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November 2021 - January 2022: Carry on Carrying on Regardless

Yes! Invitations are coming in, and being accepted with alacrity; the dark miasma is still there (is the “dark” tautological in this sentence? I thought I’d mention it before you did), but restrictions are being eased (so that the country is now at the same state of alertness that 10 Downing Street has apparently enjoyed all along), and everything is virtually back to normal. I’m going to as much as I can while this normality prevails – it’s a lifestyle one can really get used to (if your kidneys can cope with the booze). “What of the days that are not mentioned below?” I hear you cry. Typing. Typing. Always typing.

November 1 2021. The lunchtime zoom discussion between Nigel Israel and Marc Meltonville; a cheerfully entertaining, and informative, interlude in the day. If this was the pilot I’m eagerly awaiting the series they so richly deserve. Then to Guildhall, for a lecture on Keats and his Yeomanry connection, by the Keats Foundation – more fascinating stuff. And some booze and canapes too. Why Keats? Good question. 2021 is the 200th anniversary of his death, as any fule kno.

November 2 2021. The Glovers’ installation – a Court meeting, a church service and a lunch at Drapers’ Hall. The Court started at 9.10. In the morning. So much for my Senior Travelcard. Traditional boozy reception and a good lunch after the rigours of the Court and the uplifting service.

November 4 2021. The Horners’ lecture. At the Royal Society of Medicine in Wimpole Street. I usually get lost north of Oxford Street, but this one was relatively easy. The lecture was by Professor John McGeehan, on “Creating a Circular Plastics Economy with Engineered Enzymes”. This guy was good. Really good. Riveting is the word. Ask me all about polyethylene eating enzymes sometime; I am a Save the Planet chap now. And there was the traditional effervescent reception, and some supper too. Great stuff.

November 6 2021 Flu Jab No 3. We are apparently now invulnerable & invincible. Celebrated by taking Mrs S Senior to lunch by the Thames at Streatley. Saw some swans, and some ducks.

November 8 2021. To Plaisterers’ Hall in the morning, and thence (after an ace bacon roll, food of the gods, and a briefing by a Guards’ RSM) moved in procession (more a scruffy crocodile really, as we were not gowned, merely overcoated ‘n’ raincoated) with all the other Livery Masters to St Paul’s Cathedral. Formed up in the garden – luckily the weather was fine – had a nice service and then planted a cross in the garden of remembrance. All rather moving.

November 9 – 11 2021. Arts Scholars’ Committee meetings. Real Committee meetings, with real people. Great to genuinely get back to normal again, and it was almost as if the plague hadn’t happened (and wasn’t still lurking in some dark corner). Being super-modern and with-it (I suspect using the term “with-it” proves that I am sadly not quite as hip as I think. Ditto use of “hip”) we tried to include some absent committee members via their mobile phones; this was not terribly successful (litotes) – but the meetings were, and the efficient and cheery management of the Company continued. We went to the pub after the final committee on Thursday, and were there for some considerable time.

November 13 2021. The Lord Mayor’s Show. Mary and I went up to see the start, and to have cheery chats with the participants (not all of them, obviously) before they embarked on their mighty endeavour. Luckily for them, it was a fine day (this is jolly unusual for Lord Mayor’s Day, which normally has weather imported from Sennybridge Training Area), and there was a phenomenal amount of good humour and enthusiasm on the streets. We saw everyone move off, waved at them all, and then oozed off to a pub. Despite evidence to the contrary, neither of us is dependent on alcohol.

November 17 2021. Lunch and some arcane ceremonial with the Guildable Manor of Southwark. In Southwark (obvs), where I was summoned as a Juror to a Court Leet. No, I don’t really understand it either, but they have been going since 1327, and are an affable bunch , and it was a jolly (and interesting) day out.

November 18 2021. To the Church of St Bartholomew the Great in the evening to hear about their fundraising plans, and to look round the intriguing triforium, which they hope to open up. I hope they find the money and do it- it will be a great venue (Events Committee take note).

November 22 2021. To an evening reception at the City of London Club to launch the 2022 Big Curry Lunch. Wine, speeches, and canapes (curry ones, naturally). Gave me quite an appetite for the Big Curry itself – which I suppose was the general idea.

November 23 2021. Charterhouse, and an Arts Scholars admissions ceremony – a delightful and well-qualified band of new Freemen, and a further band of perceptive souls who became Liverymen. Despite the interesting room layout (we won’t do it that way again) it was a great evening in some historic surroundings. It was preceded by a meeting of the Past Masters’ Committee; I am allowed to tell you no more than that – even hinting at its existence has probably put me on someone’s hit list.

November 24 2021. Took the Wardens and Deputy Master to lunch (in St Katherine’s Dock, since you ask. Not actually in the dock, but sort of on the edge). Bistro food, beer and wine, over which we put the Arts Scholars to rights – not that there was anything wrong in the first place.

November 25 2021. Lunch in the Guildhall Crypt with the Broad Street Ward Club. After a lifetime of paying subs and attending the lunch as a member (and Past Chairman), this time I was invited as a guest, because the AS are in the Ward (are we? Yes; we have a registered address at Furniture Makers’ Hall. In the Ward). Anyway, it was jolly nice being entertained and having a free lunch. Because I’m all heart, I paid for Mary (another Past Chairman) to go as well. She had a nice time too. Factette; I represented Broad Street on Common Council for 15 years, you know.

November 26 2021. It’s a pretty full week, but it’s Friday at last, and a much awaited AS Fish & Chips lunch at the City Livery Club in its new surroundings somewhere round the back of Fenchurch Street Station (and close to my dentist as it happened. Factette No 2). It was super. We had fish & chips – just what it said on the tin – and then some crumble & custard; the fish & chips was good, but the crumble was just crumble really, and I’m not much of a crumble guy (Factette No 3. Gosh, I am letting my defences down in this)

November 28 2021. To the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in Her Majesty’s Tower of London, for an Advent service, with an impressively large throng of Arts Scholars (and others, of course), led by our Chaplain, Roger Hall. A magical start to Christmas, in incredibly evocative surroundings. And the sun shone, too, which was nice.

December 1 2021. An early train (it used to be our normal ridiculously early commuting service. Retirement has made us slothful) so as to arrive in Exhibition Road by 8.30 for the drama of a private view of the Faberge exhibition at the V&A, with an introduction by Cynthia Coleman Sparke, whose Faberge knowledge is (sorry) fab. Totally brilliant exhibition (and intro). Mr F and his team certainly had a wealth of talent. Yet more stuff to look out for in the dusty corners of antique shops.

December 2 2021. A Court meeting at Guildhall. We ensured that the company continues to run like a well-oiled machine; I think.

December 6 2021. Oh Calamity! (Robertson Hare; look him up). Was greatly looking forward to Mary Rivett-Carnac’s zoomy talk on Turner – Painter turned Architect. Could I get sound or camera? No I jolly well couldn’t. Eventually got camera, which meant I could see everyone, but I could hear nothing. Zilch. Bupkas. And they couldn’t hear me (not quite such a problem). The sound wouldn’t work, however; it had worked earlier (I do check stuff) but it jolly well didn’t at the critical time. Spent ages fiddling and then adopted the cunning ruse of powering off and powering on. Eventually got there. The talk was over (a million apologies, Rose) but I did have sound. There are times in life when you really feel that the answer lies at the bottom of a bottle (Peroni, actually. Not the hard stuff). I’d had a blood test at lunchtime – it wasn’t what you’d call a red letter day.

December 7 2021. Had a zoom with the Clerk. I can’t remember why, but the sound & vision combo still worked perfectly. Come to me with your IT problems (and I can program in IBM Assembler too; another facile factette)

December 9 2021. An evening meeting at the Carlton Club, organised by the Middle Warden (cheers, Graham) when he, the Clerk and I met the new CO of the CPPU (Our affiliated Unit? The Monuments Men? Annoying rising inflection?) Commander Roger Curtis, and the retiring CO, Colonel Tim Purbrick. Great to meet Roger, and I am sure the relationship will be a mutually beneficial one. It started off jolly well, anyway, as Graham generously ensured that there was a lot of champagne drunk. You feel quite raffish lurching out of a club in St James’s after a champagne fest; quite the Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright in fact. Or Psmith (an early hero).

December 14 2021. Some masonic stuff, followed by a rather nifty dinner on HQS Wellington (the restaurant that moves in a disconcerting way)

December 16 2021. To an evening lecture by Arts Scholar John Scott, at the Royal Philatelic Society’s sumptuous building in Abchurch Lane, on the Evolution of Decorated Writing Paper, and to see the extensive exhibition of same, part of John’s collection. Fascinating and absorbing; I must up my notepaper game. Earlier, Mary had had attended a small lunch party in the Lord Mayor’s private dining room at Mansion House, hosted by the Lady Mayoress. Ooh, get her!

December 17 2021. The pre-Christmas finale. We were generously invited by Neil Redcliffe to be his guests at the Royal Society Of St George (City of London Branch; the Branch) of which he is the current, and charismatic Chairman. White tie. More champagne. Carols. Post horns. And a mighty fine dinner as well. Spiffing. Really spiffing. Tottered down the road to Guildhall where we slept, rose early, got the train home (City streets eerily quiet), changed, drove to Streatley and met half the family in the Bull for some food, fun, and the traditional exchange of presents in the car park; luckily, the weather was fine. Drove home. Collapsed.

December 25 2021. See December 25 2020. Same thing. Three of us and a turkey.

December 26 2021. The rest of the family came round to help us eat up the turkey. Nice try, but there was an awful lot left (excellent!)

January 6 2022. The Clerk and I to Plaisterers’ Hall for a run through of the banquet at the end of the month (time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted). It’s all going to be fine. Super even. We then had lunch, and enough vin blanc to cheer the soul without impinging too much on our mobility.

January 13 2022. A tour of the Clockmakers’ Museum at the Science Museum, organised by Wendy (Mistress Clockmaker) Levy. Brilliant and quirky tour by the brilliant curator, and then a nice cup of tea (it was mid afternoon; our normal habits are still reprehensible).

January 14 2022. Mansion House again. White tie again. This is getting to be a rather nice habit. This time it is the kindness of the Pattenmakers. What can I say? It was a banquet, at Mansion House. It’s the Ooh, get us! moment again. Brilliant. Then reprised the kip at Guildhall and get early morning train home and then go to the pub with my Mother combo.

January 17 2022. To the Ironmongers’ Monday lunch with a few chums. Surreal. There were two groups that day – us (four of us), and the other group of, probably, 60 members of C2 (the Consorts’ organisation, you know?). Our group had a rather smart table at the top of the room, and they were at 2 long tables beneath us. It’s mad moments like that that perk your life up. The food was jolly good, too (dunno what C2 ate, but ours was super).

January 18 2022. A meeting with the Master Pattenmaker, and the Director of Compton Verney. In Smith Square, a stone’s throw from Parliament. If you want to know why you never see a copper in your area, it’s because they are all hanging around outside the Palace of Westminster, doing posey things with sub machine guns, or eating bacon rolls, or trying to look menacing (or any combination thereof). Oh - the meeting? Sub judice until they put a bid in to the Trustees. Got home in time for the Man from the Gas to check the boiler (which was fine, thanks for asking).

January 20 2022. Ending this blog on a high; today was the day of the AS private evening visit to the Foundling Museum, generously hosted by Jim Moyes. History, passionate guides, champagne, canapes. It couldn’t have been better. The Cambridges (Wills & Kate) had been the day before – I doubt they were treated with more charm than we were. And so to bed.

That’s all, folks. To our next merry meeting!

John Spanner

26 January 2022




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Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed by the author of this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars or its members.

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