Wednesday, 16 March 2011
A fine lunch today at the Honourable Company of Master Mariners' Hall. The only one which is a ship and the only Livery Hall in Westminster. It is still, however, justifiably a City Livery Hall since the ship's moorings are in the right place!
Welcomed on board by the Master it was gratifying to see that both the Master and the Clerk sported appropriate seafaring beards. Not perhaps in the Captain Birds Eye or John Player class but still good to see nevertheless. With drinks first on the aft deck, suitably covered and with heaters, one could admire the Thames and feel it under one's feet--it was happily not a choppy water day. The ship, whilst the home of the Master Mariners Company is also a museum,with a model room containing a priceless collection of antique model boats. It also houses an impressive library and runs educational maritime courses for children. I could have spent longer wandering around but lunch called.
At lunch I sat opposite the Clerk to the Tallow Chandlers. He told me that they had had only two clerks (Uncle and Nephew) in 90 years up to 1979. Remarkable but financially ruinous for the Company as neither had any financial sense. Unlike our Clerk who, even with nurturing, may not last 45 years but has a great deal of financial sense. The speaker after an excellent lunch was the Deputy Master of Trinity House who spoke about the different aspects of maintaining safety and security in the seas round this island. This also includes, apparently, moving sunken wrecks where they might endanger shipping. It was a convivial lunch but in conversation it was clear that whilst the Army is suffering significant reductions in funding the Navy is being hit even harder. At least the Master Mariners will stay afloat.