisingly resistant ground.

The Lord Mayor Locum Tenens (i.e. stand-in for the LM, who is abroad), Lord Levene, said that this morning he had read the names of all those servicemen who had given their lives this year - 104 of them. "So many were only 18, 19 or 20 years old. That's one of the injustices of war. It takes the youngest and the best." Very choke-making.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Lady Mayoress's Reception - Thursday 4th November

We are approaching the end of the Mayoral year - next week we have a "3-day event" with the Silent Ceremony on Friday (the installation of the new LM), the Lord Mayor's Show on Saturday and Remembrance Sunday at St Brides. November is such a busy month for Livery events and committee meetings that I have even found it worthwhile to buy a monthly season ticket for the train.

On Thursday the Lady Mayoress held a reception to whom, among others, all the Livery Company Masters of 2009-10 and their Ladies or Consorts were invited. I have been in office for almost 9 months so many of them are now friends; the reception was more like a large private party than a formal civic occasion. Excellent tea, finishing up with a glass of champagne - now that's style!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Brand Finance Conference and Advertising Association Reception 26th & 28th October 2010

I mention these two events together, although they were not strictly Livery occasions, because both focussed on how the advertising profession could express its value and utility to society. We are all interested in the ethics of marketing and of its constituent skill-sets, so it was good to hear the latest thinking on this. For further information take a look at: and

Furniture Makers' Lunch - Thursday 21st October

The Furniture Makers are a modern livery company with a hall in the City of London - most unusual and interesting to see. They are also taking the (I believe rare) step of creating corporate Liverymen, in other words companies who wish to be associated with the Livery. As always we were delightfully hosted and entertained.

Royal Charter - 19th October 2010

The greatest day in the Marketors' history, when HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT presented us with our Royal Charter at Guildhall.

We started preparing almost a year ago, taking a chance on booking the Great Hall (shown above, although we had long tables, not round ones) before we knew we would be awarded the Charter.

A huge amount of work done by the committee, especially our Clerk, Adele Thorpe, resulted in a never-to-be-forgotten occasion. I cannot do justice here to it but the full story will be in the souvenir brochure and DVD to be sent to every Freeman and Liveryman of the Marketors. You might like to read the views of a guest, the Master Draper, on his blog:

Coverage also from the Livery Committee's website:

Chartered Accountants Installation Dinner - 12th October 2010

Our Clerk and I dined as guests of the Chartered Accountants on the occasion when they installed their new Master. It is always interesting to see how other companies do things - one of the nice ideas we picked up from them is for the Master to sign a copy of his declaration to serve the Company.

I was fortunate enough to sit next to Alderman Roger Gifford, Master of the International Bankers. Although we discussed more serious subjects, we also agreed that the City's Sung Grace (Laudi Spirituali of 1545) is set in too high a key. The third line is too high for altos and basses, so I end up singing that line at tenor pitch. Ho hum, the challenges of being a Master.

Women of the Year Lunch - Monday 11th October

I was honoured to be invited to the Women of the Year Lunch. Roz Morris generously nominated me and here we both are - note the slight lack of focus was the result of indoor lighting, it had nothing to do with the excellence of the lunch!

So many of those attending had done amazing things in the sphere of charitable work or what could now perhaps be called "Big Society" volunteering. It made me feel very humble by comparison.

The event was hosted by the wonderful Sandi Toksvig - a pocket battleship of humour and good cheer - and while celebrating the successes of women, the tone was determinedly NOT anti-man. Thank goodness.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Lighting the Way - Friday 8th October 2010

Lunch with the Lightmongers' Company, whose Master, Hugh Ogus, has been such a kind and wise friend this year - he is in his second Mastership so really knows the ropes. After welcoming the guests he gave a short exposition on energy-efficient light bulbs. Did you know that there are eco-halogen bulbs, which don't save quite as much energy as the most efficient new bulbs, but which give a better quality of light? I didn't but I shall be looking out for them.

Harvest of the Sea service at Billingsgate Thursday 7th October 2010

Got up at ten to five and caught almost the first tube from Holland Park to Mile End where Sally Muggeridge and husband David Williams rescued me from the clutches of 3 chivalrous cockneys and bore me off to Billingsgate Market. This used to be beside the Thames just west of the Tower but now sits alongside Canary Wharf, incongruously under the new towers of HSBC and Barclays.
The market was in full swing and my eyes were out on stalks at the fabulous display of fish and seafood of all kinds. It is a retail market so anyone can go and buy there. Saturday is the busiest day.
At 7 o'clock a brass band struck up and we took part in a short Harvest Festival service conducted with great aplomb by Canon Flora Winfield, with the market buying and selling continuing quietly in the background. What an experience, especially when you rejoin the rest of the world at about 8.30 (after breakfast with kedgeree - what else?) with a sense of virtue at having been 'up and doing' so early.
Do go next year if you can.

Hearts of oak and the Nelson touch - 4th October 2010

A delightful extra social event was organised this evening by Liveryman Jenny Moseley. Her good friend David Williams (not our Court Assistant of the same name) is an expert on Nelson and Admiral Collingwood, who fought alongside Nelson frequently. David gave us a wonderful illustrated lecture and brought a piece of original oak from HMS Victory as the top prize in a charity raffle. We even have a descendant of Collingwood in the Marketors, but I'm not telling who!

Ward Clubs - yet more learning 4th October 2010

I was invited today as a guest of our Clerk, Adele Thorpe, to the Annual Civic Luncheon of the Ward of Cheap Ward Club. The Wards are electoral constituencies in the City of London and the Ward Clubs support the Alderman and Common Councilmen who represent the Ward in the local authority, the Corporation of London. A charming and welcoming group of people with many years of City knowledge and experience between them.

Lord Mayor's conference on Values and Trust in the City - Monday 4th October 2010

You may have spotted a letter in the FT on Wednesday 29th September from 17 leaders of the financial services sector in the City, pledging themselves to exercise leadership to "create, oversee and imbue their organisations with an enlightened culture based on professionalism and integrity".

On the following Monday, Lord Mayor Nick Anstee hosted a seriously heavy-hitting conference to take the conversation beyond law and regulation and to stimulate the shift from talk to action. Speakers included Marcus Agius, Chairman of Barclays, and Hector Sants, Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority. The tone of the meeting was clear: we accept we have a problem and we have to do something about it.

This is a subject close to my heart (part of the holistic sustainability agenda that is my theme for the year) so I was delighted when the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants invited Sally Muggeridge, Junior Warden, and me to join a team working on this topic with the Lord Mayor-elect, Michael Bear. Watch this space.

'Rules for the Conduct of Life' - modern version from a church with no Sunday services - 30th September 2010

If you are a Freeman of the City of London, you will have been given a copy of this publication, written for apprentices in about 1740. Of course although the context has changed, the values haven't.
The Guild Vicar at St Lawrence Jewry, Canon David Parrott, has rewritten the Rules into modern English to make them more readable, especially for young Freemen. The new edition will be launched at a lecture on 29th November at 6pm. More details from
StLJ is a Guild Church i.e. it doesn't have a parish but serves a particularcommunity, in this case all those who work for the Corporate of London, especially those in Guildhall. Most of their services take place during the week because hardly anyone is there over the weekends.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Mayoral election "bears" fruit

Taking part in the election of the Lord Mayor is something every Liveryman should do at least once in their life. It combines City pageantry with exercising your civic duty and is just good fun.

The day started for me with breakfast as a guest of the Cook and the Butler (who were our caterers for the Installation Dinner and Spring Lunch this year) and included a squirrel casserole - tasty in its own way but slightly bitter so not my choice for future breakfasts.

Thence to the crypt in Guildhall to robe up and join the other Masters processing in colourful array across the yard to St Lawrence Jewry church (see also next post) for divine service. Back to Guildhall before processing into the Great Hall for the election.

The three eligible candidates' names were called out, to which the hall replied with a shouted "All" for the preferred one, "Next" for the one to follow next year, and "Later" for the third.

It's a solemn occasion but humour is not far below the surface, as when the Common Cryer and Serjeant-at-Arms (the same person) bellows "Silence!" into a hall where you could hear a pin drop. And when the Aldermen retire to determine their choice between the two candidates put forward by the Livery, the Assistant Town Clerk (Chief Executive in Corporation of London-ese) does what can only be described as a "turn", entertaining the troops while we await the results.

Alderman Michael Bear emerged as the Lord Mayor-elect and made a speech in which he promised plenty of ursine humour in the year ahead. He takes office on Friday 12th November, the day before his Lord Mayor's Show.

The vote of thanks to Lord Mayor, Nick Anstee, who is now approaching the end of his year, was given by HRH The Princess Royal, this year's Master Butcher (NA is a Butcher). She is a great supporter of the Livery in general and gives a good speech.

Lunch followed at the always-hospitable Farmers' and Fletchers' Hall and the day ended with the Worshipful Company of Musicians' Choral Evensong at St Paul's, followed by the third meal out of the day.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Interest sprouts in Brussels - 27/28th September 2010

This is the Hemicycle, at the heart of the European Parliament building. It's where the 736 MEPs meet and debate - literally, hugely impressive.
Below is a sculpture which symbolises the entwining of the 27 countries that now make up the EU.

Thanks to the inspiration and hard work of Past Master David Hanger, Junior Warden Sally Muggeridge, Silvia Cambie and Janet Morris, a group of Marketors had a fantastic 24 hours in Brussels learning about how the EU works and visiting a lobbying organisation (FAEP), the Commission and the Parliament.

Did you know that 80% of our laws are now created in Brussels - all the ones that involve trading standards, rights to work in different countries etc. So, like it or not, we need to engage with the EU and ensure that our preferences are known and our interests represented. We pay 1% of our GDP to fund it, so we might as well get value for our money.
Did you know that the average MEP is 20 years older than a Westminster MP and has had a "real job/life" before going into politics?
We all learned a great deal and came home with a new respect for those who struggle to create an open market across 27 different countries and even more cultures and languages. It may cost a lot, but it's cheaper than the wars that preceded it.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

A successful experiment - 22nd September 2010

Today we had our first members-only event of the year (and I believe for some time), lunch at Butchers' Hall. Diane Morris booked us a large table in their dining hall and 14 of us sat down to their wonderful set menu (highlight - roast beef). We rotated places between courses so that everyone could meet as many people as possible.

Conclusions: worth repeating; lunchtime suits some members better than evenings; more privacy would have enabled us to have a collective conversation but this was still enjoyable; a different dynamic without partners, but nice for a change.

Images of St Paul's - 22nd September 2010

There is a collection of paintings, drawings and sculputure produced by over 50 artists to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the completion of Sir Christopher Wren's great enterprise. It is in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral and all the items are for sale with proceeds going to support the maintenance and mission of the Cathedral. They are wonderfully diverse and show modern "takes" on a traditional theme. Well worth a visit.

Sheriff's badges are not star-shaped - 21st September 2010

If you are a Liveryman, each year you will receive two letters from the lead supporters of the incoming Sheriffs, asking if you would like to donate to their Shrieval badges. I never really appreciated what this was about until this year.

Each Sheriff has to buy their own badge of office to wear during their year - it's not provided for them, hence the appeal for donations. This year I had met both new Sheriffs during the course of the year so felt I knew them quite well. For the first time I made a small donation and it's something I will do again in coming years.
As a result, I was invited to see this beautiful badge being presented to Alderman Fiona Woolf at a reception held at Carpenters' Hall for all her supporters. If you are coming to our Charter celebrations, you will see her wearing it there. It's full of symbolism of her life and career.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Innovation at the Wardens' & Court Assistants' Course - 20th September 2010

The Livery Committee is an organisation that tries to help Livery Companies build effective relationships with the Corporation of London, the Court of Common Councilmen, the Court of Aldermen, and the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs. The Committee organises Common Hall, when the Sheriffs and the Lord Mayor are elected. (This is a duty of a Liveryman, and great occasions to witness - if you haven't already done so, do put it in your diary for next year.)

Another of the Livery Committee's tasks is education and they run short evening briefings for Liverymen (I am glad to say that Marketors regularly attend - please keep applying, they only cost £10 and are a great introduction to the City Civic). They also run, once a year, a full day's course for those approaching the chair of their Livery Company i.e. Wardens and Court Assistants. The agenda normally covers the role of the Corporation, of Aldermen and Common Councilmen, the Planning Office, the City of London Police etc. This year there was a new session, "Helping the Livery to understand and support the Business City". This was the first mention of the source of wealth-creation on the course.

The stimulus was a request from Sheriff Peter Cook to help the Livery do more to support the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs in their role as ambassadors for the City and for financial services across the UK. The request landed on the desk of the Financial Services Group and I volunteered to create a presentation to fit the 25 minute slot for the audience of more than 100 from most of the Livery Companies. Anyone who attended our dinner at Mansion House will have heard part of the story (sorry - I used my own company as guinea pigs). I am awaiting the quantitative feedback but, on the day, the response seemed favourable.

"I love Lucy" - 16th September 2010

No, not Lucille Ball (for those old enough to remember her), but a beautiful Holstein dairy cow pictured here in Bakers' Hall Yard last Thursday. Some of the other people in the picture are the Master of the Tobacco Pipe Makers and one of his Wardens (with smoking hats and gold tassles), the Master Actuary (red bonnet) and (in the tricorn hat on the left) the Master of the Environmental Cleaners.
This needs a little explanation!
The Environmental Cleaners organised a charitable walk around the Livery Halls for a party of Masters, accompanied by one of their Wardens or Court Assistants. (This is another of those occasions designed to introduce you to your colleagues in other companies.)
Sounds easy doesn't it? Until you realise that you have 40 halls to visit and the route is 8.5 miles long, all on very hard pavements. But Senior Warden, Jim Surguy, and I didn't let that daunt us. Taking the advice of an old soldier friend, I rubbed vaseline between my toes in the morning and put on two layers of hosiery. We met at Stationers' Hall at 8 to collect our gowns and (obligatory) bonnets. The route march set off from Armourers' Hall at 9 and returned at 5. In between I have to admit that we were regularly fed and watered at some of the halls on the route, for which we give heartfelt thanks.
And what about Lucy? She was a surprise visitor arranged by the Master Farmer, brought up to the City with her handlers in a trailer from Plumpton College, to remind us all where our food really comes from.

Modern Livery Companies in company - Monday 13th September 2010

30 Modern Livery Companies have come into existence since the Master Mariners in 1926. Twice a year the Masters and Senior Wardens of these companies have a dinner together (each person at their own expense) organised by each company in turn. This is an unusual assembly: at most Livery events the Master is accompanied by the Clerk and they are two of relatively few guests among many liverymen of that company.

So why do it this way? The purpose is to enable Masters and, especially, Senior Wardens to start meeting their peer "year group" who will become part of their personal networks in their year as Master and beyond. An example of the importance attached to fellowship across the companies. (Each year group forms a Past Masters' association to keep in touch with each other, so these relationships can last for the rest of one's life.)

On this occasion the guest speaker was Sheriff-elect, Richard Sermon. He was our Clerk's guest at our Installation Dinner in January - Adele has been one of his supporters on his journey to being elected last June. Richard has also just been interviewed by Court Assistant Andrew Marsden and Liveryman Deborah Marmor as part of a Marketors' project. So he certainly knows about the Marketors.

In his speech he praised the contribution of the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies (of which we are a member) and emphasised the importance of the City recovering its reputation for trustworthiness and ethical behaviour. Hear, hear!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Boris Bikes are Bonza

So here you have the Master Marketor about to make her first journey on one of the new Barclays Bicycles which are popping up in blue ranks all over London. I have been longing to have a go for weeks and finally did it last Friday.
(Members of the Marketors may recall that my theme for this year is Sustainability. One leg of sustainability is the environment, but actually I did it for fun too.)
The system has been designed with enormous care and it worked a treat for me. You have to register and get sent your key but once that's done, you're away in seconds. Just plug in the key, pull out the bike and off you go. (I did a practice run up a quiet side street to get the saddle height right and to test the brakes and gears.)
The bikes are stable and easy to ride. There are only 3 Shimano gears - a great relief to those of us brought up on Sturmey Archer clickety clicks, before the days of 21, 24 or even more gears. As you can see there is a "basket" on the front with a bungee to hold on to your bag. The reflective jacket and helmet are my own - strongly recommended but not provided.
So off I spun from CASS Business School, across the City, over the river and back to Waterloo station, parking the bike in a slot beside the Festival Hall - all in less than 20 minutes. Cheaper, healthier and more fun than the tube or bus. And I'm not a regular cyclist.
Our Clerk, Adele Thorpe, is also registered. She is taking advantage of the two hours of bicycle training offered by Westminster Council to residents who want to use the scheme. What a brilliant idea the whole thing is.
Note for ladies - definitely a trouser and flat shoes activity. Narrow skirts a no no, and I don't think you'll catch me doing this late at night in an evening dress either.

Back in the saddle

August was quiet for external events, but internally our Clerk, Adele Thorpe, and the committee have been working hard on the preparations for the Charter event in October. She also organised our first walk through of the ceremony at Guildhall, together with the (helpful and encouraging) Equerry-in-waiting to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, who will be presenting the Royal Charter to us.

1st September and the Livery world wakes up again. A conference on World Class Cities: World Class Universities was hosted at CASS Business School. Speakers included Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, formerly Chairman of the Corporation of London's Policy Committee, and Angela Knight of the British Bankers Association. Lots of interesting snippets that I can use for my own forthcoming presentation to the Wardens' and Court Assistants' City Course on 20th September.

2nd September and I witnessed Court Assistant Peter Rees delivering a tour-de-force presentation on marketing planning to a 10-strong team from the Guildhall Libraries. In a little over 2 hours he took them through a structured, joined-up approach that they could do for themselves. Supported by Michael Harrison and Sue Garland Worthington, all very well received. This is part of our highly active Outreach work - more than 60 projects being supported by Marketors who give their time pro bono to charities and others. I have asked for an estimate of the financial value delivered by this great team - I bet it's more than we give in cash terms to charities and educational awards.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

A beery summer interlude

Last week, in conversation with members of another Livery Company, I mentioned that our members were going on a pub crawl that evening, suitably presented under the title, "A City Walk: including traditional taverns of Smithfield and Clerkenwell". "Ah", they replied, "that's marketing for you!"

You may well laugh, but on a mid-August, mid-week evening, no fewer than 46 members heard Murray Craig (who does professional City guiding occasionally alongside his day job as Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court - the man who conducts the City of London Freedom ceremonies) telling us the history of Smithfield - ecclesiastical, poetic, poignant, occasionally bloody and frequently beery. Did you know that the Bishop's Finger was a signpost on the Pilgrims' Way pointing towards Canterbury?

And there was our own Freeman, Richard Teideman, handing out vouchers, good for a round at each of our tavern stops on the way. (Did you ever refer to five pound notes as "Blue beer vouchers" in your youth? Well there it was, only they were white.)

Despite the on-tap attractions, remarkably, the group stayed together for most of the journey - well done Murray and Richard.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Signing off for the holiday season

Tomorrow we have our third Great Event of the year, the Lord Mayor's Banquet at Mansion House. I am personally looking forward to it very much.

Afterwards, many members will be going on holiday, although the preparations for our Charter event in October will continue throughout the summer.

If you want some light holiday reading, try C J Sansom's "Dark Fire", a mediaeval murder mystery set entirely in the City of London. I have been intrigued by the 1540 map drawn inside the front cover, showing so many of today's streets with the same names, the Fleet River, Smithfield when it was a field etc. It's one of a series but stands alone if you haven't read the others.

Your correspondent will be back in a few weeks' time.

From the old to the new - Thursday 22nd July

Last night with the Basketmakers, founded 1569. Tonight with the Insurers, founded 1979.

While both displayed the common values of the Livery, at one the conversation was mostly social, at the other there was more discussion of a commercial nature. This illustrates the variety among Livery Companies. One could almost segment them into:
  • the modern companies, almost entirely made up of professionals from the 'trade';
  • the old and wealthy, whose members often join through patrimony, and who spend a great deal of time managing trusts and charitable works;
  • the niche, perhaps with an ancient trade that has no modern equivalent;
  • the ancient but modernised, who have allied themselves to a new, related trade or profession.

The marketers among you will have spotted that I have fallen into the temptation of segmentation by characteristics rather than by need, but it's only a bit of fun!

The Master Insurer, Graeme King, is a Scot so his excellent dinner was rounded off with a poem from the much-ridiculed poet, William McGonagall, and live bagpipe music.

A basketful of jollity - Wednesday 21st July 2010

Tonight I had dinner with the Basketmakers', whose Clerk is our Past Master, Roger de Pilkyngton.
Every Basketmaker is encouraged to make at least one basket before taking the Livery and there was a display of baskets made by their Yeomen members. I was lucky enough to be given one as a gift - most generous.
One Past Prime Warden (Master in basket-speak) introduced himself to me as "An old Basket" which I am sure is a joke with whiskers on, but nonetheless fun to a new hearer. Another assured me that the Company had been banned from the City of London at one point in history because they were suspected, with their bunches of withies, of starting fires.

The evening was memorable, not least because the Beadle asked my permission to use the table beside me on which to rest his block of wood. He gavelled with such energy, that the china and glass jumped and 'chinged' each time in unison, and on one occasion a chip of wood flew off the block. I purloined it (the chip) as a souvenir.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Modern mediaevalism with the Knights Bachelor - Thursday 15th July

This is the Council of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor and, on the right, their breast badge. It is a society committed to upholding the ideals of chivalry and public service. Each year they hold a service in St Faith's Chapel in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral to which Livery Masters and Clerks are invited.

What a privilege. With its low, arched roof the chapel has a distinctly mediaeval feel. The knights parade with their symbolic sword, spurs and pennons (swallow-tailed flags) and the Council in these glorious robes. Cathedral-standard music and a sermon from the Bishop of London about sustainable societies (and bees) made it a real treat for me.

Dazzling Pink - 14th July 2010

A fun trip to "Legally Blonde" at the Savoy Theatre with other Marketors. Jo Edwards organised it with enthusiastic support from theatre buff (and Middle Warden) John Flynn. What a rabbit warren that place is but, despite fires and other historic disasters, still filling the seats every night with this great musical hit.

Pink is the colour - reminds me of my Installation Dinner.

And did you realise that the original Savoy Hotel was built with profits from the theatre, in the days of D'Oyly Carte?

Masters' methadrone - 14th July 2010

Not quite half way through my year but the future already beckons.

In the Livery world, Masters are installed at different times of the year but July is a particularly busy time for handovers from one Master to another. So just as you have got the name right of the person wearing a particular badge, a stranger turns up, saying "I'm Master So and So" and you think to yourself, "No you're not, my friend N is!"

Following the Masters' visit to Ironbridge in June we have formed our year group association for 2009-10 (for all those who are Masters/Upper Bailiff/Prime Wardens in the year of Lord Mayor Nick Anstee). The committee had its first meeting on Tuesday this week to write the constitution and start planning future ways of promoting fellowship among the 100+ likely members.

These associations could be described as the Masters' methadrone - helping reduce withdrawal symptoms of losing office!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Helping ex-Prisoners Monday 12th July 2010

The Clerk, Adele Thorpe, and I attended the AGM of the Sheriffs' & Recorder's Fund, a charity based at the Old Bailey set up to provide support to ex-prisoners and their families. It took place in Number One Court and was attended by both Sheriffs, 40+ Livery Company Masters and others from the City who support the charity.

Typically they give small grants of money to pay for retraining, new clothes for someone leaving prison in the same clothes they went in with, tools of their new "straight" trade, basic furniture etc. Last year they made more than 900 small grants and they pride themselves on turning around requests quickly.

Some stories from beneficiaries:

"JH received a grant to purchase a washing machine which has made a big difference to her life. She had previously been doing the washing for her four children and herself in the bath."

"Your generous gift enabled me to replace my lost driving licence and purchase much needed clothes. I have now gained employment and am reintegrating back into mainstream society."

We were privileged to hear the story of one beneficiary who had been in and out of jail on drug-related crimes since the age of 12, was then sent to rehab and has now been clear of drugs and crime for 18 months.

The Marketors' Trust supports this charity as one of its "regulars". I'm glad.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Prize Giving at St Dunstan's College - Thursday 8th July 2010

Much honoured to be the principal guest and speaker at St Dunstan's College end of year prize giving ceremony. Wonderful warm welcome from our own Past Master, Alderman Sir Paul Judge, as Chairman of Governors, and from the headmistress, Mrs Jane Davies.

A large table in front of the Governors laden with books, book tokens, silver cups and military paraphernalia (including our own recently-donated Coxswain's Sword) all to be handed out to bright-eyed and confident young people, achieving across all fields. There are heroes for community service as well as for academic, sporting and musical achievements. A great school serving its pupils well.

Delighted to finish the evening with a tired hand from so much shaking and congratulating!

Engineers' Awards Dinner - Tuesday 6th July 2010

The Worshipful Company of Engineers held their annual awards dinner at Gibson's Hall last week. The hall was constructed as the main banking hall of the Provincial Bank, subsequently National Provincial, National Westminster etc. An amazing piece of extravagant Victoriana with marble columns, domed roofs, elegant plaster and gilt.

Numerous awards were made to civilians and military prizewinners. The citations were humbling - there are so many people doing good things for the world. Deeply impressive.

Financial Services Group gets up steam - Tuesday 6th 2010

Today the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies (now 12 with the International Bankers joining as observers) met with the new Sheriffs-elect to brief them and hear from them about their plans so far for the year ahead. Alderman Fiona Woolf and Richard Sermon both took part and engaged with enthusiasm, following in the footsteps of Alderman Michael Bear, prospective Lord Mayor for next year, whom we met a few weeks ago. It looks like a good year ahead.

The Group also gave its support for and inputs to a draft presentation I am preparing for the course run in September for Court Assistants and Wardens by the Livery Committee. It's intended to help Liverymen understand and champion the "Business City" as well as the "Civic City". Watch this space.

City-Golf Parallels Monday 5th July 2010

Last Monday Michael Harrison and Peter Short delivered a magnificent inter-livery golf day at Verulam Golf Club - home of the Ryder Cup. With 96 people either playing or attending socially, it was a great celebration of fellowship with other livery companies and organisations with whom we have a close relationship, such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing and St Dunstan's College.

The analogies between business and sport can be overplayed, with references to teamwork, achieving goals etc. But there seem to be parallels between the City of London and the game of golf.

Compared with other countries, the City has more of a principles-based framework for operations, rather than being rules-based. We all know the importance of integrity and trust e.g. "My word is my bond".

Golf is a self-managing sport. There are no referees. Players are expected to play with honesty and integrity, doing the honourable thing, declaring a penalty against oneself rather than doing what is personally advantageous.

Neither golf nor the City would claim to be perfect but, at their best, both aspire to the same enduring principles.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

History and mystery in Guildford, Sunday 27th June 2010

Inviting people to one's home town is a bit like boasting about one's children: others will see them (and it) through very different eyes. So my husband and I were relieved to have a sell-out for our afternoon in Guildford. It was, according to the weathermen, the hottest day of the year yet but, with hats on and water bottles in hand, we accompanied local historian Matthew Alexander on a gentle tour of the historic town.
The photos above show the group in the grounds of the castle (Henry III) and beside a statue of Alice through the Looking Glass, which celebrates the association of Lewis Carroll with the town.
We attended Choral Evensong at Holy Trinity Church (Robert Cotton's sermon addressed directly to the Worshipful Company of Marketors will be available shortly from with the full choir in great voice then had supper in the 17th century surroundings of Abbot's Hospital.
A full report will be in our journal, MARKETOR: suffice it that one visitor said at the end, "I never knew you lived in Paradise!"

A sword presented to St Dunstan's College CCF, Saturday 26th June 2010

I hope to have some "action" pictures from this event before long, but this is how the great hall at St Dunstan's College looked for their Combined Cadet Force dinner last weekend. It is the first opportunity that most of the students have to attend a black tie event and to learn the rules and expected behaviours. (And they more than lived up to expectations.)
It is an occasion for presenting prizes to both the Army and Royal Navy sections. Last year, Liveryman David Williams noticed that the senior Army Cadet was awarded a sword of honour, but that there was no equivalent for the senior Naval Cadet. This year he generously donated his Naval sword, which he bought as a junior officer some (many!) years ago, to be awarded in future to the senior Naval Cadet. The sword was handed from David to me as Master Marketor, then to the Headmistress and finally to the Contingent Commander, acquiring the new name, "The Coxswain's Sword" on the way. Later it was awarded to the first worthy recipient.
We also strengthened our relationship with St Dunstan's CCF by introducing a new award for a cadet instructor, one of the adult officers or warrant officers who give up so much time and energy to training and developing the young cadets. This idea was suggested by the current Lord Mayor and we have happily picked it up. The citation for the inaugural winner was greeted by the cadets with a spontaneous standing ovation and great emotion all round - a popular and deserving choice.

Common Hall - a Liveryman's duty, Thursday 24th June 2010

The Master Constructor, Dr Christine Rigden (about to be re-elected as an Ale Conner for the City) and the Master Information Technologist, Charles Hughes (who has just celebrated the award to his company of their Royal Charter) assembling with all the other Livery Company Masters in the Old Library at Guildhall. We were ordered into line in order of precedence, juniors first, then processed into the main hall where the election of Sheriffs takes place.
This is Common Hall, the meeting of the Livery Companies that takes place typically twice a year, once to elect the Sheriffs and the other time to elect the Lord Mayor. Liverymen are entitled to vote and I would encourage all Liverymen to do this at least once in their life. These elections can be contested, so your vote counts.
It is a splendid ceremonial occasion, memorable for the white gloves worn and the posies carried by the Aldermen, the Lord Mayor's huge black tricorn hat (with feathers to die for, Ladies) and the stentorian tones of the Common Cryer calling us to order and conducting much of the proceedings.
This is also the place where the Livery Committee, an organisation that represents all the Livery Companies, presents a report on its activities, including running various briefings and courses for introducing Freemen and Liverymen to the City .
Alderman Fiona Woolf was elected as only the third woman to be a Sheriff and, as she said, the tallest. She is an international lawyer with specialist expertise in the utilities sector. She is also currently the Mistress Tax Adviser i.e. the Master Tax Adviser's lady.
Richard Sermon was elected as the Lay Sheriff. He is a specialist in financial communications, corporate governance and reputation management (technically, he could be a Marketor). Our Clerk, Adele Thorpe, is one of his team of supporters so we have a personal connection with both Sheriffs for the coming year.

Master taken to the cleaners, Thursday 24th June 2010

Breakfast was offered to Masters and Clerks at the Butchers' Hall this morning, to promote their new catering service. Excellent it was too, and a good start to a long day electing the new Sheriffs and chairing a business court meeting.
At one point however I was thoroughly caught out, telling a story in which the phrase "Taken to the cleaners" featured. No sooner were the words out of my mouth than there was a mock-indignant protest from my right, "I take exception to those words!" by no less than the Master Launderer, Martyn Lewis. Whoops.

Echoes of genius, Tuesday 22nd June 2010

The choir of St Paul's Cathedral performed the Monteverdi Vespers to a full audience as part of the City of London Festival, which runs to 6th August.

Despite being a choral singer, I had never heard this work before but it is full of choral theatre with soloists positioned around the cathedral singing as echoes to a central soloist. Even cleverer, the echoer sings the end of the word previously sung by the main soloist, with a changed meaning. For example the first tenor sings, "Benedicam" (I bless) and the echo sings "Dicam" (I shall tell). Again, the first tenor sings, "Remedium" (to remedy) and the echo sings "Medium" (the mediator). Darned clever.

Monteverdi wrote it in 1610 as a job application for Maestro di Cappella at the Basilica of St Mark's in Venice. No surprises that he was appointed 4 days after the first performance.

Tea with the Queen, Tuesday 22nd June 2010

A quick snap taken on the way out of Buckingham Palace just to show you the hats - it was a very hot day so we were glad of them and the parasol. We had spent the afternoon in the gardens of Buckingham Palace together with about 6,000 others invited for one of HM The Queen's annual garden parties. The gardens are beautiful, with a lake and herbaceous border with blue delphiniums in bloom and everything else about to burst into flower. The roses were just blowing over but still glorious.
Everyone looks wonderful in their best outfits (many of the men looking drop-dead gorgeous in uniforms) and they all have an interesting story to tell, whether they are a Lord Lieutenant or a stalwart of the NHS, high or low, they have all contributed something to the civic life of the country.
The staff had catered for the heat with plentiful supplies of lemon squash from the outset, and iced coffee as an option for tea. There are three large tents serving tea, the Royal Tent identified by the gold crown on top of it. Through-the-line branding was evident in the small gold crowns topping the pieces of chocolate cake. By the end of the afternoon many of the ladies' feet had had enough and we saw some carrying their shoes as they made their way home.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Phew, what a scorcher! Week of 21st June 2010

Not only was last week the hottest of the year climatically, but it was one of the busiest in my year as Master so far, so I shall write up the events over the coming days.

To give you a taster:
Monday - flag-raising for Armed Forces day (see previous post)
Tuesday - garden party at Buckingham Palace followed by a concert at St Paul's Cathedral
Wednesday - meeting with this year's Marketors' committee chairmen to review progress
Thursday - breakfast at Butchers' Hall; election of the new Sheriffs at Guildhall; business court meeting.
Saturday - St Dunstan's College CCF Contingent dinner
Sunday - visit by 38 Marketors to historic Guildford

More in my next, as they say.

Monday, 21 June 2010

A priest in spurs? Monday 21st June 2010

Here we are at Guildhall today for the flagraising ceremony to start the week leading up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday 26th June. In the left hand picture you have the Chairman of our Regimental Liaison and Cadets Committee, Steven Rowe, flanked by Lieutenant Vivian Echeverry, leading four cadets from St Dunstan's College Combined Cadet Force, and Regimental Sergeant Major Scott Younger from 151 (London) Transport Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers). The CCF cadets themselves, who were a credit to their unit, are pictured on the right.
The ceremony was attended by the full Civic Party of the Lord Mayor, both Sheriffs and their ladies, a number of Aldermen and Common Councilmen, representatives from the armed forces, reserves and cadets and their civilian supporters. The sun beamed down on us as prayers were said and the flag raised over Guildhall. (I think I saw the Reverend Dr Bill Beaver wearing spurs under his clerical robes - he has a military history so it's possible.)
In his speech, the Lord Mayor made the point that we have had such a long period of peace in the UK that most people now do not have direct experience of military, naval or air force service. For this reason we need to pay attention to the relationship between the services and civilians and events like this week's help that purpose. We were given a short talk on UK armed forces current operations by Lt Cdr Andy Ingham RN which gave a good overview of our extensive commitments overseas in Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, UN support and counter-piracy activities.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Double duty with the Drapers and Information Technologists, Thursday 17th June 2010

A delightful day visiting Drapers' Hall, with its lovely garden containing mulberry trees - the fruit is used to make the dessert at their Ladies' event in the autumn. The site was originally owned by Thomas Cromwell (if you have read Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" you will know all about Austin Friars) but sold to the Drapers by Henry VIII after Cromwell's downfall.

From there a number of Livery Company Masters walked to St Paul's Cathedral for the start of the Charter celebrations for the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists. This is a great day for any company and we were luck enough to sit in the quire stalls (between the altar and the choir singing the Evensong service). Many congratulations to their Master, Charles Hughes, and the Liverymen and Freemen of the WCIT.

Fire! Fire! Wednesday 16th June 2010

Visited the museum of the London Fire Brigade as a guest of the Worshipful Company of Firefighters. First established in about 1830, it grew during the Victorian era into a professional and effective service held in high esteem worldwide. The most famous Chief Fire Officer, Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, was even mentioned in Gilbert & Sullivan's political opera, "Iolanthe".

Most memorable item: the fabulous crested helmets, originally copied from mainland Europe and made out of brass (in the days when most buildings were not electrified). The crests were allegedly to protect the wearer from falling debris, but actually just looked terrific. Even in today's kevlar versions, the trace of a crest can still be seen.

Ironbridge Museums Weekend - a "must visit" place, 11-13th June 2010

Last weekend about 80 livery company Masters and guests, making a total party of about 150, did a whistlestop tour of museums in the Ironbridge Gorge. You must have heard of this place but perhaps don't realise its significance in our industrial history.

This is where, 300 years ago, mass production of iron started. If you have children doing GCSE Chemistry they will have learnt about blast furnaces (limestone, iron ore and coke) and at the Coalbrookdale Museum you can see the real Old Furnace built by Abraham Darby. Originally designed to produce large quantities of cheap cooking pots for the poor (it actually said that in the patent application), this technique crashed through materials science of the day and enabled iron to become the construction and ornamental material of choice.

And that's just the start. Spectacular tiles, pottery and the reconstructed Victorian town of Blists Hill, all faithfully reproduced and peopled by enthusiastic volunteers all itching to engage you in their stories. Don't miss it.

The weekend ended with an agreement to form a Masters' Association for the "class of 2010", as a way of keeping in touch with each other after our years as Masters are over.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Fellowship with the Carmen - 7th June 2010

On Monday this week the Master, Wardens and Court of Assistants of the Worshipful Company of Carmen invited the Masters and Clerks of the livery companies with which they have a close relationship to lunch. The Carmen were originally carriers of goods and were responsible for traffic concepts like one-way streets and taxi ranks. They now have strong links with road haulage and other forms of transport but they still conduct the traditional and picturesque "Cart Marking" ceremony each year in Guildhall Yard (21st July this year).

It took place in the Officers' Mess of the Royal Logistic Corps at Regents' Park Barracks - this was interesting since our "own" 151 (London) Transport Regiment are also part of the RLC.

Interesting snippet of history: traditionally the RLC provides cars and drivers for Royalty whenever they attend military functions, and provide The Queen's Baggage Train for the use of the Sovereign and her guests, especially on State Visits.

Monday, 24 May 2010

A (Chief) Inspector calls at Mansion House - 21st May 2010

Allo, Allo, Allo - what's goin' on 'ere then?

Last Friday, the City of London police, led by their 'Chief Inspector' (aka Sir Nicholas Young, CEO of the British Red Cross), arrested 19 Masters of Livery Companies while they were enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee with Sheriff Peter Cook, fastened a ball and chain around their wrists and carted them off (in a vintage bus) to incarceration in the Tower of London.
Prior to being marched out of Mansion House under police escort, each Master was carpeted by the Chief Inspector (complete with belted trench-coat, and am dram skills on full bore) and charged with trumped up 'offences' for which only the payment of substantial 'bail' (a donation to the British Red Cross) would provide release.
We were welcomed at the Tower by a Yeoman Warder - take a look at that sharp halberd he's carrying - to the astonishment of the tourists. They certainly got their money's worth!

After being kept for a couple of hours on bread and water rations (12% proof, deliciously provided by Pol Roger) we paid our dues and were released to endanger the public once again.
Together we raised more than £25,000 for the British Red Cross, the Marketors contributing £1550. I am immensely grateful to the Marketors' Trust and all those who contributed personally to ensure my release.
And what were the nature of my 'offences'? Suffice it to say that there was much related to the fact that I was "A felon, of the female persuasion!"

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Shooting Stars - 19th May 2010

For the first time, the Marketors put a team into the Inter-Livery Clay Pigeon Shooting competition - a charity fundraiser organised by the Environmental Cleaners' Company.

From L to R they are Victor Chopin-John, Roger Howes, Anthony Fraser (team captain and Top Gun) and Graeme Doctor.

On a hot May day we joined 73 other Livery Companies at the immaculately-groomed grounds of Holland & Holland to test our skill against some hotshots - the Gunmakers' put in at least 7 teams. We didn't win any prizes, but we had great fun while contributing to the more than £40 million a year given by Livery Companies to charities.

A big thank you to Anthony, for taking the initiative. He even missed his lunch in order to dash across London to fulfil an Outreach commitment - a star indeed.

Scraping Facebook - ouch! 18th May 2010

Last night's seminar, well-organised by Simon Jacobs, attracted an inquisitive audience, ready to challenge our speaker panel on the use of new and old media by the political parties in the recent General Election. There were champions for each of three different views - that television, print and online media had been decisive drivers of the result.

As always, I learned a great deal - some of it articulating what I knew but had never put into words, others a complete revelation. Here are some of them (a little tongue in cheek):
  • We change our government more often than we change our mattress; except when we need a new one, we take little notice of our mattress; a new mattress doesn't always deliver the experience we expect.
  • Programmes that "scrape" people's facebook pages, can pick up their sentiments by analysing their vocabulary. A different sort of opinion poll.
  • The Americans approach their politics very differently from the Brits: they like to join up, to act on behalf of their party or leader, to belong to the movement. The Americans spend significantly more on communications than the Brits and spread out their campaigns over a much longer period. We Brits are more cynical about our politicians ("politics is a blood sport"), more reluctant to believe the messages and our voting habits are very difficult to change. We tend to use media of all kinds, and our network of friends and family, to reinforce existing views, rather than to seek out new data that might change our minds. So the "Obama effect" would be much less likely to be replicated in the UK.
  • Typically 20% of seats change in a British general election. In marginal seats, typically 10% of voters are considered "swingable" and will find themselves heavily targeted. Over the 5 years of the last Parliament, the total Labour vote fell by only (very roughly) 1 million votes.
  • Young people tend to use the internet for entertainment rather than research.
  • All the parties had online strategies, but they failed in execution - not sufficiently flexible to respond to fast-moving events.
  • The most effective, memorable messages were either fun (e.g. Duffy) or contained a surprising fact.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Would you like to become a Common Councilman or Sheriff? 13th May 2010

The Master of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Charles Hughes, faced every Master's nightmare last week, when his guest speaker for a Business Lunch fell ill and was unable to attend. But he had a great stand-in, because Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley was there to play the organ, and was able at short notice to deliver an entertaining after-lunch speech too.

The Master and Dr Parmley had two important messages for us:

  1. The Livery needs to promote itself more strongly, communicating especially the extent of its charitable giving and its pro bono outreach work for charities, schools and other deserving organisations.

  2. The Corporation of London is keen to encourage liverymen to put themselves forward as prospective Common Councilmen and Sheriffs. Dr Parmley is willing to talk to anyone who would like to find out more. You can contact him at

I'm sure that our own Alderman and Past Master, Sir Paul Judge, would also be willing to give advice.

To find job descriptions for the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Aldermen, Common Councilmen and others, go to this page and scroll down a little:

View Day at St Bartholomew's Hospital 12th May 2010

In 1551 the new governors of St Bartholomew's hospital initiated an annual inspection to review the state of the hospital and receive suggestions for improvement. Today Bart's Hospital still opens its doors annually to a visit by the Livery and other supporters, this year including the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs and their ladies.
The afternoon starts with choral evensong at St Bartholomew the Great, which is the original church founded with its priory for looking after travellers and the sick in 1123.

Later, we had the opportunity to visit the new cancer centre, which is just opening. We saw the most amazing bits of kit for treating cancerous tissue with extraordinary precision while leaving vulnerable, healthy organs undamaged. For example, if you have throat cancer, the treatment can unintentionally affect your saliva glands, so that for the rest of your life you have no saliva - horrid. With the new treatment, this no longer happens.
In one instance, the entire piece of equipment, weighing several tonnes, rotates around the patient; in another, the specialists create a plastic mesh mould for each patient which holds them almost completely still and in exactly the same place for each treatment. (This reminded me of the way that Formula 1 drivers have their seats individually moulded to their backsides.)
If ever I had cancer, this is where I would want to be treated.