Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Reflections of a former Cabinet Secretary

The annual lecture of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Adminstrators, The Rivers Lecture, was held last night in the magnificent opulence of Drapers Hall. It was a quite excellent occasion.
It was excellent for a number of reasons : a wonderful environment, a brilliant speaker and a very good buffet to finish. Principally however it was the speaker who made the evening : Lord Richard Wilson of Dinton.

Lord Wilson is a distingushed Civil Servant and an Honorary Freeman of the Company. He entered the Civil Service in 1966 and held progressively more senior positions until he rose to become Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service. Such a career, dealing with Cabinet Ministers and P.Ms  Thatcher, Major and Blair provides a rich vein of stories. And did we get them. Not just fascinating insights into the top level of politics and the characters who inhabit that level but jokes and anecdotes galore. To use a vulgar phrase it is true to say he had the audience 'rolling in the aisles'. This man is wasted he could easily be a stand up comedian at the Comedy Store.

And then into dinner. I was seated in the Court dining room which is every bit as grand as the other roms at Drapers Hall. I couldn't help noticing a beautiful fresco on the ceiling of Jason holding aloft the golden fleece whilst his helpmate and wife, Medea, simperingly clings adoringly to him. Here is a small part of the fresco.

Yes, I know, it looks like a dead dog. Why the Drapers would want this picture on the ceiling of their Court dining room who knows, not least because the lower part of the fresco, sadly not shown here,  features the obligatory recling nude lady--very undraped I'd say.


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