Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Worshipful Company of Poulters 11th Inter Livery Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races Held in the Guildhall Yard, Tuesday 17 February 2015

The intrepid Chartered Surveyor’s Livery Pancake Team (CSLPT) comprising David Mann disguised as “the Gherkin”, Laura Wardell as our star athlete, David Reynolds as the brains and myself as the dead weight anchor, performed miracles at this year’s Shrove Tuesday Pancake Race at Guildhall.

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In the Masters race I carefully positioned myself in joint last place so as to add tension to the other races given that a low rating could well disqualify us for next year, such is the competition to gain entry in to the event with the result that there were qualifying heats for next years race! Fortunately David Mann was a winner, David Reynolds came second and Laura Wardell won by a mile but lost her hat in her desperate lunge for the finishing line and was immediately taken into the stewards enclosure to be checked over.

Coached by our experienced and hard edged Clerk, Amanda Jackson, we were whipped in to shape with a 10 minute team talk focussing on “how not to fall over”. Clearly, the briefing worked as although there were casualties our team completed each race without injury and the vet was not brought out to dispatch anyone with an  untreatable fetlock breakage.

The aggressiveness of each race took my breath away but the heavy cast iron frying pans we were holding ensured that distance between the Liveries was maintained in the defined lanes with only one or two scuffles breaking out. The big confrontation came at the end of the novelty race as the bearded male ballerina had found some admirers in the audience, not least the Deputy Sheriff who were keen to make his acquaintance. As he won the Lord Mayors prize for the best novelty appearance he clearly was in strong demand.

The ultimate sacrifice on a day of bravery and exertion beyond normal human limits was made by myself as Master and the Clerk who were unable to attend the splendid lunch that followed as we had to wearily make our way to Apothecaries’ Hall in time for our afternoon of committee meetings.

For those who study form and may have well visited Bet Fred earlier to place some dough on an accumulator on the outcome of the pancake races results, they are as below:

THE MASTERS’ QUALIFYING RACE

 TOBACCO PIPE MAKERS AND TOBACCO BLENDERS

ACTUARIES

CARMEN

SOCIETY OF YOUNG FREEMEN

ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANERS

 THE MASTERS’ RACE

 TYLERS AND BRICKLAYERS

 THE LIVERY RACE

BUTCHERS

 THE LADIES RACE

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGISTS

 THE NOVELTY RACE

 TYLERS AND BRICKLAYERS

 VICTOR LUDORUM

 BUTCHERS

 Graham F. Chase  Master

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Committee meetings at Apothecaries Hall, Tuesday 17 February 2015

It will not be my normal practice to blog on committee meetings but this seems like a good time to bring avid readers of this column up to date following the second series of Chartered Surveyor Livery committee meetings held at our new home of Apothecaries Hall.

The main news item is that with all the Committees terms of reference in it is clear there is some duplication and misunderstanding of roles and responsibilities. Henceforth the Charitable Board is now renamed the Charity Committee with the Court sitting as Trustees ensuring they approve recommendations for Charitable Giving and associated activities. Fundraising will become a sub committee of the Charity Committee and Property Marketing Awards (PMA) a sub committee of the Marketing and Communications Committee. The Royal Charter Working Group will continue to report directly to the Court.

Our target to reach 100 in our Freemen Society is close to being reached already thanks to the tremendous efforts of Assistant Tony Joyce.

I am pleased to report that the Committees have responded favourably to the call to bring forward 10 candidates each for Livery Membership. Now the hard work begins as we persuade them to apply and undertake the required vetting process through the Elections Committee chaired by Past Master Lawrence Johnstone. The Criteria for candidates to achieve a successful application are set out on the Members side of this website and I would urge all Liverymen to play their part in identifying suitable Members who will help the Chartered Surveyors Livery Company achieve the highest possible status in the City with a full cadre and waiting list for entry.

As to Apothecaries Hall, it is an excellent setting for the Court and most Committee meetings but it does have some drawbacks. The main problem is that the hall closes down at 5pm and for the Election Committee that has candidates arriving for interview up to 6pm this is hardly satisfactory with the last candidate this week locked out until he was found by the Clerk. Consequently Election Committee Meetings may well have to be held elsewhere and we will look carefully at the options over the next few weeks.

That is all for now but with Committee meetings focussed and on target I am grateful to the Chairmen and Committee Members for their effort and significant individual and collective commitment which is helping us to move ever forwards and upwards.

Finally please remember Committee meeting summaries of minutes are now posted on the Members side of the web site so you can keep up to date with our activities and achievements as they happen.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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Lynn Painter-Stainers Artist Prize Exhibition The Mall Galleries Monday, Monday 16 February 2015

I have been amazed at the diversity of people I have met at the various Livery functions I have been fortunate enough to attend but I was not prepared for the Sister in Law of one of my closest friends to tap me on the shoulder and ask what I was doing at the Lynn Painter-Stainer  Awards. She had no idea I was the Master of a Livery Company and I had no idea she was a Painter-Stainer with a family that can claim an unbroken membership of this Livery for nearly 500 years.

Anyway having got over the shock of meeting someone out of place, as this was an art exhibition I then had the effort of trying to look more studious and knowledgeable than is natural for me. I am not sure I carried off the deception and no doubt I will be the butt of whispers and giggles when my wife meets up with all her friends but as they say in this job “there is no hiding place”.

The Master Painter Stainer Colin Goodman introduced the master of ceremonies Mr Ken Howard OBE a well known and recognised artist who proceeded to explain that spending £20,000 on a painting was a much better investment than spending £20,000 on a car. I spent the rest of the evening searching for a painting with an engine and automatic gear shift but came to the conclusion that either I had misheard our presenter or that paintings do not offer a GT version with stripes.

They say paintings are a matter of opinion and personal taste which is just as well as I thought the winning portrait of a tree stump with a railway viaduct behind entitled “Viaduct and tank traps” by Wladyslaw just did not do anything for me although I could appreciate the technical expertise. However the second place prize winning painting entitled “Death in Varanasi, burning ghats at dusk”, had me spell bound and enthused to the point that I sought out the artist one Patrick Cullen and immediately launched into my analysis of his painting as “Turneresque”. As I was blurting out my oafish comments I suddenly realised I may have just made the greatest insult possible by comparing his work to another artist. Fortunately I subsequently learnt from his agent that it was the best compliment I could have paid him. That said I then clocked the fact that the painting was for sale at a price that was well beyond my means and that I was perhaps a convenient admirer.

The moral of this story is when you are wandering around in an art gallery exhibition during an Awards ceremony as a visitor with a glass of wine in one hand and a catalogue in another you are most likely to be seen as a potential purchaser and not an art expert. Lesson learnt and I think I got away with it but only just — at least there was no purchase receipt in my pocket the next morning.

I am pleased to report I had a marvellous two hours casting my untrained eye over painted stuff and felt quite artistic by the end, although I suspect the free flowing Cabernet Sauvignon may have helped. A toast in any event for the Painter-Stainers for a most educational and enjoyable evening with its inevitable stories and close shaves for your intrepid would be pretend art expert.

Graham F. Chase  Master

 

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Constructors Awards Dinner Drapers Hall, Thursday 12 February 2015

The magnificence of Drapers Hall can only only be considered in awe reflecting the historic strength of the Drapers Livery Company, one of the Great Twelve and third in the order of precedence as settled in 1515. The venue therefore fairly matched the grandeur of the Worshipful Company of Constructors Awards Dinner recognising excellence in both construction skills and the armed forces the Constructors are associated with.

I was honoured to process into the Great Hall with the Master Constructor Victoria Russell. I was further delighted to learn that our own Past Master Roger Southam, had that day been admitted to the Livery of the Constructors Company and recognised a number of other chartered surveyors in the line of diners.

As I began to feel smug about the dominance of Chartered Surveyor representation I was brought back to heel with the guest speaker, Professor Rudi Klein, telling jokes with quantity surveyors at the butt end of the not too flattering punch lines. Envy will of course take such a route so as humble surveyors we must grin and bear it.

Victoria Russell as Master Constructor, cuts a striking figure and leads by example. No frills and no nonsense but a great sense of serenity, understanding and gentle control through influence and persuasion. If ever I have seen a role model for the property and construction industry as well as modern Livery Companies, Victoria fits like a glove, a most impressive leader.

The Awards reflected a very different way of holding a Livery dinner with several cameos and presentations throughout the evening extending from start to finish by the Master and others.

As to the food and wine, for me the coupe-de-gras was the sloe gin, a most unusual but welcome addition. Having bypassed the port and brandy I did treat myself to one of my favourite tipples before sharing a stirrup cup with the Master.

Another home return at midnight but a very happy smile on my visage.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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Educators Livery Company 2015 lecture series: “International Students” – assets or liabilities, Monday 9 February 2015

For those interested in discreet corners of London which give up their riches reluctantly, Barnards Inn Hall at Gresham College close to Holborn Viaduct is just one of those places.

The pleasing result is that my visits to the regular series of lectures put on every year by the Educators Company at Gresham College always has an added attraction. 1.5 hours CPD, interesting topics and intriguing surroundings make listening to someone else after a long day’s work, “easy peasy” as my old class mates would have said.

Our good friend, Peter Williams OBE, the Master Educator, introduced Dominic Scott OBE the Chief Executive of the UK Council on International Student Affairs — UKCISA. What followed was a thoroughly entertaining overview of government activity on mixing immigration and education policy and coming up with a blunt stick which has almost destroyed the international profile of premium quality British university education overnight.

In an effort to arrest illegal immigration strict rules have been applied to student visas with the default position to deny the Visa  on the grounds there is no evidence that the student will return to their home country at the end of the course. It would appear this destructive blanket approach has been adopted as a matter of course regardless of any evidence to the contrary. In the example of one private college the decision to adopt such a draconian policy was terminal. In its many years of trading the college had never suffered an itinerant student going AWOL at the end of their stay. The result is that a highly regarded private British College having to cease trading.

This spectacularly superficial and ill conceived profile driven policy has shot UK University education in the foot, damaging for good the strength and qualities of British fair play, loss of future goodwill with overseas UK educated students and at a stroke opening up the growth of overseas universities which have now filled the void resulting in the loss of a market that was an economic strength for UK GDP .

At a time when universities in England and Wales are struggling to fill their places, as the market diminishes reflecting the increases in costs of a university education, the future looks challenging and I would suggest rather bleak.

The conclusion is that the asset to the UK university sector that was once International students is now translating into a lost export earning incoming stream which will cost us dearly in the future in many ways.

With so many overseas politicians and businessman educated at UK universities this policy will adversely affect UK PLC GDP as future boardroom goodwill diminishes and ultimately will be lost.

A sombre note to kick-start my journey home. Picking up my bag at the end of the event I suddenly felt tired rather than enthused and shuffled slowly towards Chancery Lane tube station to contemplate the end of the British education empire.

Graham F. Chase  Master

 

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Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects Banquet Vintners Hall, Thursday 5 February 2015

My second Livery company dinner in two nights and this one was white tie so a formal and grand occasion. Arguably Vintners Hall is the home of wine and as guests we were certainly not to be disappointed with what flowed into our glasses. With music provided by the energetic and colourful red tunic’ed “Thames Fanfare Brass” band it very quickly became a party atmosphere.

The Master Architect Canon Dr Geoffrey Purves is something of a celebrity and has recently written a book on the Churches of Northumberland which, having read it, really does give a fascinating insight into a vast heritage which has many hidden facets.

The Upper Warden Mr Peter Murray was sitting next to me. He created a company called “Wordsearch” which won several WCCS PAMADA (now PMA) awards and which in part gave it the launch to what is now as a worldwide corporation operating out of many countries. He is keen to see modern companies play their part in supporting the Mayoralty and business of the City of London and is pleased that we share his vision of better and more frequent communication between our allied and associated liveries in this objective.

The guest speaker who proposed the toast was Lord Shipley OBE. He is passionate about property and understands its profile as a factor of production. There is too much protectionism and he referred to “Banana” as standing for “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody” which in my opinion reflects a truism and is simply an honest statement which just about sums up the problem we have. That is until it affects me of course!

A wonderful evening with a really friendly and generous group of fellow Liverymen from an allied Company who regard our Chartered Surveyors Livery Company with true friendship. I confirmed to my host that we saw the position the same way as Architects provide surveyors with much work and business opportunities following the construction of the buildings designed by them!. I am not sure that was quite taken in the right way. However, I was allowed to leave without any attack on my person or profession and went home having had a marvelous and entertaining full on dinner time with our closely aligned professionals, the Architects Livery Company.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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Coopers Dinner, Coopers Hall, Wednesday 4 February 2015

The large and the small of the Livery Companies characteristics is fairly represented by the contrast of Plaisterers Hall at some 300 covers with Coopers Hall splendid dining Room which seats just 32. It was therefore a rare pleasure to be invited by the Coopers Past Master, Bryan Pickering, to one of their three annual Masters and Clerks dinners.

The Coopers can trace their lineage back to the 12th century with the earliest recorded mention as a Company in 1298. The third and current Coopers Hall is a fine late 17th Century merchants house built in the former Garden of the Duke of Devonshire and hence Devonshire Square. It is within a stones throw of Liverpool Street station although from the serenity of the Square you would never know you were standing in one of the major office locations in London.

Dinner was a sumptuous affair with no less than nine Masters present including the host, Master Cooper, Dr Ian Frood. Amusingly there were as many Clerks who occupied an entire sprig of tables and made sure us Masters kept the conversation on line!

Interestingly Ian, The Master Cooper is a farmer and sells his finest Angus Aberdeen meat to Sainsbury’s but not Tesco. What I do know is that the size of the fillet presented to me is not one I have seen on supermarket shelves and for the first time in my life I left some on my plate. It was similar to some of the portions I have been served in the USA but any other similarity stops there. With 6 courses and fine wines to match my place setting was akin to a jigsaw and was as confusing as some of the messages I get on my computer about software failures. My host, Bryan Pickering wasn’t much help either in deciding on what cutlery to use as the steward very quietly took the fork he was holding in his hand and deftly changed it to a spoon. I stood by the tried and tested approach of working from the outside in but even then I was a knife short for the final course. The pressures on your Master on social protocol are, as you can see, significant and sensitive.

The guest speaker was Mr John Cooper QC a barrister of some repute who gave us a highly entertaining and informative talk but on the understanding that Chatham House rules apply. That suggests I can tell you what was said but not by whom but having identified the speaker I will keep quiet about the content. His key point is that on the whole the public accept that justice is not necessarily the same as fairness but what they do want is for the story to be told and understood so that closure can be secured even if the case is lost. As an Arbitrator I follow that line precisely and agree with the conclusion as put.

A stirrup Cup followed where I quickly said hello and goodbye to both old and new friends in the knowledge that I really should not have taken the wine with every course and that tomorrows appearance at a public inquiry as an expert witness may be a little more testing than usual.

Graham F. Chase  Master

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