Friday, 22 March 2013

Canterbury Cathedral Thursday 21st March

This seemed to be “Installation Part Two” after the ABC’s confirmation I had attended in St Paul’s last month.  The “Inauguration of the Ministry of the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury” took place today in the Cathedral and a congregation of some 2,000 people seemed to represent all the various walks of my own life in Christ.
As Master of the Worshipful Company of Marketors in mufti, it was good to be there able to witness the Masters and Prime Wardens of the Great Twelve Livery Companies process with the Lord Mayor of London towards their stalls. The Bishop of London was also there as Dean to the Canterbury Province.  I sat in glorious viewing majesty close to the High Altar and the Chair of St Augustine, where the Archbishop was to be soon installed as Primate of All England by the Dean of Canterbury Robert Willis – a long time friend and acquaintance of mine.
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Her Majesty the Queen, was represented by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, newly returned from world wide travels, probably not quite knowing where they were after such a hectic itinerary. The Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker were also present, along with the Prime Minister sitting companionably close to Opposition Leader Ed Miliband after the heated PMQ and Budget exchanges of the previous day.  And of course there were priests and lay people from across the world of the Anglican Communion.  I was there both as a Canterbury representative on the General Synod of the Church of England and as a Churchwarden in the Canterbury Diocese.  It was a truly glorious service full of majesty, sincerity and graciousness. 
It also was a first in two ways:
The Archbishop has a background in the oil industry. He refers to his time at Elf, the once French-owned State Company, where he was a so called Elf ‘model employee with a razor-sharp brain’ who became known as a finance shark with a brilliant brain. More recently serving on the Banking Standards Committee and advising on monetary issues, his business acumen is bound to be greatly beneficial to the Church of England as it review its finances and ever dwindling income.
Secondly, the Archdeacon of Canterbury, Sheila Watson, also well-known to me, became the first woman in the Church of England to actually induct an Archbishop of Canterbury.  It was a ceremony flavoured with warmth and generosity as the Archdeacon took His Grace Justin Welby gently by the hand and placed him on the Diocesan Throne, accompanying her words with a smile, looking intensely into his eyes.
The Archbishop’s sermon, based on the Gospel reading from Matthew, of Peter walking diffidently on water, intimated that we too have ‘every possible reason for optimism’ and that ‘the utterly absurd is absolutely reasonable’ when we are with Jesus.  We surely need to heed his advice and get out of the boat with Christ’s liberated courage and love abounding.  Let us provoke each other and do better!  It was an inspiring and emotional start to his walk with all of us.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Stationers’ Company 2013 Annual Lecture Monday 18th March

The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers had given their 2013 Annual Lecture the title Why Newspapers Still Matter.
The speaker Sir David Bell was not entirely a stranger to me – he recruited me from Cable and Wireless to Pearson in 1999 when he was Director of People, giving me responsibility for management development across the Pearson Group internationally.  I worked with him for four years before moving on to the Industry and Parliament Trust as CEO.    David has since retired as Chairman of the Financial Times and has also stood down in 2009 from the Board of Pearson plc after thirteen years as a Director. He currently serves as Master of the Guild of St Bride's Church.
The topical theme of the lecture was the freedom of the press post the Leveson Inquiry.  David served as an Assessor on the Leveson Enquiry and I well recall seeing him enduring month after month of painstaking televised examination of witnesses.  As someone with an established track record in newspapers, Sir David certainly brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to bear on the subject.  How ironic that Leveson had already again become the headlines of the day with apparent eleventh hours agreement reached between the three political parties about establishing regulation by the convoluted device of a Royal Charter – which had the benefit of not easily being meddled with by politicians.
The Lecture was followed by drinks and Dinner. Altogether a very pleasant and informative evening and my thanks to my kind hosts at Stationers for the invitation.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Visit to the London Metal Exchange Monday 18th March

One of my aims this year is for our Company to visit a number of real markets in the City where goods or foodstuffs are traded.
The London Metal Exchange is the world centre for the trading of industrial metals and more than 80% of all non-ferrous metals futures business is transacted on its platforms.  The LME brings together participants from the physical industry of metal consumers and the financial community.  The result is a vital, robust and regulated market where there is always a buyer and a seller, always a price, and always the decision to transfer or take on risk.
The London Metal Market and Exchange Company was founded back in 1877, but the market traces its origins back to 1571 and the opening of the Royal Exchange. Before that business was conducted by traders in London' s coffee houses using a makeshift ring drawn in chalk on the floor.
At first only copper was traded.  Lead and zinc were soon added but only gained official trading status in 1920. The range of metals traded was progressively extended: aluminium (1978), nickel (1979),  tin (1989), aluminium alloy (1992), steel (2008), and minor metals  cobalt and  molybdenum (2010). The exchange ceased trading plastics in 2011. The total value of the trade is today around $US 12 trillion annually.  Indeed the LME trades 40 times world production of non-ferrous metals, it can also arrange to provide physical delivery of metals where required - purchasers of contracts left to reach maturity receiving a warrant for a specific LME approved warehouse to take delivery of the metal.
Many deals are still made for commodities to be delivered in three months' time. The custom stems from the time that copper cargoes originally took in 1877 on their voyage from the ports of Chile.

To trade contracts in copper, tin, or any other metal listed on the LME, you have to trade through an LME member. Open out-cry is the oldest and most popular way of trading on the exchange making a cacophony of noise and periods that appear absolute chaos but are actually very ordered.  The ring is central to the process of price discovery, the way that LME official prices are established. Prices derived from the short ring trading sessions are most representative of industry supply and demand. The official settlement price, on which contracts are settled, is determined by the last offer price before the bell is sounded to mark the end of the official ring.
We were able to see some of the trade, where each of the nine metals are traded in blocks with a five-minute mad-cap session for each contract before moving on to a different metal – all activity culminating into the last seconds of the session and negotiated with hand signals indicating the price being struck. The LME is the last exchange in Europe where open-outcry trading takes place and it was good to hear that the LME conducts training courses for those wanting to join the market.
After an interesting visit we all adjourned for an excellent lunch in a pub in beautiful Leadenhall Market.  Thanks to Michael Lynch for managing this event.
I rounded up the afternoon braving torrential rain with a visit to the Dutch Church in Austin Friars where there was a fascinating display of basket making by the artisans associated with the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The United Guilds Service at St Paul's Friday 15th March

Immediately prior to the service, a short ceremony was held at Plaisterers' Hall for the purpose of David Pearson making his formal declaration to act fully as Junior Warden pending a formal full Ceremonial Court being held.  This meant that we once again had a full team of Master and Wardens in place in the Marketors for the walk to St Paul's Cathedral to attend the 71st Service of the United Guilds of the City of London.

This important Annual Service attended by all the Livery Companies and Guilds was first held on Thursday 25th March 1943 with the purpose of lifting spirits of the City after the devastation of the Blitz during the Second World War.  This was as a result of a meeting of the Masters and Prime Wardens of the Great Twelve Companies held at Goldsmiths Hall on 1st February 1943.  This is thought to be the first occasion when all the Livery Companies and Guilds had combined to hold a religious service.

The service starts with a procession of the Masters and Prime Wardens of the Great Twelve Companies and some of the others, and other City dignitaries including the Lord Mayor and takes place in a very full cathedral.  A challenging sermon about generosity and giving was given by the Bishop of Chelmsford whose diocese includes part of East London. 

After the service we adjourned for a reception and luncheon at Plaisterers Hall along with a number of other companies, hosted by the Master Plaisterer.

Dinner to The Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff of the Livery Companies of the City of London Thursday 14th March

Prior to 1869, the Lord Mayor only entertained the heads of the Great Twelve Livery Companies. Now an annual dinner for the Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff is a major annual fixture in the calendar of the City Livery and presents an opportunity for the Lord Mayor to celebrate the partnership enjoyed with the Livery Companies and to return some of the hospitality shown to him over his office in office.  Held in the Egyptian Hall at Mansion House it is also a glittering and memorable event of a year of office, attended not by Master and Clerks but Master and Partners.

But first it may be worth just explaining what for most in the Livery should constitute one of those bits of City general knowledge all should know.   Most companies, just like the Marketors, have a Master. However a small and select number of companies instead have a Prime Warden:  the Basketmakers, Dyers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths and Shipwrights.   The Upper Bailiff belongs to the Weavers –the oldest City Livery Company granted a charter by Henry II in 1155.

The music was provided by the Orchestra of the Honourable Artillery Company with many fanfares announcing various stages of the evening.  Speeches were given by the Masters of the Mercers and the Grocers, in addition to the Lord Mayor Alderman Roger Gifford.

Altogether a most enjoyable evening in which the livery companies gather as a body.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Worshipful Company of Insurers at Insurance Hall, Aldermanbury Monday 11th March Modern Livery Companies Dinner

It might have been very cold outside but there was certainly a warm welcome from the Master Insurer, Rick Hudson, for the Master and Senior Warden of the Marketors.  This was the first of the two annual dinners that will be held by the Modern Livery Companies in 2013 and this Spring it was the task of the Insurers to organise.  I was reminded that a year ago it had been was the turn of the Marketors to host the dinner and I had to fulfil the duty of presiding while John, our Immediate Past Master was in hospital.
The Worshipful Company of Insurers has the good fortune to use the home of their own Chartered Institute and, while not a Livery Hall, it is located in a prestigious City location very close to the Guildhall.
The dinner was excellent and the company of so many other Masters added to the interest as we all get to know each other, particularly those whose installation closely matches mine in January.  We discussed our forthcoming visit with the Lord Mayor to Ironbridge in June.
Sheriff Nigel Pullman was an extremely entertaining speaker.  He regaled us with details of what he wears in his official capacity and how he needed to obtain ‘hold up’ black tights to wear to ensure not too close a fit!  Apparently he had been ably assisted by a member of Marks and Spencer staff, no doubt bemused, at the Marble Arch store who made sure he had the right size.  Sadly Nigel discovered that the elastic, by all accounts, does not really work and, as he was speaking he was a trifle in fear of losing the thread of his talk – or was it the tights descending?
Over a stirrup cup we continued our conversation and then it was back out to the cold – black tights or not.  There was a parting speech from the Master Actuary, who will host the Autumn dinner.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Vintners’ Hall Thursday 7th March The Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers and Looking-Glass Makers of London

Hot on the heels of our own Common Hall I was invited to the Glass Sellers Common Hall held prior to their Court and Livery Dinner.  All members and guests were invited to attend, a welcome touch I felt although a bit restricting perhaps if any questions were arising – of which there were none.  It was an informative meeting with short presentations on the various aspects of the Glass Sellers Company’s organisation and work including  more recent and important links developed with industry in relation to the varied applications of glass in modern manufacturing.
It was an excellent dinner in a superb venue and the speeches and a traditional toast ‘To Glass’ emphasised the enduring nature and relevance of a cheap and recyclable material we largely take for granted – with of course glass in hand.
The Company received its Charter from Charles the Second in 1664 and ranks 71st in precedence – thereby celebrating its 350th anniversary next year.  Today the Company’s members are involved across many different trades and professions.  Whilst the Company’s outreach seeks to encourage interest in glass and glass making in all its many aspects and good craftsmanship, honest trading, charity and education are high on their agenda.  I was particularly impressed that the outreach included social and practical support in needy areas well outside “The City”.  As Guest Speaker the Reverend Canon Dave Wade spoke meaningfully about the work he does in his parish of St Luke’s, Canning Town, financially supported by the Glass Sellers.  Once an area of great industry and now one of the most deprived and run down areas in London,  Dave’s plain speaking  achievement  was in progressively  building his Sunday congregation back up from 3 – 150 in a short time.  This recovery almost beggared belief and his obvious commitment and energy in serving the largely unwaged and ethnically mixed population of that area was acknowledged by all present. 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Clothworkers Company, Clothworkers' Hall Wednesday 6th March

Tonight, in Company with the Assistant Clerk, it was a return to the magnificent Clothworkers’ Hall where the Marketors had held our Bowden Charter Dinner in October. This time we were attending as guests at the Company’s Annual Masters and Clerks Dinner. At his invitation, Doreen and I joined the Master, Robin Booth, for pre-dinner drinks in his private study.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1528, the original purpose of The Clothworkers’ Company was to protect its members and promote the craft of cloth-finishing within the City of London. The Company’s most famous Master was Samuel Pepys, who had finished writing his diary before he took office in 1677. So although there is no record of his year, it mentions events which must have affected the Company and annually there is a Pepys dinner.

Few of its present members are involved in the textile industry in any direct way today, but the Company continues to support textiles, principally through educational grants, fostering the development of technical textiles and colour science, and support for the nation's textile heritage.

The assets of the Company, one of the Great Twelve, are considerable and based on property and investments. These are used to support The Clothworkers' Foundation, started in 1977, a registered charity and the Company is one of the largest grant-makers in Britain, having made grants to date that total£100million.

Do you dine with Alderman or Lady Cooper? A question to perplex the uninitiated in the ways of the Clothworkers. Alderman Cooper collapsed with apoplexy in 1664 and was revived with brandy but subsequently died. Lady Cooper was angry with the Clerk as she felt he would have survived had he been given gin instead. To this day at Company dinners all guests are offered a choice of brandy or gin. I chose the Lady's tipple and recommendation and sat back to thoroughly enjoy the musical entertainment from three highly talented Guildhall students.

The guest speaker was Colonel Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, Chairman of the City of London Reserve Forces and Cadets Association. He spoke forcefully about the need to show support for all the TA serving in war zones and urged everyone to also support the Cadets, a number having formed a splendid carpet guard this evening. A commentator on Religious matters for Sky News, as well as a prolific writer, Colonel Bruce had also been involved in advising on TV programmes, including Downton Abbey and The Young Victoria. The evening ended with a stirrup cup and friendly farewells to a Livery Company that simply oozed hospitality and good fellowship.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Common Hall Stationers Hall Tuesday 5th March

Common Hall is a feature of many Livery Companies, and in some is a regular annual event at which Master and Wardens are elected.  However in many others it is an irregular event, called at the behest of the Master and not necessarily held annually.   The format also varies between companies, in some more closely resembling an Annual General Meeting, but not always and it is a mistake to think of Common Hall in this way.
My main aim tonight in the brief time available was to provide information about the progress of the Company, to highlight some of the issues of concern to the Court, to explain where we are seeking to introduce change, and to give members the opportunity to raise questions.
As a confidential meeting between members of the livery I cannot give more details here.
Common Hall was followed by our inaugural Professional Dinner in which Professor Malcolm McDonald addressed us on “The Future of Marketing”.   
He particularly lamented the division that has opened up over the years between Marketing and Sales, and the number of people operating in marketing roles without any formal training. 
After the speech he gamely fielded questions from the members present.
Court Assistant Peter Rees, Chair of the Heritage Committee had brought up our treasure out of storage, providing members with one of the few occasions to view some of the generous gifts we have been given.  Hopefully, at some point we will be able to show this off better in a display cupboard.

Builders Merchants Company City & Awards Luncheon - Ironmongers' Hall Tuesday 5th March

The Banqueting Hall of the Ironmongers is an impressive room by any standards. The Company is lucky having survived the Great Fire and two World Wars relatively unscathed and the windows, ceiling, chandeliers and oak panelling conjure up heraldic imagery. The fine stained glass windows record the rooms connections with the Monarchy and past Lord Mayors of London.

A superb venue in which to join the Builders Merchants Company for their City and Awards lunch, and meet their Master Andrew Way. The Guest of Honour was George Gillon. It was gratifying to see a Guildhall School of Music & Drama student receive one of the prizes – of which I am myself an alumni.

The Builders Merchants are 88 in the order of precedence and certainly one of the Companies whose members have a focus on successful sales and marketing. Many of the members represent smaller companies having to find and maintain their service niche through the ups and downs of the housing market, competing against the large national chains and DIY shops increasingly targeting “the trade”.




Derek Melluish Memorial Lecture – Monday 4th March

Sue Jackson, Chairman of the Association of London Blue Badge Guides, gave a splendid introduction to Lord Richard Dannatt GCB CBE MC, Constable to the Tower of London.  His lecture for the Association was entitled   ‘Sent to the Tower’.
Lord Dannatt pointed out to a large assembly of Masters, Liverymen and interested parties that after four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan  he left the Army on 31 July 2009 and was appointed as Constable of the Tower of London the very next day, 1 August.  

As an outspoken member of HM Forces he might be forgiven for thinking he was literally being ‘Sent to the Tower’. Once the seat of government, the Tower of London is now controlled and run by Royal Armouries, who keep a modest collection of armoury and weapons in the White Tower. This is also the only space allowed for private entertaining and I used it myself in 2006 for a great party with MPs and Peers suitably transported by river boat to the Tower and a private viewing of the Crown Jewels.

His tour of duty in the Tower of London mainly consists of managing 2.5 million visitors a year.  To assist him in this task he has of course the  Beefeaters.  The Tower hosts many Livery Companies for church services in the two beautiful chapels, alive of course with stories of previous worshippers who no doubt prayed there before meeting their deaths.

The event took place in the City’s Dutch Church. This dates from 1550 when King Edward VI gave Protestant refugees from the Netherlands permission to establish their own parish.  It aims to be a meeting-place for Dutch people living and working in London either for longer or shorter periods. Destroyed in the Blitz the Church was rebuilt in 1950 and is a familiar sight to those who walk down Aldersgate Street and cut through Austin Friars, the street named after the monastic order which founded the Church.  The Dutch Church has a spacious undercroft for entertaining where refreshments were provided.


Friday, 1 March 2013

The XXVI Annual World Traders Tacitus Lecture Guildhall 28th February

I knew Sir Richard Lambert very well from his time as Editor of the FT when I was Development Director for its owner, the Pearson Group. He gave an excellent Tacitus Lecture at Guildhall on ‘Industry and the City – Revitalising the Economy’. He was introduced by Sheriff Nigel Pullman, who had also worked with Richard and is former Clerk to the World Traders. The Chair was the Master World Trader, Mr John Burbidge-King.  Gaye Duffy, Clerk to the World Traders and our own Hon Liveryman did the honours. Also from our own Company Court  Assistant Diane Morris and Honorary Liveryman Adèle Thorpe are also active World Traders helping with the organisation of the evening.   

In true journalist style Sir Richard outlined a trilogy. First the bad news on the economic side -  despite financial services, including the related professional services sector being our largest export earner generating £55 billion in trade earnings, more than the rest of net exports, we are in depressing difficulty.  However, we are also the EU’s - and indeed the world’s - pre-eminent  financial centre with a distinctive role to play in achieving recovery.  Lastly, the sector now needs to prove that it can indeed be the catalyst for growth and helps facilitate the recovery of business outside of the financial sector across both the UK’s and the EU’s economy.  No mean feat.The full transcript of the lecture is available through the World traders website and is recommended reading.

Tribute was also given to the work of the FSG, the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies in which the Marketors plays a part in aiding this recovery.

There were over 800 in the Guildhall and, after the lecture it was good to catch up with many familiar City faces and the Masters of Livery Companies present.