Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A Budget Dinner and a Taxing time Tuesday 25th February

Off to Stationers’ Hall with the Assistant Clerk to be guests of the Master Tax Adviser, Nicholas Goulding, for the Company’s Budget Banquet.
The Master was tonight hosting the Modern Livery Companies that comprise the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies, of which our Livery is a very supportive and active member, assisting the Mayoralty. To that end a group photograph of the FSG Masters was taken. I was delighted to be seated next to the Master’s wife, the Revd Amanda Goulding.  We had many acquaintances in common and shared church challenges and clerical humour.
The Chaplain said the Company's grace in Latin which was impressive. In December 2000 the Court of Aldermen constituted the Guild a City Company without Livery. Four years later, on 18 January 2005, the Court of Aldermen approved the Grant of Livery as the 107th Company in order of preference. It was certainly not a budget banquet commented the speaker, Professor Anthony Mellows, Lord Prior of the Order of St John, as dinner ended.  It was a fine feast no less. Engaging us all in a quiz he regaled us about the College of Arms. The law of heraldic arms (or laws of heraldry) governs the "bearing of arms", and the annual tax on coats of arms was repealed in 1945. Still to this day the heralds do not pay any tax but each year voluntarily send a cheque to HMRC for the amount they would expect to pay, if requested.  Nice work if you can get it.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Court Meeting Thursday 21st February

Chaired my first Court Meeting this afternoon as Master - very good attendance by members of Court.   Started the meeting by installing Chris Robinson as a Court Assistant - he was committed to being on holiday at the time of the Installation Dinner.

One of our first priority tasks was to approve the appointment of a new Clerk and also to put in hand a shortened process to elect a Junior Warden to quickly fill what is known in our Ordinances as a "Casual Vacancy".   Both these vacancies to "Officers of the Company" have unfortunately served to hold back the printing of a new Members Directory so it is hoped to settle the outstanding appointment as soon as possible.

Mansion House - The City of London Monday 18th February

‘The City - The Jewel in our Crown’ 
The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor, Alderman Roger Gifford, welcomed a large group of Masters and Clerks, as well as City business leaders, to Mansion House in the early evening to hear a speech on the UK economy by the Deputy Prime Minister.
The Lord Mayor introduced Mr Clegg and, after a short allocution, the Deputy Prime Minister set the tone of the evening by announcing that he had thought about coming tonight to talk about a Mansion tax.  After nervous laughter from the audience had subsided he did say he was very impressed with the surroundings of the Egyptian Room.
The Rt Hon Nick Clegg stated that ‘Tonight I’d like to focus on regional growth; enterprise outside of London. A topic I know is close to the Lord Mayor’s heart too. I’m told that in his first three months since taking office he’s travelled to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, to look at how the City can deepen its partnership with all of the UK’s nations and regions. The Corporation understands the point that was – sadly – missed by the mainstream political elite for too long: we need to rebalance our economy away from its overreliance on London and the South East’.
The opportunity was then taken by the Deputy Prime Minister to announce twenty more areas of England that are to be given greater independence from Whitehall under the new "city deal" scheme. Mr Clegg said the British economy needs "major rebalancing" to shift focus away from London and south-east England. We were advised that eight of England's major cities outside of London are already part of the initiative to boost jobs and growth. 
There would also be a restoration of spending powers to some authorities in cities and districts across England.  Mr Clegg went on to warn us that without this the UK could miss out on £41bn of growth year-on-year. He said: ‘London will always be at the heart of the UK's economy, and the envy of the world: open, global, dynamic, diverse, unmatched in its talent and expertise. But we have other strengths too, in other industries, in other places. There can and must be more than one jewel in our crown.’
At the conclusion of his speech, Mr Clegg announced that there was time for a few questions and answers. Concerns were expressed at the rate and pace of change that allowed little time for reflection and review on many major decisions that would affect the City and jobs.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Marketing Valentines Day

 Off to Maidenhead by train on Wednesday for a meeting of the Academic Senate of the Chartered Institute of Marketing on the 14th.  Tradition is to dine the evening before our meeting and to stay the night at Moor Hall Cookham.  I was booked into Room 41, known as the Honeymoon Suite, very appropriate on the eve of Valentines were it not for the fact of being without my other half.
The Academic Senate advises the CIM on all matters pertaining to educational policy, maintenance and establishment of standards of The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s education provision and qualifications, and matters concerned with research into the subject of marketing.   The meetings are always full and very interesting.

Bruno Romano, Sally Muggeridge, Malcolm McDonald & Beverley Jullien

Following lunch I accompanied Professors Malcolm McDonald and John Egan, both Marketors,  to London South Bank University for an evening presentation on marketing.  It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the students to hear from Malcolm.  I met up with Beverley Jullien, the Pro Vice Chancellor who I know well from the Chartered Director Committee of the IOD.  Arrived back home for a late Valentines Dinner with my husband David.

Ash Wednesday 13th February

Today marks the beginning of Lent, the season when Christians should start to prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.  Not sure how I’m going to square this in with the several Dinners coming up in coming weeks.

As a lay minister I suppose should explain that Ash Wednesday emphasises two themes: our sinfulness before God and our human mortality – dust to dust, ashes to ashes.  I attended the “Imposition of Ashes”  service at St Bride’s, Fleet Street, the mother church of the Marketors’ Company. This was a Choral Eucharist and provided a further occasion to once again appreciate the fine professional choir of St Bride’s including the singing of Allegri’s beautiful Miserere with its famous “high C”.

As part of this service, our Honorary Chaplain and Rector of St Bride’s David Meara lightly rubbed the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of those many present at the altar rail.  The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Christian worship.  Historically, ashes signified purification and sorrow for sins.  It is the custom in many churches to save the palm branches from the Palm Sunday service of the previous year to burn to produce ashes for this service.
The traditional period of fasting in Lent in the run up to Easter is of course 40 days and 40 nights  –  the period Jesus spent in the wilderness.  Ash Wednesday however comes 46 days before Easter.  This is because the six Sundays in Lent are feast days, a weekly “welcome break” from the fast. So whatever you have given up for Lent – you can indulge in on Sundays.  I only mention this little known fact wearing a marketing “hat”.   With an early Easter, Valentine’s Day, advertised and promoted as a big day for the sale of chocolates, unusually falls within Lent this year!  Save them for Sunday?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Livery Pancake Races Guildhall Tuesday 12th February

Shrove Tuesday  - traditionally a day when we use up all our flour, eggs and fat in expectation of the start of Lent the following day – Ash Wednesday.
All assembled in Guildhall Yard on a very cold winter’s morning, I was accompanied by Liverymen Leslie Wilson and Annie Brooks.  Senior Warden Michael Harrison, Court Assistants John Hooper and David Williams, and Freeman Utz Reiff were also there among others to cheer me on.
Health and Safety concerns were emphasised by loudspeaker several times as the surface of the Guildhall Yard is notoriously slippery, to say the least.  In other circumstances, if we had not been where we were, with tradition bearing on the side of annual foolishness, I suspect some HSE representative would have packed us all off home.
The Lady Mayoress opened the event, recounting the ancient history of pancake races.  Sadly, the Marketors were not eligible this year to field a full team, and so it was all up to me in the Masters’ Qualifying Race.  Masters are required to wear a chef’s hat, their Master’s robe and badge, and an apron – as well as rather welcome gloves, and of course carry a surprisingly heavy pan with pancake, all of which contributes to make quite a handicap in a fast sprint!  Masters very generously cheered each other on.  However, with stiff competition (from cold?) and up against longer and more reckless legs than mine I was alas not successful in qualifying us to put a team in next year so we will have to rely on the Senior Warden to get us back in the full competition in 2014.
The Pancake Races, brilliantly organised by the Poulters’ Company, have become a regular and well attended fun event in the City programme – run over the years in (and despite) all weathers.  With a welcome hot mug of Carrot and Coriander soup in the Crypt to revive us all from the terrible chill outside, we reflected on the sheer eccentricity of the event and the fun.  An excellent lunch followed, and the just desserts were of course – pancakes.
As souvenirs of the event we came away with commemorative mugs and aprons – but sorry, no engraved copper frying pan this year.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Extraordinary Court Meeting 8th February

A Court Meeting was held on Friday 8th February specifically for the purpose of electing wardens for 2013. 
The election had been brought about by the resignation of Senior Warden-elect Roddy Mullin, thus creating a vacancy for the Senior Warden to serve in 2013.
The decision of the Court was to elect Michael Harrison as Senior Warden and Andrew Marsden as Middle Warden.  They were subsequently invested by me at a special Ceremonial Court, first into their expected roles as Middle and Junior Wardens and then in their advanced roles as Senior and Middle Wardens.
Senior Warden Michael Harrison

Middle Warden Andrew Marsden

I welcome Michael and Andrew into their positions and look forward to working with them.  The task still remains to elect a new Junior Warden and a process to fill this vacancy will be commenced shortly.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The City of London in Music at St Vedast Church Wednesday 6th February

On the day that the life of St Vedast is celebrated, a Bishop chiefly remembered for his patience, meekness and Charity, I was invited to the Church by Alderman and Sheriff Jeffrey Evans and Sheriff Nigel Pullman for a concert in aid of the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund.  The S&R Fund was founded in 1808 to help prisoners and their families in Newgate to start a new life and today gives London’s ex-offenders the chance of a job, a stable family and home and a law-abiding life.  For those on probation it provides training and tools of trade, clothing and household equipment.
At St Vedast, now alias Foster Church as a derivative of its name and located close to Goldsmith’s Hall in Foster Lane, I learned about the Root and Branch Bill of 1641 that provided the popular expression in the Livery world meaning ‘the whole of it without exceptions or omissions’.  The Puritans who supported the bill to abolish the Episcopacy were known as ‘Root and Branch men’ or ‘Rooters’. Let’s be careful what we wish for when we use those words!
The evening was a deluge of delight with music, singing, poems, readings and anecdotes performed by a distinguished cast of performers – actress Josephine Tewson and actor William Gaunt – with accompaniment from the Church’s Director of Music and two wonderful singers, Martha Jones and Catherine Rogers.
I was particularly pleased that Court Assistant Peter Rees was acknowledged for his skill and patience in designing the programme for the evening.  The Sheriffs very much appreciated the assistance of Peter and our Company for this contribution.
Refreshments after the concert in the Church, hosted by the Rector, provided an opportunity to meet with the many Masters in attendance, including several I had dined with only the night before!  If you would like to support the S&R Fund at the Central Criminal Court , Old Bailey, please contact the office on 020 7248 3277.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Stationers’ Hall Tuesday 5th February

Tonight in very familiar surroundings, that of our “mother” livery company - the Stationers’ and Newspaper Makers - and my first official invitation by another Company to represent the Marketors.

The event was the Court Dinner, where the Master Stationer, Wardens and Court entertained twenty two Masters and Clerks of other companies. Some fine musical entertainment was provided by the Constanza Chorus. Lady Victoria Leatham , the first female Master of the Drapers responded to the Toast. A familiar face at the dinner was the Venerable David Meara, Chaplain to both companies, and also present doing a double stint was Tom Corrigan, Past Master both of the Stationers and Marketors.
Compared to our thirty eight years, the Stationers date back an impressive 610 years, and very much built from 1476 onwards on the back of print, and effectively initially being the Printer’s Guild. However, they have not been slow to recognise that their profession is not just print but truly that of communication and content. Like many older livery companies they have fully embraced the change in technology and in the methods of delivery, best exampled by their Digital Media Group. Copyright has also been a main concern to the Company over the centuries and it is interesting to hear that digital copyright is a subject actively consuming the Stationers. Stationers’ Hall dates back to 1673, replacing a casualty of the Great Fire and remains today in much the same form as it was originally built so the company have an interesting mix of the old and the new.

Our own treasure is stored in the vaults and all our members will hopefully be using the hall ourselves for Common Hall and an inaugural Professional Dinner in just a month’s time on March 5th.

Lastly, I learnt why they are "Stationers". At a time when many vendors in the City were itinerant, the scribes and illuminators of manuscripts traded from permanent ( ie:"stationary") stalls around St Paul's Cathedral - and that's not the one I was in yesterday but the one before.



Tuesday, 5 February 2013

St Paul's Cathedral Monday 4th February

An interesting service at St Paul's Cathedral in the City today to "Confirm the Election of The Right Reverend Justin Portal Welby as Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan".  The Lord Mayor Roger Gifford was present for this ceremony which forms part of the legal process by which the appointment of the new Archbishop of Canterbury is effected.

The wording used in the process of confirmation has a long history and before the eighteenth century was conducted entirely in Latin.  The Archbishop of York and his fellow bishops acting as Commissaries of HM The Queen and sitting as a Court of Law have to decide if the procedural steps have been properly carried out.  Apparently this service was previously carried out very privately but it had been decided to make this process fit for modern times and sufficiently interesting to entertain a large congregation.  Presumably London wanted some look-in on the process that will lead to the formal enrobing at Canterbury in March. 

Accompanied by bewigged lawyers, much signing of documents, numerous processions and some rousing hymns, Justin Welby finally emerged confirmed as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Joke of the day must go to the Archbishop of York recalling his time when required to speak in St Paul's as Bishop of Stepney.  Someone reminded him that St Paul's had terrible agnostics.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Dinner at Unilever House Thursday 31st January

The Marketors headed off to dinner at Unilever House hosted by Liveryman Keith Weed, Unilever's Group Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. Keith had been our guest speaker at the Bowden Charter Dinner last year.

The Company’s iconic building on the river at Victoria Embankment is the headquarters of an organisation that makes a difference to us all through providing personal hygiene and cleansing products, including soap, for over one third of the world’s population every day.

The building was of especial note. Completed in 1931 it was Grade II listed in 1977. Unilever had grown considerably over the years and in 2007 the Company wanted to be able to remain in the building and within the City of London but had operational requirements for a more modern flexible workplace than that provided by the building, which also had significant functional deficiencies. The refurbishment achieved a balance between retaining the important parts of the building’s historic facade and providing a transformed internal work place and spatial experience for the many visitors to the building with a vast open atrium, creating a strong sense of interconnection. The fit-out achieved the spirit of openness seen in the 1930s building archive and a transformed Unilever House gave the company a new lease of life within their own historic home with carbon emissions reduced by 25 per cent (far greater than regulations currently require).
We were hosted in the magnificent eighth floor Board Room with its incredible views across the River Thames.  Keith is a driving force behind Unilever’s plans for sustainable living and he reported to us on his time in Davos last week where he had attended the World Economic Forum. Since then he had spoken this Monday at the House of Commons Debating Group, sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, on the motion of Social responsibility claims by businesses amount to little more than posturing to gain commercial advantage”.
Keith’s energy was undiminished as, over a memorable culinary experience, he told us how he had recently dismantled Unilever’s CSR department and now challenged us to discuss how companies should and could build corporate social responsibility into all their working practices.  Vigorous debate ensued and, as is usual at Marketor events, the conversation illustrated the immense wealth and diversity of marketing experience and expertise around the table.  A great start to my Master’s theme of ‘Great Brands make Britain Great’.  We thanked our host for the superb service provided by the Unilever catering team.

On leaving the building and en route to Blackfriars station, I looked back at the floodlit building and reflected on last century’s many entrepreneurs and William Hesketh Lever, whose revolutionary product helped popularise cleanliness in Victorian England.  Sunlight Soap – quite a brand!

How does one become a Master?

I sent this new photograph of myself in the week to Professor Caroline Tynan in my regalia as Master, wearing gown and badge of office. 
Caroline was my tutor at Henley Management College where I took my MBA in 1992.  As part of my final dissertation I wrote about the marketing of the BT Phonecard - a somewhat pioneering innovation for its time aimed at removing cash from public telephone boxes around the country in the hope of reducing theft and vandalism. 
Unknown to me this work was submitted to the Worshipful Company of Marketors for consideration for its annual award for the best Marketing submission as part of the Henley MBA Programme.  I won!
Accordingly I received an invitation from the Company to attend the "Bowden Dinner" in October 1992 to collect my award from the then Master Geoff Darby - a large gold medallion bearing the Company's Coat of Arms and a cheque - and also had my very first introduction to a Livery Company.  What a grand occasion it seemed - so formal - and all held in beautiful historic surroundings.  A short time later I decided to join the Company, duly applied, was interviewed and then admitted at a Ceremonial Court as a Freeman.  In 1995 I took the next step of being made a Freeman of the City of London in an interesting ceremony at Guildhall.  For a short time I was the youngest Freeman of the City - but only until the next was admitted.  That in turn enabled me to be formally 'clothed' as a liveryman of the Company at a further Ceremonial Court.  I interested myself as a member of a number of Committees and in 2001 was invited to join the Court.  I found myself Chairing the Membership Committee and later the Awards Committee, appropriate to someone that had only come into the Company in the first place because of winning an Award.
After serving three years as a Warden, progressing through Junior, Middle and Senior Warden roles I now attain the great responsibility and privilege of being the Master, twenty years on from first introduction to the Company.
Each Master has the task of carrying the Company forward and in this digital age of emails and social media, we fulfill the function rather differently than our predecessors.  Our archive records a lot of communication in the early days by letter in order to progress ideas and initiatives.  Not for them the need for instant response, copied to all -  or for that matter a daily blog.  Leading a livery company in an age of IT creates its own challenges as well as opportunities as we move this year to embrace the technology for online booking and payment, as well as widening forms of communication. But the common role of a Master down the ages has always been to aim to leave the Company in better shape than we found it and to nurture our newer members to become future Masters.
I said to my old tutor Caroline in jest - what on earth did you get me into!  No doubt I'll find out in coming weeks and months.

The morning after the night before. Thursday 24th January

Westminster Abbey, the tower of Big Ben...
What better way to clear the head after the previous night’s wining and dining than to climb the 334 limestone steps up the newly named Elizabeth Tower to view famous Big Ben – close up and personal. Interestingly like Pisa it is apparently also a leaning tower – though 9” is somewhat less noticeable to the casual tourist than 12’ 10”!
This is an exclusive visit up London’s best known landmark.  Big Ben is of course the bell, founded in Whitechapel as a recast and smaller replacement for the first bell from up north that cracked.  The huge clock mechanism is interesting to watch – a major feat of engineering but with the timing ultimately controlled by a pile of old pennies. 

Actually I have been up at least twice before so whilst other Marketors were counting the steps up and down (more than Pisa!) others (joined later by the weary climbers) were having coffee within Parliament hosted by Stephen Metcalfe MP, later showing members the hammerbeam roof of medieval Westminster Hall and the beautiful little Chapel of St Mary Undercroft – a hidden gem not open to the public. Suffragette Emily Davidson famously hid in a broom cupboard in the chapel on the night of the 1911 census, so substantiating her address as the House of Commons and laying claim to equal rights to men.  Tragically she threw herself under the King’s horse at the Derby just two years later in the same cause.

We all then adjourned to the new Cellarium Restaurant in Westminster Abbey for lunch, briefly looking at the Abbey before departing.


Installation Dinner 23rd January 2013 at Merchant Taylors' Hall

Marketors and their guests had flocked in unusually high numbers to this stunning livery hall to be received by me and senior members of the Company for the traditional Installation Dinner that marks the start of a new Master’s year. It was a record attendance and a hall packed to capacity, with not a seat to spare. One memory I will cherish was to see cadets from the Naval Section of St Dunstan’s College lining the steps at the entrance to Merchant Taylors' Hall each being personally addressed by the First Sea Lord.
At a Ceremonial Court earlier in the evening, I had been delighted and privileged to be installed as Master for the ensuing year, making my oath as follows, prior to signing the Declaration Book: I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare that I will, as Master for this present year, well and truly order and govern all the fellowship of the mystery and Company of Marketors, according to my best skill and knowledge. I will keep and see kept to the best of my power the Royal Charter and Ordinances, Policies and Procedures of this Company.

After the new Master’s declaration, it is custom and practice for the outgoing Master of the Company to be divested of the Master's robe and chain of office and then, with the assistance of the Clerk and the Beadle, the new Master is ‘clothed’ in the robe.  My predecessor John Flynn held the lapels of my gown with both hands, almost lifting me off my feet!  The traditional words were spoken: 'I clothe you with this gown in the name of the Worshipful Company of Marketors'.  He then invested me 'with this Chain and Badge as the insignia of your Office as Master.' 

And so the leadership of the Company passes and my first duty as Master was to present the Immediate Past Master with his badge.The Court was now mine to Chair and it gave me great pleasure to immediately install two new Court Assistants, senior members who will sit on our governing body – the Court.  I was then delighted to admit our former Learned Clerk as an Honorary Liveryman of the Company and to also admit two new Liverymen.  Following this six applicants were presented to me for admission to the Freedom of the Company. I was also delighted to present an Award for Exceptional Service to an outstanding individual.  The Ceremonial Court finished with a flourish as we all shuttled into place for a Court Photograph and other photographs.

There quickly followed a receiving line of Master and Wardens with over two hundred and fifty members of the Company and their guests to personally greet, including our very own liveryman, the Rt Hon Theresa May, Secretary of State for the Home Department, our principal speaker, accompanied by her husband.
My personal guests were Admiral Lord West of Spithead, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, Vice-Admiral Sir Alan Massey, Sir Robert Worcester, Air Commodore Stephen Skinner, Mr Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, Adam Holloway MP, Patrice de Vivies, Chairman, Total along with the Masters of the Worshipful Companies of Tylers and Bricklayers and Fuellers.
After entering the Hall to the traditional playing of Scipio, played here on the magnificent Renatus Harris organ, I received the Masters Blessing from our Honorary Chaplain, the Venerable David Meara, Archdeacon of London.  Grace then followed in the Chaplain’s customary wit and style and dinner commenced.

Following dinner the traditional sharing of the Loving Cup took place, accompanied by appropriate drinking songs from The Student Prince and La Traviata, delivered with gusto by a final year graduate Dominick Felix at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where I had once studied myself.

The Home Secretary delivered an excellent speech without notes – showing that politicians always know what to say and it was very well received by those present.

In my response, thanking our Principal Speaker, I announced the theme for my year as Master to be ‘Great Brands make Britain Great’.  We will explore Global Brands as well as British Brands – and see how both can help get our economy back on the road to growth. 

Dinner over, we all retired to the Parlour for the traditional Stirrup Cup and to spend some time with my personal guests, but as Master you first thing you find is that there is a lot to do and to think about at a major event – and that everything has to run to time, as it did with the help of our Beadle.

So the start of a year and with tomorrow to look forward to......