Saturday, 18 December 2010
"The financial services industry regained its place as the largest individual contributor to Government finances in the latest financial year, according to figures from the City of London Corporation.
"Taxes paid by financial services companies were worth an estimated £53.5bn in the 12 months to March in a report produced by PricewatherhouseCoopers. ....the financial firms (were) the largest contributor to the Exchequer, comprising 11.2pc of the total UK tax take."
North Sea oil was in second place, distribution businesses were third and manufacturing businesses fourth in terms of the contributions to tax revenues.
Importantly, the reported figure does not include the tax paid by financial services professionals subject to the 50pc tax rate or those hit by the bank payroll tax.
Those numbers - £53.4bn, 11.2% - should be on the tip of the tongue for anyone wanting to promote the importance of the City of London to their friends and colleagues. This is what pays for our public services all over the UK (not just in London). If we want to be less dependent on financial services in future, by all means grow other businesses so that they become relatively bigger, but don't let's set out to reduce the absolute size and value-generating ability of the City.
Court Assistant David Williams has produced a fabulous souvenir brochure of our Royal Charter celebrations, which encloses a DVD produced through the good offices of Court Assistant Peter Rees and Freeman Richard Teideman. They all hit the postal service late last week and most seemed to have arrived before the big snows of 17th December.
Christmas cards have been bought (from a brain tumour research charity) signed and sent to all members. Yes we could have done an electronic one and donated the money saved to charity, but it's not quite so personal is it?
The Marketors' Trust is making a special appeal for funds to support a second undergraduate student from the poorer boroughs around the City, so letters on that are going to all members too.
It's easy to forget just how much time it takes to write, stuff, seal and send 450 items. As always, it was a team effort.
Liveryman Ardi Kolah is a trustee of the House of Illustration, a charity promoting and preserving what they call the world's most accessible art form. www.houseofillustration.org.uk
He kindly invited me to their exhibition of illustrations (mainly) from children's books of the 20th century, including Quentin Blake, Kate Greenaway, Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), Nick Park, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham, Arthur Ransome, E H Shepard and Margaret Tarrent. What a feast for the eyes and heart.
The highlight of the evening was a reading by Peter Capaldi of two extracts from 'A Christmas Carol', accompanied by Quentin Blake live-illustrating the story, with his hand, pen and paper projected onto a screen so we could watch the drawing emerge. A touch of the Rolf Harrises, but on a smaller scale.
Some of the illustrations were auctioned on 16th December, raising about £70,000 for the charity. Good luck to it.
Since then it has forged forwards and we are proud that Tony Mullee, a Marketor, is its current CEO. An annual Lecture programme was established four years ago. This year's lecture was given by Dr Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College, who addressed the questions, "Why schools? Why universities?"
At the heart of his recommendations were the concepts of breadth (8 aptitudes: logic, linguistic, creative, physical, moral, spiritual, leadership, character - I think), creativity and happiness in education. The crucial skills were to teach children and students to become independent learners and problem-solvers.
After the lecture, Trevor Brignall (Chairman of the Marketors' Trust) and I presented a cheque to the Dean of Cass Business School, Richard Gillingwater CBE, for a bursary of £10,000 to support an MBA student research project. The topic for this year's project is still to be agreed with our Think Tank, but last year's winner, Scott Addison, subsequently presented his work to the Think Tank on 15th December. Scott received a distinction for his studies (see earlier post) so let's hope the Marketors are doing their bit to encourage independent learning and problem-solving.
It was also a chance for me to thank them all for their wonderful support and assistance. Mike Kearsley is stepping down from the Court after many years of effective service to the Marketors, leading the Regimental Liaison Committee and the Freedom Committee. Past Master Steve Kennett is retiring from being a trustee of the Marketors Trust, of which he is a past Chairman. We all expressed our special thanks to them both.
It's the time of year when people ask you what the highlight of the year has been. Apart from the obvious - the Royal Charter - for me the best things have been the people, the relationships and the learning.
Friday, 17 December 2010
Huw Edwards, BBC newsreader and anchor man, was the guest speaker at the annual carol service for the communications industry at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street. The Marketors are regular participants and this year I was fortunate enough to be invited to write and read the Bidding (welcome). So we processed in together, behind the wonderful St Bride's choir, who led the music for the service.
As always, it was a wonderful occasion, just nicely focussing our minds forward for Christmas. A big thank you to Archdeacon David Meara, who is also our Honorary Chaplain, and to the whole team at St Brides for making us so welcome.
And afterwards we discovered a cosy bar in the basement of the Bridewell Theatre, thanks to Court Assistant David Williams's careful research and preparation. It's fair to say that a good time was had by all, including the Master who, after her last Court meeting in the chair earlier that afternoon, was beginning to feel a little demob happy.
Well done Raymond - we're proud of you!
PS Marketors can hear Tubae Fori on the DVD of the Charter event which has recently been sent to all members.
The Financial Services Group of livery companies, now twelve in number since the International Bankers decided to become full members, produces a booklet each year which is presented to the new Lord Mayor, shortly after his or her installation.
The booklet describes the aims of the FSG, gives some facts and figures and explains how each company is supporting the current Lord Mayor's 'City of London: City of choice' theme.
The FSG's Convenor, Jeremy Goford (a Past Master Actuary), led the group of representatives who witnessed this year's presentation. If you would like a copy of the booklet, Marketors can get one from our Clerk, otherwise please contact the FSG Secretary, Michael Chitty at email@example.com.
Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010
Professional chef, Cyrus Todiwala, of Cafe Spice Namaste, has redefined the word 'mutton'. He says that, technically, mutton is lamb which is slaughtered between October and December. His mutton, served as cutlets, was as tender as any lamb I have ever tasted.
What was this all about? - an idea from Court Assistant Dan Doherty, to create a new 'sheep meat' dish specifically for Livery Companies which, whenever it was ordered, would generate a donation to the current Lord Mayor's charity (in this year, Bear Necessities).
A group of Marketors set the ball rolling last week, enjoying Cyrus's wonderful spicy food on one of the coldest days of the year so far, the principle dish being, what else but, "Marketors' Mayoral Mutton".
These are aimed in particular at new Freemen and Liverymen. They provide an overview of the work of the City of London Corporation and the relationship with the Livery Companies. There is an opportunity to ask questions of the speakers and to mix with other Freemen and Liverymen.
Four briefings are held each year at Innholders' Hall, College Street EC4, from 5.30pm - 7.30pm, usually on Wednesday evenings in February, May, October and November.
Further details are at http://www.liverycommitteecourses.org/ and bookings and payment can be made at the website. There is a charge of £10 per person.
I strongly recommend these introductory courses for all Freemen and Liverymen. For little outlay of money and time you can start to learn about this amazing entity which is the City of London, of which you are now a part. Do go.
Sunday, 28 November 2010
(Sidebar: my day started with a wonderful invitation to the service at Westminster Abbey preceding the start of the Church of England's General Synod. My host, Junior Warden Sally Muggeridge, was processing as a member of Synod, as was 'my' Rector from Guildford, Robert Cotton. However it was a hat occasion so afterwards I had to find a hairdresser in a hurry to repair my squashed locks. Thank goodness for Hershesons Blow Dry Bar at One New Change in the City.)
The London Chamber of Commerce was the venue for our event, attended by 120 members, their guests and Masters and Clerks of other Livery Companies. I was particularly pleased that one Master remarked on the number of younger, active people in our Livery.
Baroness Hogg, Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council, emphasised that there was no one perfect model of corporate governance, which had to strike the right balance between reducing risk while not stifling entrepreneurship. She examined three models - trust, legal and transparency - and expressed her strong belief in the value of the "comply or explain" principle. Her speech will be on our website shortly and I will insert the link to it as soon as possible. It is well worth reading, whether or not you attended the event.
He explained how the Supreme Court came to be established in place of the former court in the House of Lords. It is the separation of powers between the Legislature (Houses of Parliament), the Executive (Government) and the Judiciary (Judges) which is crucial.
The former Law Lords (Judiciary) also sat in the House of Lords (Legislature), so the separation of powers could have been perceived as being compromised, although those directly involved never felt that this was the case.
Lord Phillips described the hair-raising political process of reaching agreement on this fundamental reform, but finished by assuring us that the outcome was a significant improvement. Apart from greater transparency of accountability, the new Supreme Court building is much more suitable for public access and openness - something highly desirable in the administration of justice.
Although for some of us, our year as Master still has some months to run, the association has been formed, has been named, "The Power of Ten", and held its first function last week to welcome the members and their partners to what we hope will be a lifelong friendship network.
We shall continue our commitment to charitable work by making a small donation from every ticket sold to one of our events, to the charity of the Lord Mayor of the day. Every little helps.
Sunday, 21 November 2010
Interviewed by the Rector, Robert Cotton, Paul explained how deaths on the roads in the UK have halved from 8,000 a year to 4,000 in recent years, and that speed cameras have been part of the reason for this reduction. Robert endorsed the efforts of Paul's company, Tele Traffic UK Ltd, to include motorcyclists in the community of responsible road users with an award-winning new piece of technology which is now being supplied to police forces.
On behalf of his company, Paul presented a donation to RoadPeace.
And why am I reporting this? Because Jo and Paul first met Robert when they visited Holy Trinity Church in June this year as part of a Marketors' event. Nice outcome.
many graduands from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, receiving their Diplomas at a huge ceremony in the Birmingham Symphony Hall.
Quotations of the day:
Dennis Turner, HSBC Chief Economist: "The recession, that time when even those who have no intention of paying you stop buying, is over."
John Prescott, quoted by Mark Price, MD of Waitrose: "Leadership is vision, compassion and courage". Mark added "and trust".
Warren Buffett, quoted by Mark Price: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Goethe (?), quoted by Martha Lane Fox: "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."
On this particular day, our Events Committee Chairmen, Liveryman Diane Morris, and I went to the London Chamber of Commerce to taste the options (vegetarian and ominvorous) for the City Lecture next week. You can tell us afterwards what you think of our choices.
Monday, 15 November 2010
Later I attended an exhibition of paintings and prize-giving to the artists organised by the Painter-Stainers' Company at their lovely hall. The attendees were drawn from the arts and the City (a luvvy-livery mix?) and we mere artisans opened our eyes in amazement at the variety of styles, textures, colour codes and scale of the displays. I cannot pretend to have understood it all but it was good to be exposed to what is new and considered to be excellent.
But on Sunday a dozen Marketors were at St Brides for the wreath-laying and subsequent communion service. The music as always was exquisite - the St Bride's choir augmented by a volunteer (professional) orchestra. They sang the Durufle Requiem, and you can't go wrong with Durufle, in my view.
Driving into the City earlyish on a Sunday morning is a different experience. The streets had all been hosed clean after yesterday's parade. The mainline railway station at City Thameslink was closed. All was quiet except for the occasional tramp of soldiers moving in small groups towards St Paul's. The only coffee shop open was the independent Italian one, serving a diverse clientele of churchgoers and workmen in their reflective waistcoats. Parking was easy but there's no discount for going to church!
Thank goodness it was dry! Here are some images from a great day out, not only for us, but for the family of Marketors who joined the many thousands of people alongside the route. I was joined by Senior Warden, Jim Surguy, Middle Warden, John Flynn and in this picture by Past Master and Brigadier Roger Hood, who is a Marshal for the parade. We walked with the other Modern Livery Companies in front of our bus, a steam-driven fire engine from the Firefighters and a potato harvester from the Farmers - what a neat bit of driving that was round our narrow streets.
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Delighted to see that the government is now espousing the energy objectives that Shell has talked about for some time - that what we all want is energy that is clean, cheap and convenient. Or if you prefer it more elegantly: affordable, available and acceptable. The Department of Energy and Climate Change seems to have (what I would consider to be) a sensible view of the task ahead as we migrate to a new portfolio of energy sources and technologies.
Just as interesting, I met a delightful Past Prime Warden of the Dyers Company, Michael Rowlandson, who sits on the Court of City University. It's one of their expressions of social responsibility.
Monday, 8 November 2010
From 9.30 the crypt of St Paul's gradually filled with representatives from the the Royal British Legion, the armed services, the Ambulance Service, City Institutions and the Livery Companies. We were called out to walk across to the garden of remembrance at the North East corner of the cathedral, where the Band of the Scots Guards (well wrapped in grey greatcoats and bearskins) waited.
The Livery Masters gathered on the grass under the plane trees, cold penetrating up through the soles of our shoes, and the large wet plane leaves brushing water across our dripping umbrellas as the wind caught the branches.
The arrival of the procession of dignatories (Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Dean and Chapter) signalled the start of the service and we did our best to sing and pray, then took our turns in sixes to plant our small wooden crosses in the grass at the foot of the tree. Cautious steps required on the slippery mud (wonder what it was like in the trenches) and a strong hand to push the cross into surprisingly resistant ground.
The Lord Mayor Locum Tenens (i.e. stand-in for the LM, who is abroad), Lord Levene, said that this morning he had read the names of all those servicemen who had given their lives this year - 104 of them. "So many were only 18, 19 or 20 years old. That's one of the injustices of war. It takes the youngest and the best." Very choke-making.
Sunday, 7 November 2010
On Thursday the Lady Mayoress held a reception to whom, among others, all the Livery Company Masters of 2009-10 and their Ladies or Consorts were invited. I have been in office for almost 9 months so many of them are now friends; the reception was more like a large private party than a formal civic occasion. Excellent tea, finishing up with a glass of champagne - now that's style!
Friday, 29 October 2010
We started preparing almost a year ago, taking a chance on booking the Great Hall (shown above, although we had long tables, not round ones) before we knew we would be awarded the Charter.
A huge amount of work done by the committee, especially our Clerk, Adele Thorpe, resulted in a never-to-be-forgotten occasion. I cannot do justice here to it but the full story will be in the souvenir brochure and DVD to be sent to every Freeman and Liveryman of the Marketors. You might like to read the views of a guest, the Master Draper, on his blog: http://masterdraper.blogspot.com/2010/10/marketors-grant-of-royal-charter-19.html
Coverage also from the Livery Committee's website:
I was fortunate enough to sit next to Alderman Roger Gifford, Master of the International Bankers. Although we discussed more serious subjects, we also agreed that the City's Sung Grace (Laudi Spirituali of 1545) is set in too high a key. The third line is too high for altos and basses, so I end up singing that line at tenor pitch. Ho hum, the challenges of being a Master.
I was honoured to be invited to the Women of the Year Lunch. Roz Morris generously nominated me and here we both are - note the slight lack of focus was the result of indoor lighting, it had nothing to do with the excellence of the lunch!
So many of those attending had done amazing things in the sphere of charitable work or what could now perhaps be called "Big Society" volunteering. It made me feel very humble by comparison.
The event was hosted by the wonderful Sandi Toksvig - a pocket battleship of humour and good cheer - and while celebrating the successes of women, the tone was determinedly NOT anti-man. Thank goodness.
Sunday, 10 October 2010
On the following Monday, Lord Mayor Nick Anstee hosted a seriously heavy-hitting conference to take the conversation beyond law and regulation and to stimulate the shift from talk to action. Speakers included Marcus Agius, Chairman of Barclays, and Hector Sants, Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority. The tone of the meeting was clear: we accept we have a problem and we have to do something about it.
This is a subject close to my heart (part of the holistic sustainability agenda that is my theme for the year) so I was delighted when the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants invited Sally Muggeridge, Junior Warden, and me to join a team working on this topic with the Lord Mayor-elect, Michael Bear. Watch this space.
'Rules for the Conduct of Life' - modern version from a church with no Sunday services - 30th September 2010
Saturday, 9 October 2010
The day started for me with breakfast as a guest of the Cook and the Butler (who were our caterers for the Installation Dinner and Spring Lunch this year) and included a squirrel casserole - tasty in its own way but slightly bitter so not my choice for future breakfasts.
Thence to the crypt in Guildhall to robe up and join the other Masters processing in colourful array across the yard to St Lawrence Jewry church (see also next post) for divine service. Back to Guildhall before processing into the Great Hall for the election.
The three eligible candidates' names were called out, to which the hall replied with a shouted "All" for the preferred one, "Next" for the one to follow next year, and "Later" for the third.
It's a solemn occasion but humour is not far below the surface, as when the Common Cryer and Serjeant-at-Arms (the same person) bellows "Silence!" into a hall where you could hear a pin drop. And when the Aldermen retire to determine their choice between the two candidates put forward by the Livery, the Assistant Town Clerk (Chief Executive in Corporation of London-ese) does what can only be described as a "turn", entertaining the troops while we await the results.
Alderman Michael Bear emerged as the Lord Mayor-elect and made a speech in which he promised plenty of ursine humour in the year ahead. He takes office on Friday 12th November, the day before his Lord Mayor's Show.
The vote of thanks to Lord Mayor, Nick Anstee, who is now approaching the end of his year, was given by HRH The Princess Royal, this year's Master Butcher (NA is a Butcher). She is a great supporter of the Livery in general and gives a good speech.
Lunch followed at the always-hospitable Farmers' and Fletchers' Hall and the day ended with the Worshipful Company of Musicians' Choral Evensong at St Paul's, followed by the third meal out of the day.
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Did you know that 80% of our laws are now created in Brussels - all the ones that involve trading standards, rights to work in different countries etc. So, like it or not, we need to engage with the EU and ensure that our preferences are known and our interests represented. We pay 1% of our GDP to fund it, so we might as well get value for our money.
Saturday, 2 October 2010
Conclusions: worth repeating; lunchtime suits some members better than evenings; more privacy would have enabled us to have a collective conversation but this was still enjoyable; a different dynamic without partners, but nice for a change.
If you are a Liveryman, each year you will receive two letters from the lead supporters of the incoming Sheriffs, asking if you would like to donate to their Shrieval badges. I never really appreciated what this was about until this year.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Another of the Livery Committee's tasks is education and they run short evening briefings for Liverymen (I am glad to say that Marketors regularly attend - please keep applying, they only cost £10 and are a great introduction to the City Civic). They also run, once a year, a full day's course for those approaching the chair of their Livery Company i.e. Wardens and Court Assistants. The agenda normally covers the role of the Corporation, of Aldermen and Common Councilmen, the Planning Office, the City of London Police etc. This year there was a new session, "Helping the Livery to understand and support the Business City". This was the first mention of the source of wealth-creation on the course.
The stimulus was a request from Sheriff Peter Cook to help the Livery do more to support the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs in their role as ambassadors for the City and for financial services across the UK. The request landed on the desk of the Financial Services Group and I volunteered to create a presentation to fit the 25 minute slot for the audience of more than 100 from most of the Livery Companies. Anyone who attended our dinner at Mansion House will have heard part of the story (sorry - I used my own company as guinea pigs). I am awaiting the quantitative feedback but, on the day, the response seemed favourable.
So why do it this way? The purpose is to enable Masters and, especially, Senior Wardens to start meeting their peer "year group" who will become part of their personal networks in their year as Master and beyond. An example of the importance attached to fellowship across the companies. (Each year group forms a Past Masters' association to keep in touch with each other, so these relationships can last for the rest of one's life.)
On this occasion the guest speaker was Sheriff-elect, Richard Sermon. He was our Clerk's guest at our Installation Dinner in January - Adele has been one of his supporters on his journey to being elected last June. Richard has also just been interviewed by Court Assistant Andrew Marsden and Liveryman Deborah Marmor as part of a Marketors' project. So he certainly knows about the Marketors.
In his speech he praised the contribution of the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies (of which we are a member) and emphasised the importance of the City recovering its reputation for trustworthiness and ethical behaviour. Hear, hear!
Monday, 6 September 2010
1st September and the Livery world wakes up again. A conference on World Class Cities: World Class Universities was hosted at CASS Business School. Speakers included Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, formerly Chairman of the Corporation of London's Policy Committee, and Angela Knight of the British Bankers Association. Lots of interesting snippets that I can use for my own forthcoming presentation to the Wardens' and Court Assistants' City Course on 20th September.
2nd September and I witnessed Court Assistant Peter Rees delivering a tour-de-force presentation on marketing planning to a 10-strong team from the Guildhall Libraries. In a little over 2 hours he took them through a structured, joined-up approach that they could do for themselves. Supported by Michael Harrison and Sue Garland Worthington, all very well received. This is part of our highly active Outreach work - more than 60 projects being supported by Marketors who give their time pro bono to charities and others. I have asked for an estimate of the financial value delivered by this great team - I bet it's more than we give in cash terms to charities and educational awards.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
You may well laugh, but on a mid-August, mid-week evening, no fewer than 46 members heard Murray Craig (who does professional City guiding occasionally alongside his day job as Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court - the man who conducts the City of London Freedom ceremonies) telling us the history of Smithfield - ecclesiastical, poetic, poignant, occasionally bloody and frequently beery. Did you know that the Bishop's Finger was a signpost on the Pilgrims' Way pointing towards Canterbury?
And there was our own Freeman, Richard Teideman, handing out vouchers, good for a round at each of our tavern stops on the way. (Did you ever refer to five pound notes as "Blue beer vouchers" in your youth? Well there it was, only they were white.)
Despite the on-tap attractions, remarkably, the group stayed together for most of the journey - well done Murray and Richard.
Monday, 26 July 2010
Afterwards, many members will be going on holiday, although the preparations for our Charter event in October will continue throughout the summer.
If you want some light holiday reading, try C J Sansom's "Dark Fire", a mediaeval murder mystery set entirely in the City of London. I have been intrigued by the 1540 map drawn inside the front cover, showing so many of today's streets with the same names, the Fleet River, Smithfield when it was a field etc. It's one of a series but stands alone if you haven't read the others.
Your correspondent will be back in a few weeks' time.
While both displayed the common values of the Livery, at one the conversation was mostly social, at the other there was more discussion of a commercial nature. This illustrates the variety among Livery Companies. One could almost segment them into:
- the modern companies, almost entirely made up of professionals from the 'trade';
- the old and wealthy, whose members often join through patrimony, and who spend a great deal of time managing trusts and charitable works;
- the niche, perhaps with an ancient trade that has no modern equivalent;
- the ancient but modernised, who have allied themselves to a new, related trade or profession.
The marketers among you will have spotted that I have fallen into the temptation of segmentation by characteristics rather than by need, but it's only a bit of fun!
The Master Insurer, Graeme King, is a Scot so his excellent dinner was rounded off with a poem from the much-ridiculed poet, William McGonagall, and live bagpipe music.
The evening was memorable, not least because the Beadle asked my permission to use the table beside me on which to rest his block of wood. He gavelled with such energy, that the china and glass jumped and 'chinged' each time in unison, and on one occasion a chip of wood flew off the block. I purloined it (the chip) as a souvenir.
Friday, 16 July 2010
Pink is the colour - reminds me of my Installation Dinner.
And did you realise that the original Savoy Hotel was built with profits from the theatre, in the days of D'Oyly Carte?
In the Livery world, Masters are installed at different times of the year but July is a particularly busy time for handovers from one Master to another. So just as you have got the name right of the person wearing a particular badge, a stranger turns up, saying "I'm Master So and So" and you think to yourself, "No you're not, my friend N is!"
Following the Masters' visit to Ironbridge in June we have formed our year group association for 2009-10 (for all those who are Masters/Upper Bailiff/Prime Wardens in the year of Lord Mayor Nick Anstee). The committee had its first meeting on Tuesday this week to write the constitution and start planning future ways of promoting fellowship among the 100+ likely members.
These associations could be described as the Masters' methadrone - helping reduce withdrawal symptoms of losing office!
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Typically they give small grants of money to pay for retraining, new clothes for someone leaving prison in the same clothes they went in with, tools of their new "straight" trade, basic furniture etc. Last year they made more than 900 small grants and they pride themselves on turning around requests quickly.
Some stories from beneficiaries:
"JH received a grant to purchase a washing machine which has made a big difference to her life. She had previously been doing the washing for her four children and herself in the bath."
"Your generous gift enabled me to replace my lost driving licence and purchase much needed clothes. I have now gained employment and am reintegrating back into mainstream society."
We were privileged to hear the story of one beneficiary who had been in and out of jail on drug-related crimes since the age of 12, was then sent to rehab and has now been clear of drugs and crime for 18 months.
The Marketors' Trust supports this charity as one of its "regulars". I'm glad.
Monday, 12 July 2010
A large table in front of the Governors laden with books, book tokens, silver cups and military paraphernalia (including our own recently-donated Coxswain's Sword) all to be handed out to bright-eyed and confident young people, achieving across all fields. There are heroes for community service as well as for academic, sporting and musical achievements. A great school serving its pupils well.
Delighted to finish the evening with a tired hand from so much shaking and congratulating!
Numerous awards were made to civilians and military prizewinners. The citations were humbling - there are so many people doing good things for the world. Deeply impressive.
The Group also gave its support for and inputs to a draft presentation I am preparing for the course run in September for Court Assistants and Wardens by the Livery Committee. It's intended to help Liverymen understand and champion the "Business City" as well as the "Civic City". Watch this space.
The analogies between business and sport can be overplayed, with references to teamwork, achieving goals etc. But there seem to be parallels between the City of London and the game of golf.
Compared with other countries, the City has more of a principles-based framework for operations, rather than being rules-based. We all know the importance of integrity and trust e.g. "My word is my bond".
Golf is a self-managing sport. There are no referees. Players are expected to play with honesty and integrity, doing the honourable thing, declaring a penalty against oneself rather than doing what is personally advantageous.
Neither golf nor the City would claim to be perfect but, at their best, both aspire to the same enduring principles.
Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Despite being a choral singer, I had never heard this work before but it is full of choral theatre with soloists positioned around the cathedral singing as echoes to a central soloist. Even cleverer, the echoer sings the end of the word previously sung by the main soloist, with a changed meaning. For example the first tenor sings, "Benedicam" (I bless) and the echo sings "Dicam" (I shall tell). Again, the first tenor sings, "Remedium" (to remedy) and the echo sings "Medium" (the mediator). Darned clever.
Monteverdi wrote it in 1610 as a job application for Maestro di Cappella at the Basilica of St Mark's in Venice. No surprises that he was appointed 4 days after the first performance.
Monday, 28 June 2010
To give you a taster:
Monday - flag-raising for Armed Forces day (see previous post)
Tuesday - garden party at Buckingham Palace followed by a concert at St Paul's Cathedral
Wednesday - meeting with this year's Marketors' committee chairmen to review progress
Thursday - breakfast at Butchers' Hall; election of the new Sheriffs at Guildhall; business court meeting.
Saturday - St Dunstan's College CCF Contingent dinner
Sunday - visit by 38 Marketors to historic Guildford
More in my next, as they say.
Monday, 21 June 2010
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Most memorable item: the fabulous crested helmets, originally copied from mainland Europe and made out of brass (in the days when most buildings were not electrified). The crests were allegedly to protect the wearer from falling debris, but actually just looked terrific. Even in today's kevlar versions, the trace of a crest can still be seen.
This is where, 300 years ago, mass production of iron started. If you have children doing GCSE Chemistry they will have learnt about blast furnaces (limestone, iron ore and coke) and at the Coalbrookdale Museum you can see the real Old Furnace built by Abraham Darby. Originally designed to produce large quantities of cheap cooking pots for the poor (it actually said that in the patent application), this technique crashed through materials science of the day and enabled iron to become the construction and ornamental material of choice.
And that's just the start. Spectacular tiles, pottery and the reconstructed Victorian town of Blists Hill, all faithfully reproduced and peopled by enthusiastic volunteers all itching to engage you in their stories. Don't miss it.
The weekend ended with an agreement to form a Masters' Association for the "class of 2010", as a way of keeping in touch with each other after our years as Masters are over.
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
It took place in the Officers' Mess of the Royal Logistic Corps at Regents' Park Barracks - this was interesting since our "own" 151 (London) Transport Regiment are also part of the RLC.
Interesting snippet of history: traditionally the RLC provides cars and drivers for Royalty whenever they attend military functions, and provide The Queen's Baggage Train for the use of the Sovereign and her guests, especially on State Visits.
Monday, 24 May 2010
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
From L to R they are Victor Chopin-John, Roger Howes, Anthony Fraser (team captain and Top Gun) and Graeme Doctor.
On a hot May day we joined 73 other Livery Companies at the immaculately-groomed grounds of Holland & Holland to test our skill against some hotshots - the Gunmakers' put in at least 7 teams. We didn't win any prizes, but we had great fun while contributing to the more than £40 million a year given by Livery Companies to charities.
A big thank you to Anthony, for taking the initiative. He even missed his lunch in order to dash across London to fulfil an Outreach commitment - a star indeed.
As always, I learned a great deal - some of it articulating what I knew but had never put into words, others a complete revelation. Here are some of them (a little tongue in cheek):
- We change our government more often than we change our mattress; except when we need a new one, we take little notice of our mattress; a new mattress doesn't always deliver the experience we expect.
- Programmes that "scrape" people's facebook pages, can pick up their sentiments by analysing their vocabulary. A different sort of opinion poll.
- The Americans approach their politics very differently from the Brits: they like to join up, to act on behalf of their party or leader, to belong to the movement. The Americans spend significantly more on communications than the Brits and spread out their campaigns over a much longer period. We Brits are more cynical about our politicians ("politics is a blood sport"), more reluctant to believe the messages and our voting habits are very difficult to change. We tend to use media of all kinds, and our network of friends and family, to reinforce existing views, rather than to seek out new data that might change our minds. So the "Obama effect" would be much less likely to be replicated in the UK.
- Typically 20% of seats change in a British general election. In marginal seats, typically 10% of voters are considered "swingable" and will find themselves heavily targeted. Over the 5 years of the last Parliament, the total Labour vote fell by only (very roughly) 1 million votes.
- Young people tend to use the internet for entertainment rather than research.
- All the parties had online strategies, but they failed in execution - not sufficiently flexible to respond to fast-moving events.
- The most effective, memorable messages were either fun (e.g. Duffy) or contained a surprising fact.
Monday, 17 May 2010
The Master and Dr Parmley had two important messages for us:
- The Livery needs to promote itself more strongly, communicating especially the extent of its charitable giving and its pro bono outreach work for charities, schools and other deserving organisations.
- The Corporation of London is keen to encourage liverymen to put themselves forward as prospective Common Councilmen and Sheriffs. Dr Parmley is willing to talk to anyone who would like to find out more. You can contact him at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm sure that our own Alderman and Past Master, Sir Paul Judge, would also be willing to give advice.
To find job descriptions for the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Aldermen, Common Councilmen and others, go to this page and scroll down a little: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/LGNL_Services/Council_and_democracy/Councillors_democracy_and_elections/corp_governance.htm