Saturday, 17 December 2011

Carols at St Brides

On Monday last an unprecedentedly large number of Marketors attended the 46th annual carol service for the communications industry-and what better place than than Wren's St Brides the spiritual home of printing and the media for over 300 years and the home church now to a host of communications organisations who were all represented. The church when empty it is a place of great tranquility but for a carol service, with the St Brides choir, it is joyfully full of music.
The church is rightly famous for its choir, ( all professional singers) which was established in 1957 for the church's re dedication and which has remained more or less the same ever since. For a carol service they are in their element.
The service included many of the old favourite Christmas carols and seasonal readings. The Christmas message was delivered by Boris's sister, Rachel Johnson, erstwhile editor of the Lady magazine.
Afterwards 42 of us walked up Fetter Lane to the Grappalo Restaurant where we refreshed our throats and had a thoroughly enjoyable and convivial meal

Saturday, 10 December 2011

St Albans Coming Home

The Company were invited to send two members to join with our affiliated ship, HMS St Albans, at Lisbon for the final leg of its journey home from operations in the Persian Gulf. Hugh West and Jeremy Stern snapped up the chance to spend 6 days on board. You see them here on the left and to all intents and purposes this photograph makes it appear that they are on a windy deck of a luxury holiday cruise liner. In the interests of balanced reporting I show a photograph lower down of Hugh which makes it clear that they were on HMS St Albans.
I quote now short extracts from an interesting paper Hugh wrote about their experiences on board.
''Each department took us through a very detailed explanation of their role and many exercises were carried out to keep the crew on top form. This included fire drills, sea boat launches and firing salvoes from the main 4.5” gun managed by our excellent and patient host, the Principal Weapons Officer, Lt Cdr James Robey RN, as well as allowing us to fire their Gatling type mini gun and the general purpose machine guns personally. I declined the strong invitation to take part in the man overboard exercise which showed how efficient the crew handled emergencies.''

''The ship was over manned with additional crew and a Royal Marines detachment making accommodation rather tight. We were billeted with the Chief Petty Officers (they are very large!) and slept in a tier of three narrow steel bunks within a few inches of the raging Atlantic swell though the single-skinned hull. Showers and heads (toilets) were the deck above which proved a difficult passage when only dressed in a towel at 0600 hours!''

''After a final night we anchored in Spithead and the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Charles Montgomery CBE RN, visited the ship and made a speech to the whole crew, with us at attention, and then we weigh anchor and gently glide into sunny Portsmouth harbour to be greeted with columns of water from the fireboats and the emotional sight of hundreds of excited family members on the quay waiting to welcome home their loved-ones after their six month deployment accompanied by a Royal Marine Band.

''The experience was wonderful but it is the officers and crew that makes St Albans such an outstanding ship and I hope the Marketors’ affiliation with HMS St Albans will be of long-lasting mutual benefit and being in Home Waters, until her refit in 2013, there will be plenty of opportunities for us to reciprocate their hospitality.''

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

'London 1,000 Years'

'London 1,000 years: treasures from the collection of the City of London' is the title of a newly published book written and compiled by David Pearson, Director of Culture, Heritage and Libraries for the City of London Corporation. In celebration of the 600th anniversary of Guildhall the launch, attended by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, took place in the Great Hall last night.
The launch was an ancillary event to the main event which was a presentation by Dr Simon Thurley on the history of Guildhall. From it's origins in 1411, built on an even older Roman site, Dr Thurley used very fine slides to compare London's Guildhall with other Guildhalls in European Cities and even old Guildhalls elsewhere in England (Norwich being the biggest one outside London) He is a masterly speaker and held captive a very large audience as he talked through the history of the Guildhall up to the present day.
He was followed by David Pearson who touched on a minute percentage of the City's enormous historical collection--70 kilometres of archive shelving just to hold what is not on display. The Corporation looks after collections on national importance going back to the Norman conquest. It even includes an original copy of Magna Carta, an original First Folio of Shakespeare and more records, paintings, books, manuscripts, gold and silver than one can easily get one's brain round. The book is a delight and a pictorial treasure trove. I would unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Annual City Lecture

Last week we held our Annual City Lecture in the beautiful environment of Goldsmiths' Hall. Despite it being a Friday night it was a well attended event with the Masters of 26 other Livery Companies present as guests of the Company, with their Clerks.
Pre lecture drinks led on to a stunning presentation, using digital slides and video, from the guest speaker Jeannette Liendo. As Sir Paul Judge said in introducing her, she is Brazilian, was educated in Switzerland and lives in Paris. She is the Global Marketing Director, Corporate, for Microsoft. As I explained when I opened the evening it is impossible to have a year themed, as mine is, on the subject of Innovation without having a major speaker to talk on the subject which is the most innovative in our life time -the digital revolution. And who better than Jeannette.
An accomplishes presenter she explained how Microsoft approach innovation both in process and culturally. She then showed a video on the future of digital--the innovations that exist today but are not yet, as she put it, 'distributed' i.e in general circulation. What looked like science fiction actually now exists and will in time be rolled out for public consumption. Whether everyone in the audience fully grasped all that she said I don't know but it certainly left a terrific impression.
After a virtuoso performance we retired from the main hall to the outer rooms for a delightful supper.

Solicitors' Dinner

Last Tuesday I was at the Livery Dinner of the Worshipful Company of Solicitors held in Carpenters Hall. And a very fine dinner it was with exquisite wines. I discovered from the Past Master next to whom I was sitting that the Company buys its wine en primeur, keeps it until mature and then drinks it at dinners years later. As an en primeur buyer myself I was full of admiration at this policy.
The after dinner speaker was Lady Justice Hallet, Vice President, High Court, Queen's Bench Division. She was, unsurprisingly, eloquent and spoke of the potential hazards facing the profession from the lowering of standards, due to three emerging factors : firstly the rise of conditional fees where fees are related to outcome (ambulance chasing as us non-lawyers describe it); secondly education and the watering down of qualifications (very serious if true); and lastly Regulation, where lay regulators are applying a 'light touch'. As she herself made clear at the beginning of her speech this was not an after dinner speech full of jokes but even for non-lawyers it was very interesting.However talking defensively to her own kind one was reminded of Mandy Rice Davis's famous comment ''well he would say that wouldn't he''.

Red Cross Christmas Market

Held every two years in the historic Great Hall at Guildhall--and spilling over into the Old Library so great is it, the Red Cross Christmas Market is a tremendous event. Written up in an earlier Clerk's Notices, Marianne and I went on Monday evening to this two day event. It's enormous and enormous fun--all for charity. There are over 80 stalls selling at rock bottom prices an eclectic mix of goods from nearly new designer label clothes to bags and accessories; international foods; jewellery; fair trade crafts; books and much, much more. If you wanted unusual gifts it was a treasure trove. My credit card was damaged accordingly.
On Monday evening there was live music, endless champagne and canapes and Julian Fellows, the writer behind Downton Abbey, giving the welcome.
It was a wonderfully atmospheric experience in a magnificent setting with a unique selection of merchandise not found on the High Street. It was interesting to see a lot of members and Masters of other Livery Companies there. Indeed many Companies had their own stalls-it would be nice to think we could arrange this in future years.