Master’s Lockdown Diary
18 February 2021
January 2021-Mid February
The New Year brought in more lockdown, so any thoughts of going anywhere rapidly receded. We had been due to go to Norfolk for the New Year, which was obviously cancelled. Jane and I then decided to make a change during the week and to walk each day where we hadn’t before, as a result several new local walks were found which were enjoyed by our Labrador, Schnapps as well as us.
Business of the Company continues, regardless of restrictions. The January Master and Wardens’ meeting was held via Zoom, as all events continue to do so. Later that day I was delighted to Install and welcome eight new EVSA students to the Freedom of the Company. It was a most enjoyable evening.
To keep all our communication going, I speak regularly with The Clerk, Registrar, Chairman of the Craft Committee, Chairman of the Executive Examinations Group and the Registrar and Chairman of the Farrier’s Registration Council.
The City of London put on an excellent Preview of the Centenary Exhibition in the Guildhall Art Gallery on Noel Coward. Many well known actors and artists spoke of the great impact Noel Coward had on fashion, theatre, art and so much more. Cocktails and Laughter was one of the themes. It will be well worth visiting when the exhibition can open.
I joined Jane on a virtual tour of Spitalfields with the City Consorts, a fascinating history of the many cultures that have contributed to the area over the years, including the Huguenots of whom Jane is related to.
Lars Andersen, Master of the Entrepreneurs, organised a Zoom on ‘Will we meet in 2021’ for the Masters and their Consorts to hear the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs speak. Hopefully we will all meet in 2021!
Another virtual tour, this time on the Wren Churches, again very interesting including hearing about St Michael Paternoster Royal where the WCF hold the Installation service.
The Master of the Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers, Sarah Adams Diffey is a great lover and owner of Bugatti motor cars, she kindly invited me and other Masters to a visit and tour of the Ivan Dutton Bugatti restoration workshop. Fascinating and very expensive! He proposes to take a Bugatti to the Bonneville Salt Flats aiming to exceed 150 miles per hour. Rather him than me! I also attended their pub crawl around the City!
Many attended the brilliant tour of ‘When Horses ran London’ organised by Nick Cutting and the Livery Committee. Charlie Forman, a member of the City of Westminster Guide Lecturers gave us a window into the lives of the horses and their owners, some fairing considerably better than others and how there are some of the stables and yards still in use today, though in different guises. Afterwards we had questions and answers for very lively and convivial discussion over glasses of wine.
The Gresham College Lecture was on ‘Building Back Better: The City’s Role in a Green-Led Economic Recovery’. The Lord Mayor, Rhian-Mari Thomas, Liv Garfield and Mark Carney all spoke.
The Denis Oliver Lecture was very well supported, again organised by the Livery Committee with advice from Past Master Carl Bettison and Peter Ibbotson. The focus of this year’s Lecture was on Brooke’s work as an international equine charity that the WCF have been working closely with over the past few years. Brooke’s Patron, Alastair Stewart, oversaw the evening and interviewed three of Brooke’s team, including their new Chief Executive Chris Wainwright, Brooke vet Dr Shereene Williams and Alex Ridgeway a Newmarket farrier who is the project co-ordinator for Brooke’s global farriery work. An excellent evening for all.
I continue to telephone members of the Livery and would welcome anyone who may wish to have a chat.
23 December 2020
Mid November-Christmas 2020
The November Master and Wardens meeting took place on the inevitable Zoom.
The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass held a fascinating Zoom evening on Pugin and Tiffany’s work in glass. Each artist had an expert discussing the merits of their work. We were able to vote on who we considered the best. Pugin, my favourite won! It was a very well organised event. There were break out rooms at the end for a chat over wine. Interestingly, I was in a group with a Liveryman of the Glaziers and I was able to thank them for a grant given 25 years ago for the restoration of heraldic glass in our church, St Andrew’s Wimpole!
I attended The Lord Mayor and Team’s address to the Masters’ and Clerks which covered the major issues resulting from the impact of Covid-19 on the Livery and especially on the City of London. Several of the Livery Companies have been involved with providing food for NHS staff and the homeless.
The Executive Examinations Group held their meeting which I attended and found extremely informative.
I had so hoped that my first Court meeting could have been held live, but it was not to be, so Zoom it was. It was a lively meeting with plenty of discussion. Dr James Sutton was confirmed as the WCF’s new appointee to the Farriers Registration Council.
The Lord Mayor held a Zoom Carol Service, organised by The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists Charity, The Friends of the City Churches, The Lord Mayor’s Appeal and VOCES8 Foundation. In the region of 1000 attended! There were lovely readings and carols sung by VOCES8. Hopefully a considerable amount of money was raised for the charities.
The joint WCF/Brooke meeting was held via Zoom, which miraculously took us to a Brick Kiln in Pakistan. The local speakers, vets and farriers were able to explain how the assistance from the Brooke had lessened some of the overloading of the horses, donkeys and mules, thereby improving their health. It was pointed out that when the population have so little for themselves and their families, it can at times be difficult to consider their animals.
The British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association and the WCF’s Craft Committee had their joint meeting chaired by Assistant Tom Burch and the BFBA was represented by Craig D’Arcy. It was a great pleasure to take part in their discussions held in great harmony with one another.
The Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers invited me to join their lecture given by Giles Taylor, a car designer of great repute. Their master, Mrs Sarah Adams-Diffy and I have many shared interests, from 1 bhp to several hundred bhp!
On the 15th December we were due to meet for the Farriers' Christmas Carol service at St Michael Paternoster Royal. This of course could not happen, but instead we had our Carol Service on Zoom. The lovely service was devised by our Chaplain, The Reverend Canon Dr Flora Winfield and masterminded superbly by our Clerk. The service followed the familiar readings of the Christmas story interspersed with us singing carols, which were elegantly accompanied by our own pianist, Assistant Dr Mike Knapton. The Farriers' Chorister at Salisbury Cathedral, Rory Law, gave us a special treat with his solo of the first verse of Once in Royal David's City, recorded beforehand; St Martin in the Fields High School for Girls pre recorded a lovely version of Silent Night and we heard King’s College Choir, Cambridge singing the Sussex Carol. It was a great start to Christmas and finished off with break out rooms for lively conversation and Christmas wishes to one and all.
2020 has been an unnerving roller coaster year, with us all desperately hoping that the virus would be under control, but instead we all find ourselves in severe states of lockdown. This will of course mean that many of us, including Jane and I, will not be with our loved ones and dear friends over the festive period. However, we must look forward to 2021 and with it, a gradual path back to normality when we can all meet again in joy and fellowship.
I wish you all a peaceful and reflective Christmas 2020.
23 November 2020
Mid October- mid November
Within the world of Zoom, the WCF/Brooke Global Farriery Strategic catch up meeting was at the end of October. Lots to talk about and hear how the aim is to improve horses, donkeys and mules lives by training farriers in the countries Brooke is active in, including Senegal, East and West Africa, Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Nepal. A mobile forge was taken out for the local farriers to use and hopefully make more. Apparently, the locals make tools and equipment out of whatever they can find, bicycle wheels for fans are a speciality!
We had the Investment Committee meeting and I am pleased to say that despite the pandemic our investments are being well cared for.
I joined Jane at the City Consorts evening, for The Secret Room Magic Evening with Alan Hudson. Magic always appears to be ‘magic’, I couldn’t quite understand just how it would work on Zoom, amazingly it did!
The Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers held their annual Aerospace Industry Event Zoom lecture. There were 3 excellent speakers, Sir Stephen Hillier, Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, Group Captain Emily Flynn, Station Officer at Brize Norton. She spoke about the assistance the base were giving to assist with the pandemic, as well as their regular commitments. Wing Commander Andy Green, the world’s fastest man on earth informed us of the progress Bloodhound and the team are making in their bid to travel at 1000mph on South Africa’s salt pans. I was totally enthralled listening to him talking about driving Bloodhound, which is powered by a Typhoon jet engine, plus a rocket booster. It was an excellent evening with a breakout session.
The Annual World Horse Welfare conference, normally held at The Royal Geographic Society was as expected on Zoom. It was remarkable how speakers from Australia, France, Ireland and the UK all connected successfully. The discussions were of the ‘horse-human partnership – what’s in it for the horse’ and of how possibly what man thinks a horse enjoys because he does, isn’t necessarily pleasurable for the horse. Keeping a horse in a stable for 23 hours a day to keep them warm and dry was an example, when getting out into the field would be far more natural. HRH The Princess Royal gave the closing address, summing up all that had been discussed.
The Master and Wardens' meeting took place, at least no one had to travel from their homes!
As much as I would like to be doing more, I am aware that all Masters are in a similar position. I have been spending time telephoning members of the Livery, if anyone would like to telephone me, they are very welcome to do so. 01223 207321.
20th October 2020
My first role as Master was to attend Common Hall for the election of the Lord Mayor of the City of London. Royston station was empty and I found myself with a 12 carriage train virtually to myself! It was quite a shock to see Cheapside with hardly anyone about. I was rather early and as I could hear the sound of church bells I went inside and heard the organ playing, it sounded beautiful, I was somewhat shocked when the muffled sounds from behind me were of a coffin being carried into the church…….I beat a hasty retreat and made my way into Guildhall. It was all rather surreal, as instead of the hall being full, there were just 54 Masters, spread around. Alderman William Russell was elected for a second term as Lord Mayor. I met the Master of the Coach Makers and Coach Harness Makers’, we were chatting and discovered I had met her husband via motor racing, it is a small world!
The Mistress and I attended The Horners’ Company Zoom Banquet, a novelty! We were all dressed up, had wine and supper ready, settled ourselves in the dining room with candles for atmosphere, turned on the ipad - magic and we had joined the Banquet! It was very enjoyable, following the normal formalities with speeches and toasts. There were three breakout sessions for general chatting and meeting other Masters. Schnapps, our black Labrador joined us, hoping for a morsel to find its way to her!
We also attended a Zoom Wizardry in Wood which was put on by The Turners Company. There were three fascinating demonstrations by award winning turners, each producing very different items. There was also, an extremely interesting talk given by Sarah Faberge, she spoke about her Grandfather starting his business in St Petersburg, with the famous Faberge eggs and other stunning pieces, to the present day. There are a number of beautiful objects in the Royal Collection.
The first Master and Wardens meeting was held live in Chipperfield Village Hall, all suitably distanced with separate tables. It was good to have our first meeting together in person, rather than by Zoom.
The Craft Committee met, needless to say by Zoom, it was very informative, especially for me.
Last Friday evening was the WCF’s first Zoom social evening in place of the Livery Dinner, which would have been held on HQS Wellington. Thanks to Charlotte’s skill in organising the event, we all had a very jolly time chatting in the ‘breakout rooms’. Assistant Guy Reynolds proposed the toast to the Company and Master. He spoke about the effects of Covid 19 on farriery and compared it to the most recent Foot and Mouth outbreak, which as a rural problem had much more effect on farriery than Covid, being more of an urban issue currently. Rosie Clifford and Alex Haigh sang three excellent songs, including Flanders and Swan’s Hippopotamus Song! Past Master David Short wrote the Annual Livery Anthem; he was ably accompanied by Assistant Mike Knapton on the piano, we all unmuted ourselves and sang along! The Loyal Toasts were given sitting down as per the Royal Navy from when William IV gave a dispensation due to bumping the royal head!
I will update this diary in due course, in the meantime stay in touch and keep safe.