Saturday night saw me on the road to Ewell to the officers mess of 135 Squadron for dinner, hosted by Major Michael James.
The Master was supported by Mark Larard, himself a member of the TA. We were surrounded by officers in their red and black mess kit, sporting their assorted medals, including the new Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal which was only awarded in early February – it was a very smart occasion.
The squadron are all reservists, that is part time soldiers, who volunteer to provide a vital role in the support to front line troops, by surveying terrain, preparing maps, and distributing vital information to those planning for manoeuvres on the ground.
These days the role of the surveyor is no longer tied to a theodolite and level but is based on an extremely sophisticated GPS system. But these are backed up by observations on the ground and many of the Squadron have seen active service in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the more day to day survey role on the Green line in Cyprus.
The Master was sitting next to their Honorary Colonel Vanessa Lawrence, who is also the head of the Ordinance Survey, a lady surveyor and geographer, who has lead a spectacularly adventurous life, taking her all over the world, to a number of battle zones, acting as advisor to Nelson Mandela, and when injured in Fiji being rescued by Billy Connelly – don’t ask – no doubt there is a book to follow.
The association with the Squadron goes back many years and is much appreciated by the members as it shows recognition and support from the civilian world, at a time when many do not understand or appreciate how very brave and committed our armed forces are in fulfilling their role in defending our country.
Carry on the good works lads!
Today I attended the Schroders seminar for Livery companies – the title was ‘Eurozone Crisis – where Politics and Economics Collide!’ And the main speaker was Alan J Brown, Schroders Chief Investment Officer.
The seminar was attended by a cross section of Livery Companies from the mighty Drapers to the modern companies. Alan did us the complement of assuming we were all well versed in the details of global economics and fiscal policies. The message was tough, many risks on the down side and not much joy on the upside for the next few years. Anything from a good dose of inflation to the break down of democracy in countries where the government tries to enforce austerity measures, and even the horror of Angela Merkel supporting Sarkozy’‘s bid for president. But despite this tale of woe, there were glimmers of hope in the US, and good value in the stock market.
Alan summed up his view of sovereign debt in the words of James Grant
Government bonds – once a risk free rate – now a return free risk
And asked – which would you prefer, a 10 year gilt with a yield of 2% or Marks and Spencer with a yield of 4.8%?
For those of you who know Tom Montagu-Pollock, who looks after the investment portfolio, he has done an excellent job for both the company and the Charitable Trust, and although it had a disappointing end to 2011, he has stayed true to the strategy of staying long in equities and short in bonds. Which given the pearls of wisdom from the gurus, puts us in the right place for the future.
Shrove Tuesday saw your Master and the team including the dynamic David Reynolds duo running for their company in the Annual Poulters pancake race. Due to a minor technical hitch, the Master arrived without a robe – which is the required dress code and the Master Poulter was kind enough to come to the aid of a damsel in distress – see photos.
The Shrove Tuesday Pancake Race
Each team consists of four competitors who compete for the Trophy — frying pans are awarded to the winner of each class final. Traditionally the Gunmakers start each heat with a bang, the Clockmakers are responsible for the accuracy of the timing, the Fruiterers provide lemons, the Cutlers plastic forks, the Glovers white gloves worn by each runner, and the Poulters the eggs essential in the making of the pancakes. A recent welcome additional attraction has been a specially commissioned piece sung by the Musicians Company.
For the record, the Clockmakers won the Masters race, who not only had a distinct height advantage, but his company was responsible for the time keeping! (Fix?). And the Loriniers got the wooden spoon.
From left to right: David Reynolds, John.Reyers, David Reynolds, The Master
Although not exactly distinguished in their heats, our team did not disgrace the company and training will be honed for a winning performance next year! As surveyors, we could even volunteer to measure the course… if nothing else it would guarantee our entry!
No happier sight than the bottle of water and Simon Kolesar and Liz’ Edwards smiling faces to greet us as we finally burst through the double doors from the staircase onto the 36th floor at the Heron Tower, on Thursday.
In total over 300 people took part, many of them Liverymen and all completed the run in record time – rumours at the bottom of the stairs that the journey might take half an hour were unfounded as even the Master managed the ‘run’ in just under 12 minutes, without needing oxygen or a helicopter rescue.
The best time was achieved by Sean Paynter, running with Chase & Partners, although clearly a ringer, (4 mins 46 secs) and Robert Skiodlebrand of Montagu Evens (veteran) (5 mins 40 secs). The girls weren’t far behind, with Rachael Beaumont from Russell Cooke (6 mins 20 secs) and Suzanne Gill from McGregors who made it in 7 minutes 17 sec, although she had been practicing and was heard to say that the competition in the veteran class was not great.
The attire varied from the keen types in running singlets and shorts — Liz Peace from BPF, pink track suit – and instantly dubbed ‘Barbie’ your Master and double breasted suit, brogues, shirt and tie, Simon Camamile who hardly worked up a sweat. What style that man has!
And talking of style the reception committee included the Chairman of LandAid Mike Slade – notable by his absence on the stairways — and the lovely and generous Lisa Ronson from Heron, who made the whole thing possible. Great credit to the organisers also to Sarah and Joanna from Land Aid and our own Laurence Johnstone, whose idea it was and whose towerless efforts made it all go like clockwork on the day – what a triumph for the LandAid and WCCS charities – could be as much as £50k – so keep on collecting!
But the star of the show I have to say was the building – the most stylish act of all, beautifully built with some of the most stunning views in London, we salute you the Heron Tower.
For a report and photos of the event, see http://www.landaid.org/latest-landaid-news/cbre-property-peak-challenge.html
More will follow soon from the Master, but in the meantime here’s a reminder of this years’ programme of events:
Thursday 23 February 2012: ‘Tower Running Event’ – Heron Tower, Bishopsgate, EC3
Monday 12 March 2012: Inter-Livery Swimathon
Monday 19 March 2012: Spring Livery Dinner – Vintners’ Hall
Friday 23 March 2012: United Guilds Service – St. Paul’s
Wednesday 2 May 2012: Croquet and party at The Hurlingham Club
Tuesday 23 May 2012: GSMD Music Competition
Monday 11 June 2012: Ladies Banquet at Tallow Chandlers’ Hall
Wednesday 13 June 2012: Livery Golf Day – Worplesdon Golf Club
Friday 22 June 2012: Visit to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Julius Caesar
Monday 25 June 2012: Election of Sheriffs – Guildhall
Thursday 5 July 2012: Court & Livery Lunch – Watermans’ Hall
Monday 1 October 2012: Election of Lord Mayor – Guildhall
Wednesday 3 October 2012: Central School of Ballet – evening event & reception
Monday 15 October 2012: Installation Dinner