What a start to the month with the final stages of the Trial of the Pyx at Goldsmiths’ Hall on 1st! This is an extraordinary event which has taken place since 1248 – it is to all intents and purposes a real trial with a Judge, who is Senior Master of the Queen’s Bench and Queen’s Remembrancer Barbara Fontaine (incidentally the first ever woman to hold this post in its 900 year history) and Jury made up of Liverymen from the Goldsmiths’ Company. The Pyx are cases in which are stored standard coins at the correct weight and make up and the trial is to make sure that the coins in circulation are of the standard required. They don’t just measure one coin – this is a through appraisal of a good number of coins from the Royal Mint and is unbelievably complicated (to me anyway!).
After judgement was given, we had lunch with the spectacular Goldsmiths’ treasure gracing the tables. The Deputy Warden, Robert Organ is also Managing Director of the London Assay Office (part of the Goldsmiths Company) and has overall responsibility for some 4 million pieces of assay work each year. This is when a piece of gold is tested and marked with the appropriate assay mark. This is all about branding with the London jaguar’s head being very popular with craftsmen. Dr Phil Carpenter, the Director of Operations of the Royal Mint told me how we are moving towards having an uncopiable £1 coin – there is a huge amount of counterfeit £1 coins in circulation- very shortly. The main speaker was Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, Sir Nicholas Macpherson – this is usually the Chancellor of the Exchequer but with the pending election he was in so-called ‘purdah’.
The following Friday (8th) it was off to Greenwich and HMS Ocean, one of our smaller aircraft carriers. Here I was a guest of the First Sea Lord, General Sir George Zambellas KCB, DSC. The occasion was the RN Peregrine Trophy Awards; the Peregrine Trophy began in 1962 and is awarded to the unit or section with the best portfolio of six images of people, equipment and operations in today’s Royal Navy and Royal Marines. This year’s winner is Chief Petty Officer Thomas ‘Tam’ McDonald of the Fleet Photographic unit (North).It was thrilling to have a tour of HMS Ocean and travel up and down the deck in lifts usually reserved for aircraft. We listened to the impeccable Band of the Royal Marines beating retreat before being shipped to shore.
Off to the Old Bailey the following Tuesday (12th) not for any misdemeanour, I hasten to add! I was invited as Master by Sheriff Fiona Adler to have lunch with the Honourable Judges of the Old Bailey. This was a real upstairs/downstairs occasion with some fascinating people. Firstly we had lunch – it went like clockwork in almost school dinner style – with some 15 of our country’s most senior judges sitting there still in their gowns. These are very clever people with fine minds. It was so interesting to hear and see the process of law so close up. Then downstairs where I watched the trial of a self-confessed drug dealer accused of murdering a boy of 17 with a shotgun. There were about 24 people operating in the Court Room all painstakingly going over every detail, item by item to ensure the due and fair process of our law.
Later that day, I attended the 361th Festival Service of the Sons and Friends of the Clergy at St Paul’s. Again I was impressed by the range and scope of the work of the City of London. This service was so impressive – three choirs came from all over the country. The music was magnificent. Then amongst all this grandeur we listened to Vivienne Faull, Dean of York talking about the difficulties people have in the more rural parts of our country. In particular Dean Faull talked about how hard it is to find clergy to minister in the North of England where it is difficult to earn a living. It seemed like I had seen the full range of life that day.
Later that week (14th) was the celebration of the 800th Anniversary of the Sealing of the London Mayoral Charter at Temple Church followed by a reception at Middle Temple. Did you know that the Charter of the City of London has lasted longer than the Magna Carta? Granted whilst King John was living under the protection of the Templars between the Tower and the Temple it granted the right for London to elect its own Lord Mayor. It was granted on the 9th May 1215.
We were lucky enough to listen to Richard Chartres, Bishop of London deliver a great sermon on the Judeo-Christian origins of the Magna Carta which requires of all our leaders ‘a servant spirit’ informed by the Common Good and expressed in the law. I was so impressed that afterwards I asked His Grace for a soft copy. To my surprise he handed me the copy he had just read from.
The next week (19th) I went to the 6th Annual Security Lecture as guest of the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals given by Commander Stephen Head National Coordinator for Economic Crime. This was held very appropriately at the headquarters of the City of London Police. There are some shocking statistics on cyber crime – something like £60 billion in costs to business and with only 15 to 20% of these crimes reported. The key message was that all governmental agencies and businesses themselves had now to share their information and by doing this, the jigsaw of intelligence could be made to work more effectively for all our sakes.
The following day (20th) as Master I was invited to the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. While I wasn’t presented to Her Majesty the Queen, I did find myself in a front row position as she, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, made her way down the receiving line. I felt all society was present from a bishop in top hat and full clerical morning suit with his red bib and cross, to a man complete with huge earring and Mao style suit looking like an old Ringo Starr – clearly out of his comfort zone to two missionaries from Belize. It was a lovely occasion.
On 21st May it was the 151 Regimental Dinner hosted by Fujitsu at its head office in Baker Street. I was delighted to present the Marketors’ Award to Captain Andrew Balchin RLC for his contribution of 100 Man Training Days and his effective and impressive input into the Regiment’s training and wider activities.
So as May draws to a close, it was with great sadness I attended the funeral of Liveryman Sue Ash at St Brides on the 28th. It was a lovely and at times heart-rending service and celebration of the life of a lovely and talented lady attended by hundreds of friends. She was 52.
On Friday the 29th I attended the first Brigantes breakfast for Liverymen living in the North. This is the first such event in several hundred years. Around 250 people attended including the Senior Warden and six other members of the Marketor’s family. The quite brilliant logo for the new organisation is the work of Liveryman Andrew Cross.