August and summer holidays in the Artic

I have always wanted to see polar bears. And for my summer holidays this year I managed to do just that. I took a trip to the most northerly inhabited islands in the world – the Svalbard Islands probably better known by the name of its biggest island, Spitsbergen. As it is part of the Norwegian Artic Territory, we travelled from Oslo to its capital Longyerberian (p. 2000) then took a boat cruise reaching as far north as 81.40 N.

We were lucky enough to have the polar bear sighting of the season – it was a true Fox’s Glacier Mint moment as this absolutely huge polar bear appeared about 70 metres from us. The boat cruise was circumnavigating the islands for the first time this season. It is the most fantastic place and very special with a huge amount of wild life in and around the beautiful glaciers and ice fields. We saw seals and walruses and a very large pod of Beluga whales (the white ones) – there were Svalbard reindeer, artic foxes not to mention the flora and fauna. An altogether wonderful experience and highly recommended.

Marketing Society Annual Cocktail Party at the Gherkin

This happened on 25th August and I was delighted to see Raoul Pinnel awarded an Honorary Fellowship and of course, catch up with my Marketing Society friends.The view from the very top of the Gherkin is ever changing – there are so many new buildings sprouting up so always something new and different to look at. On 3rd September, this is brought home to me even more with the Skywalk event organised by Liveryman Debra Marmor. The Walkie Talkie is a most unusual building with its outside gardens and balconies – there will more about this on our website and in Marketor. But it was a real adventure and thanks to Debra Marmor and Herb Danner and the City Guides for their insights.

Modern Livery Companies’ Dinner – 7th September

The twice a year event for the Masters and Senior Wardens of the Modern Livery Companies was held at the Armourers Hall. Now this is a very old hall, having occupied this sight since 1346; the current hall was build in 1839 then remodelled to its present state in 1872. Not only is it Grade 2* listed but it is a scheduled ancient monument. The interior walls a clad with 16th and 17th century armour, weapons and paintings. Despite our war-like surroundings we had a very amicable evening and had a good ‘house chat’ about our respective companies and how we secure continuity. The Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners hosted this year’s dinner.

Talking about the future – 14th September

Our Past Master Jim Suguy hosted a sell out Tri-Livery Lecture with the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers at the Stationers’ Hall on 14th September. It was a very informative evening with some 150 people turning up to hear about and ask some high level questions about how technology is changing our world. It was great to catch up with a few people I hadn’t seen for ages.

Royal Charter for the Insurers

A few days later (16th) I was a guest of the Worshipful Company of Insurers. Preceded at a wonderful service in St Lawrence Jewry where we were enthralled by the King’s Gentlemen singers we processed to the Guildhall for a magnificent banquet where they were presented with their Royal Charter. There were some 300 of us and as well as a jazz singer and the never dull Post Horn Gallop.

Crossing Hadrian’s Wall to Edinburgh

The highlight of this month has to be our trip to Edinburgh. About a year ago Rod Wilkes suggested that it would be a fine thing to dine on the Royal Yacht Britannia – resting currently in Edinburgh. EdinburghAnd that’s just what we did – we also had lots of other great Scottish experiences. There is so much to do in Edinburgh – from the Whisky Experience (which included sampling in case you are wondering) the Palace of Holyrood House, to visiting the strange and eerie Mary King’s Close. The latter is an underground warren of streets and spaces built over abandoned in the 1760’s; it remained hidden and shrouded in mystery for years and is now a major visitor attraction. As for the Whisky Experience we were shown the world’s largest whisky collection amassed by Brazilian, Clive Vidiz and returned to Scotland in 2008. There is so much to say about this weekend – there will be a full report on our website and in the next Marketor.

600 years since Agincourt

On 22nd September off to the Agincourt Banquet at the Guildhall; as many of you will know the Battle of Agincourt took place on St Crispian’s Day (25th October) almost 600 years ago this year. I was lucky enough to be invited with 700 others to celebrate this anniversary with all the pomp and ceremony you would expect from the City of London. AgincourtThe whole story of the battle was put superbly in context by The Rt. Hon. Lord Sumption OBE, an historian of the Hundred Years’ War with an international reputation and Justice of the Supreme Court. Lord Sumption explained just how well equipped the army was and how the longbow men ably supported Henry V was as he lead them to this major victory. We were entertained by the state trumpeters and an actor performed the great speeches of the day including Shakespeare’s heroic St Crispian’s Day speech – many of you will remember extracts of these including the ‘we few, we happy few, we band of brothers’ and of course ‘once more unto the breach’.

Business Court

Our Business Court took place on 24th September and the election of the new officers of our Company for 2015. Notably Senior Warden, David Pearson becomes Master Elect for 2016 and Phil Andrew will be Junior Warden in 2016.

HMS St Albans and the Marketors’ Cup

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next day (25th) at the crack of dawn I headed to Portsmouth and HMS St Albans with Hugh West and Andy Robinson. As part of a Macmillan Coffee Morning the ship’s officers made cakes and biscuits, which they were selling, to the ship’s crew as part of the fundraising. But that wasn’t the reason for the trip; I was honoured to present the Marketors’ Cup to Able Seaman Charlotte Dodds. Twice in 12 months AB(Sea) Dodds had been in search and rescue incidents and had shown exemplary professionalism. There is more about her valiant efforts on our website.

Sheep Drive over London Bridge

SheepDrive_1Last Sunday (27th) the Worshipful Company of Woolmen held the sheep drive over London Bridge. This is an opportunity for Freemen of the City of London to exercise their sheep herding rights at a charge of £50 each – all the funds raised go to the Lord Mayor’s Charities.   This is great fun with lots of tourists turning up for a good neb (Northern for ‘nosey’). We were so lucky to have one of those glorious sunny September days – adding to the jollity of the event.

Election of the 688th Lord Mayor of the City of London

Michaelmas Common Hall took place on 29th September – this is truly the City on parade. Everyone holding office – Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Aldermen, Masters and the Livery are all in full regalia are summoned to the Guildhall to elect the next Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of the City of London. This age old meeting (some 800 years in existence) is done mostly in silence. The Common Cryer & Serjeant-at-Arms called the Livery to order and then asked the Lord Mayor to withdraw for the election. The Livery votes on the candidate with a shout ‘all’ for a yes, ‘nay’ for no and ‘later’ for someone who may be voted in at another time.

Alderman Lord Mountevans (Jeffrey Evans) was elected 688th Lord Mayor of the City of London and will take office following the Silent Ceremony, which takes place on 13th November at the Guildhall – the day before the Lord Mayor’s Show, his first public engagement. Alderman Mountevans’ theme for the year will be ‘Innovate here – succeed everywhere’.   I am sure we are all looking forward to the Lord Mayor’s Show this year – we Marketors have a splendid float and are taking over Strada near St Paul’s for lunch following the Show.

Two new Sheriffs were elected – Charles Bowman and Dr Christine Rigden taking over from Fiona Adler and Dr Andrew Parmley both of whom have done an outstanding job this year, raising funds for charities and generally giving some brilliantly entertaining speeches.

After the election, we headed off to the very pretty and not often used Wax Chandlers’ Hall just beside the Guildhall in Gresham Street. This is the sixth Hall the Wax Chandlers have had and it was last refurbished in 2004 that transformed the building into the light and airy space it is today.

City Lecture with Brendan Tansey

On 30th September, we had the City Lecture and a full report on this will be in both Marketor and our website in due course. I was delighted that Brendan Tansey, founder and JV partner of Havas Digital based in Shanghai, and a Freeman of the Company, agreed to share his huge experience in marketing and his perspective on business in China.

Brendan Tansey

This year’s event took place at Unilever House thanks to Keith Weed, Marketor and Group V-P of Unilever. Unfortunately, Keith was unable to welcome us in person – but he sent us a video. The President of the Chartered Institute of Marketing together with more than 22 Livery Company Masters were also in the audience. The questions from the floor were fantastic – many who attended had had business interests in the Far East and their insights added to the whole event.

There were so many people to catch up with we were literally asked to leave Unilever House much past the expected time!   But they had looked after us very well all evening and we greatly appreciated it.   We wandered across the road and enjoyed each other’s company for a bit longer at the Blackfriars – this lovely Art Noveau pub has a sitting area outside where we all took advantage of a rather balmy late September evening.

Freedom for Brendan

Before Brendan left to return to Shanghai, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London on Friday, 2nd October. Together with the Clerk and Liveryman Debra Marmor and Herbert Danner, Brendan was granted the Freedom of the City by Murray Craig, Clerk of the Chamberlain’s Office at the City Corporation of London.   Brendan was treated to an amazingly full ceremony as Murray had taken the time to research and point out various aspects of Australia connected to the City recognising where Brendan’s origins.   Following this, it seemed only good and proper to celebrate with a good lunch.

So that’s my news for the past few weeks, looking forward to seeing many of you at the next Great Event, the Bowden Dinner on 15th October.

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