Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Banks and others


On receiving an invitation from St Brides to a discussion on "Holding the City to Account" I must admit that we hesitated, and when the venue moved to St Mary's in the Elephant and Castle, very nearly gave our appologies. However we would have missed a very timely treat. It was the day that the Barcleys Bank rate fixing story broke. The speakers included Greg Palest, author of "Vultures' Picnic", a renowned investigative journalist, and expert on corporate exploitation and corruption. He was joined by Brain Basham, veteran financial PR person who could be regarded as poacher turned game keeper when it came to the question of the City and particularly banking and political ethics.

Opinions from the platform ranged beween the belief that in the least regulated society the worst people rise to the top, and that the Euro crisis is being used to eliminate regulations, through to the belief that corporations manage the world, not politicians. The latter point was ably illustrated by Greg Palest. I was going to raise the subject of Hubris, championed by Lord Owen, but it seemed inappropriate as the audience appeared to be made up largely of the St Pauls brigade.

The Q & A session was mainly devoted to what to do to the bankers and the degree to which the City needed to change. Little time was spent on how to do it and with what. Against the might of the corporate and banking enemy there was the hint of a Dad's Army defensive. There is a need for politicians to turn on the exploiters - but first they must understand their opponents.

As we left we bought Greg's book, "Vultures' Picnic". It looks like a frighteningly revealing, yet somehow entertaining, read.

John Flynn
Master Marketor  

Monday, 25 June 2012

A New Sheriff in Town


To be accurate it is two Sheriffs and they are in the City. For over 800 years the Liverymen of the City of London have gathered at the Guildhall to elect two new Sheriffs, one of whom may, in time, become the Lord Mayor of London. It  happened again today in the presence of over 600 Liverymen, all 108 Masters and other City dignatories in an assembly called Common Hall. In addition such roles as Bridge Masters, Ale Conners and Auditors were elected together with the members of the Livery Committee.  Interestingly, there being no political parties in the City, all were elected on merit by their peers.

Afterwards I met with the Mistress and we, together with other Marketors, ajourned to the Farmer & Fletchers Hall for a Livery Luncheon, first stopping off at our office in One London Wall to deposit my gown and chain and sign off various documents. As always the meal, this time comprising of Crab, Duck and Eton Mess, was excellent as was the wine. However the delight was the seating which, on such an occasion, is mainly on the basis of drawing a ticket from a hat. I had a Baroness one side, a fabric designed the other and a firefighter and the Mistress infront of me - so some facinating conversations. 

Not only a very pleasant lunch but also, and more importantly, we have elected two fine Sheriffs for the next year.

John Flynn
Master Marketor

Sunday, 24 June 2012

151 Regiment


The 151 Regiment Oficers' Mess Guest Night was, on this occasion, held in the delightful setting of Amport House near Andover. Home of the Army Chaplaincy, and housing their museum, the house is located in splendid grounds and surrounded by delightful gardens. However, the most outstanding feature of the weekend was, as always, the hospitality shown to us by the officers of 151 Regiment led by Commanding Officer Lt Col Adrian Lee.

Starting at 4pm with tea, this gave us the opportunity to stroll around the gardens and later visit the museum which covers the history of British Army Chaplaincy, a role that dates back to 338 AD. And so to the dinner where I had the opportunity to thank Lt Col Adrian Lee for his support in developing the relationship between our two organisations, and to wish him all the best for his career as he is moving on in October.

As always, we later retired to the bar where conversations and fellowship continued late into the night. However, this did not deter people from breakfast the following morning which, as might be expected, was a full English. As always an excellent occasion and much thanks to Liveryman Hugh West for the work he put in as Event Director.

John Flynn
Master Marketor

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Butcher Baker


The Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery was designed to celebrate 850 years of London's Livery Companies through a display of some of their treasure. Starting today with a special evening reception, the exhibition is then open to the public until 23rd September. Treasures range from the Weavers Charter of 1155 through to a from life painting of Henry VIII handing the Charter to the Barber Surgeons in 1541. More up to date was the impressive Goldsmiths plate to commemorate the Millennium. A truly impressive display of the origins, craft and pageantry of the Livery.

While the Marketors treasures were not included, our skills were on display in all aspects of the marketing of the exhibition. This was because our Court Assistant Peter Rees, via the Outreach Programme, had been supporting this aspect of the project; he was also in attendance this evening. Attended by almost all Livery Masters and other City dignitaries and supporters this was a delightful opening of an impressive display.

John Flynn
Master Marketor

Friday, 22 June 2012

City Livery


It was the Mansion House today and yesterday. Yesterday it was lunch, or to be precise, almost two dinners. We (Master, Mistress and Clerk) were at a tasting in the afternoon to decide the fare for the Marketors banquet in July. As always, an interesting occasion which I feel sure will result in an excellent selection of food and wine.

Today, or rather this evening, we attended the City Livery Club's Civic Reception and Dinner at the Mansion House where we were greeted by the new President Michael Hudson. While I was announced during the presentations as a guest of the Club, I was in fact a guest of my wife Brenda who is the member of the club. It was an excellent evening with some familiar faces from the Livery and the Marketors including Valerie Boakes who is Past President of the Club and also Liveryman of the Marketors. Not surprisingly the Lord Mayor was in attendance with the Lady Mayoress, after all it is home for their year. The reply on behalf of the guests was given by Sheriff Alan Yarrow who, coincidentally, will be addressing us at the Marketors banquet. So a small world in the City.

In all an excellent two days mainly centred around the Mansion House.

John Flynn
Master Marketor

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

PM's and Schubert


The life of a Master is never dull, and certainly wasn't today. First came the Past Master's Lunch at the Guildhall. While a pleasant occasion with, of course, excellent company, it is in effect a mid term review of the Masters year. Needless to say, I cannot divulge what was discussed as it was under Chatham House Rules, however I can advise that it seemed to go well. Which is more than can be said for the second event that day.

The Spittlefields Music Summer Festival in June is one of two they produce in Tower Hamlets throughout the year. We were kindly invited to an evening reception at Shoreditch Town Hall and then to Shoreditch Church for a concert by the Schubert Ensemble. The programme included Martinu, Dvorak and a new piece by Huw Watkins. The music was challenging and rewarding and we were wrapped in it when, as they approached the end of the second movement of the Martinu Piano Quartet No.1 H287, the viola players instrument seemed to explode. The explanation was that "the gut at the end had snapped". Not carrying a spare, a member of the audience offered to pop home and get another one - home only being 5 minutes away. So a brief interlude and they were back on track.  While not our usual taste in music it is always exciting to experience such skill and emotion. 

John Flynn
Master Marketor

The Games: Pure Marketing Gold?


The Worshipful Companies of Marketors, Stationers and Information Technologists joined together to create the 2012 Summer Forum which was entitled "London Games 2012: Pure Marketing Gold". Held this evening at the impressive Stationers Hall it attracted an audience of over 100 from a wide range of professions. With speakers from McCann Worldgroups and Lloyds TSB together with representatives from specialist agencies Space and Unruly Media the presentations explored how brand sponsorship, behavioural understanding and digital media will impact the London Olympics 2012.

The insight into the benefits and challenges of the games for the corporate sponsors put their £1.3bn investment into perspective. For many the return will relate to brand awareness and sales while others will gain from the changes created within their own organisations. These revelations, plus the discussions after with the speakers and other guests, created an informative and entertaining evening for the Mistress and I, and proved that cooperation between Livery Companies can benefit all.

John Flynn
Master Marketor

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Leeds Castle


The weekend involved us in a trip to Leeds Castle which, as most will know, is actually in Kent. Modestly promoted  as "the loveliest castle in the world" it is indeed a delightful place which contains 900 years of history. A beautiful sight, set in 500 acres of rolling Kent countryside, the castle was the perfect location for a Worshipful Company of Actuaries banquet. Hosted by the Master John Lockyer together with Mistress Anita, guests included the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, David and Liz Wootton. Dinner in the Henry VIII Banqueting Hall was preceded by a tour of the castle.

An excellent meal and delightful company made this an event to remember. In addition to learning of the fascinating history of the castle, both ancient and modern, we met with, amongst others, the Master Blacksmith Don Barker and his wife Barbara only to discover that he is actually a working blacksmith. I would guess one of the few practising Masters amongst the older companies. In addition Barbara was about to become a Pattenmaker, originally makers of a type of clog or overshoe. Being involved with the Livery is never dull.

Carriages were at 11:45 but we had the fore site to stay over in the grounds, in fact it the converted stable block. There was an excellent view of the gardens and a hearty full English the following morning . A really great weekend.

John Flynn
Master Marketor

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Firefighters Function


And so, with the Mistress, to Winchester House in Southwark, which is located next to our local fire station. This was once the home of Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, the first Chief Fire Officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade from 1861 to 1891 who is considered to be the father of the modern fire service. We were greeted by the Master of the Worshipful Company of Firefighters, Peter Cowland, who provided a history of both the house and Sir Massey Shaw's amazing contribution to the fire service worldwide. This was followed by a tour of the Brigade's Museum which, in itself, was fascinating but with a guide who had spent his whole career in the service, really came to life. A buffet supper followed where the guests, most of whom had been at Ironbridge a few days before, had an opportunity to mingle. A delightful, entertaining and enlightening evening.

John Flynn
Master Marketor 

Monday, 11 June 2012



As I approached the time when I might become Master, several Past Masters recommended that I tried to get to the Ironbridge event - a weekend away for some Masters and their partners. It seems that there was a Dinner one evening and a Ball the other and, Ironbridge being the "the birthplace of industry", the days were taken up with touring around the 10 museum in the area in this World Heritage Site. It sounded interesting and so we booked.

The reality was that in all, 98 Companies were represented at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Livery Weekend together with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress David and Liz Wootton plus Past Lord Mayor Sir Michael Bear and ex Mayoress Barbara. I discovered that one of the actions for the trip was the formation of a club for the Masters of this period which, to judge from previous ones, will create a long lasting relationship between us all. Not to be out done, the Mistresses, Masters Ladies and Consorts also formed their own club. Both are to be called the Diamonds.

So where to start in describing the event. The first outing was The Livery Dinner on Friday night which took place at the Covered Bays at Coalbrookdale. Four coaches took us to this spacious and historic venue at which, in addition to an excellent meal and great company, we were introduced to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust which had organised the event.  At 9:30 the following morning our four coaches took us, in different orders to some of the museums including Coalport China, Jackfield Tiles, The Gorge, Iron Bridge & Tollhouse, Iron fine art, and the amazing Blists Hill Victorian Town. The latter is several streets with shopkeepers and tradesmen actively going about their business as they would have all those years ago. It even had a working fun fair of the time.  The day was punctuated by a hearty lunch back at the Covered Bays.

And so, in the evening, the Ball at The Engine Shop in Coalbrookdale. The reception, and the ball later, was held in the adjoining Enginuity an area full of gadgets, or what could be called boys toys. Designed as a fun way to introduce children to engineering - we loved it. The dinner was again excellent with fellowship flowing like wine.  And so, eventually, to bed. The following morning started with the inaugural meeting of both sets of Diamonds and followed with a trip to the Derby Houses and the Costume Project. As this required your own transport, and we were feeling a little jaded from the previous exertion, we decided to pass on this and start a leisurely trip back to London.

As did previous Masters, we can thoroughly recommend this outing to our successors. It was a wonderful weekend at which we made many new friendships which will, almost certainly, remain for many years to come.

John Flynn
Master Marketor  

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant


Where to start in describing this never to be forgotten day. The first place must be in thanking those that helped to make it happen. Middle Warden, Roddy Mullin, for finding the location at such short notice and then Liveryman Jane Wharam for making it happen. While Jane had the support of Annie Brooks this, never the less, was a daunting task particularly in the time allowed, but the result was a professional and smooth running event.

We viewed the pageant from the Mermaid Conference Centre, which was until recently the Mermaid Theatre. It overlooks the Thames between Blackfriers and the Millennium Bridge and offers a backdrop on the Southbank of Shakespeare's Globe and the Tate Modern. This was truly a family event and members came from as far afield as Chester and Newcastle. On arrival we had our own entrance and were greeted in a suitably bedecked room with a much welcome drink. Lunch followed and the fellowship for which the Marketors are noted was much to the fore.

And then came the moment, the first ship in the pageant, a vessel containing eight church bells joyously peeling out. While we were doubled glazed, the assembled guests went silent for a moment and we heard the chimes as we did with the bands, orchestras and choirs that followed. Next came the multitude of vessels being rowed, and then the Queens Barge. At 210ft long this was an amazing sight as it emerged from under Blackfriers Bridge. Fortunately for us everyone had a good view, which is more than could be said for many of those below us on the embankment in the rain. The Mistress and I, having been around for the Coronation, recalled that it was the same weather then.

As I said at the time, nobody does it better. The whole long weekend is, of course, a tribute to Her Majesty and her 60 years reign, but it is also a reflection of the country's ability to stage such outstanding events.

It was a truly memorable day, a once in a lifetime event that we were fortunately able to share with so many Marketors and their families and friends.

John Flynn
Master Marketor

Friday, 1 June 2012

Common Hall


It has been some time since we held a Common Hall, and so where better to gather than the Guildhall. I was delighted to find that those attending included Past Masters, Wardens, Court Assistant, committee chairs and members, and those Liverymen who  had a genuine interest in the workings of the company and its future. 

While a Livery Company is different to any other organisation, Common Hall is generally regarded as the equivalent of an AGM, and so there were brief reports from the equivalent of its “officers”. These included our Learned Clerk Adele Thorpe who outlined our financial position and that of the Marketors Trust; Senior Warden Sally Muggeridge who addressed Funding, Membership Development and Activities; Middle Warden Roddy Mullin who covered Reaching Out and Influencing Opinion; and Junior Warden Michael Harrison who discussed Alliances and Communications. This was followed by me reviewing the possible future structure and direction of the Company. 

Each report was well received and there followed a very lively Q&A session which continued into the buffet supper. In my view this was an extremely valuable event and one which I would strongly recommend is repeated each year. An annual report to the Liveymen on the activities of the Company not only keeps them informed, but is a way of measuring the Company's progress, a key issue as we develop our Strategic Plan for both the medium and long term.  

John Flynn
Master Marketor