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.

"This country is so weird!" 11th May 2010

The Venerable Archdeacon, David Meara, with his Churchwardens and Mace-Bearer, pausing at the last stop while Beating the Bounds. This is an ancient ceremony at Rogationtide that has been revived in many parishes in recent years. Originally, in the middle ages, when written maps were almost unknown and precise parish boundaries could be uncertain, this annual perambulation was a way of impressing on people's minds the limits of the parish so that the information was passed on from one generation to another. We carry canes and beat the ground at the stopping points, crying, "Cursed be he who removeth his neighbour's landmark!"
As we stepped out along Fleet Street (Master and Junior Warden, Sally Muggeridge, in the picture above) I heard one American on his mobile phone saying (and remember this was the day following the formation of the new coalition government), "This country is so weird!"

This year the Marketors joined forces with the Castle Baynard Ward Club and representatives of the Turners' Company to Beat the Bounds of St Brides Church. Alderman Ian Luder (the Late Lord Mayor) accompanied us with his Beadle, both of them in full robes - a great treat.
Earlier we had attended our annual service of thanksgiving and rededication - a highlight of the Livery year - with Archdeacon Meara conducting the service and the outstanding choir of St Brides singing with great sensitivity and energy for us.
We returned from Beating the Bounds to supper and typical Marketors' buzzy fellowship at the St Bride Institute.
This is a three-part event that takes a lot of organising. Hearty thanks to Barbara Thomas, John Wheen, Diane Morris and all the others who were involved and helped in so many ways.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Two Marketors in the new coalition Cabinet

We were all delighted and proud to hear this week that Liveryman Theresa May has been appointed Home Secretary and Liveryman Cheryl Gillan, Welsh Secretary, in the new Cabinet. Our hearty congratulations to them both. We wish them wisdom, courage, patience and persistence in their new roles.

From the perspective of a business person, I am delighted to see politicians adopting teamwork in a way that is absolutely the norm in business life. Building coalitions of support for a shared objective is a key skill for any effective leader. Here's to 'grown-up' politics!

Monday, 3 May 2010

A "Curry Lunch virgin" at large Thursday 29th April 2010

The Lord Mayor organises a HUGE curry lunch each year in support of the Army Benevolent Fund, one of the key military charities. Alderman (and Past Master) Paul Judge is on the organising committee and the Marketors contribute to the charity, so we are able to get tickets for the event.

It was the first time I had attended and it's quite an occasion: mass organisation and catering in the hands of various army, territorial and university officer training units, with guns (machine guns, small artillery) dotted around Guildhall Yard and abundant different uniforms from combat gear to full fig with medals. The bottom picture shows the collection of hats, belts and sticks in the Guildhall cloakroom, each one with its ticket pinned to it as if they were in a raffle.

It was a timely chance to meet more Livery Masters while we were awaiting the arrival of the Prince of Wales (yes, he did shake hands with all of us and pause for a few words). I am now just over 3 months into my year; there are a few newly-installed Masters arriving on the circuit so I'm no longer the new-girl. (And there are about half a dozen female Masters this year.)

We plunged into the melee which is the Great Hall, lined with tables serving curries, drinks and soldiers taking £20 notes off us for the raffles and much larger bids for an auction of promises for unique experiences. I had a go for a behind the scenes visit to the Royal Mews and a sky dive (must be mad). There was limited space at tables for eating but I am glad that they found a slot for an old soldier - my father, who was attending too and thoroughly enjoying himself.

Let's hope they made a lot of money to support the men and women who give more than most of us ever have to contemplate in the service of us, the citizenry.

Fujitsu does us proud

From left to right, Roger Hood, Brigadier Richard Rook, Steven Rowe (Chairman of the Regimental & Cadet Liaison Committee).

Last week Fujitsu hosted a wonderful reception and dinner for newish Freemen of the Marketors and junior leaders (officers and warrant officers) of "our" TA Regiment - 151 Logistic Corps. The idea was the brainchild of Richard Christou, who is both a Marketor and a senior vice-president of Fujitsu, as a way of building relationships at an early stage of their careers between people who will form the future leaders of both organisations. It is a commendably long-term perspective which I warmly welcome as a dimension of this year's Sustainability theme.

Fujitsu is one of the largest suppliers of IT equipment and services to the UK Ministry of Defence. The highlight of the evening was a discussion, facilitated by Roger Hood (triple-hatting as Past Master Marketor, Brigadier TA and Defence Adviser to Fujitsu), between "customer" (151 Regiment) and "supplier", about how the current products and services could be developed further. Nice market research, Roger!

Brigadier Richard Rook spoke about the increasing profile of 151, using as an example their recent spectacular success at the General Officer Commanding's competition, where they not only organised the event, but also won each of the three parts. (Richard assured us that they had not been in charge of the adjudication!)

The growing significance of Outreach projects

Last week three Marketors met Bob Bryan and Claire Seaton of our affiliated church, St Brides. Barbara Thomas chairs our committee that liaises with St Brides and Michael Harrison chairs the Outreach committee.

Bob and Claire are both members of the wonderful, professional St Bride's choir. I am delighted that when they wanted some help with (in a broad sense) publicising the choir, they turned to the Marketors. We shall be happy to respond.

In the course of the conversation, Michael mentioned that we now have 60 Outreach projects running, of all kinds. This is a significant number and shows how far we have come since the start made in Past Master David Collischon's year, and taken forward by (now Middle Warden) John Flynn.

I salute all Marketors who give their time pro bono for the benefit of others -it's what Livery Companies do and is particularly apt in the year when we shall receive our Charter.