Travels of a Clench Groover 2022-2023
THE TRAVELS OF A CLENCH GROOVER in and from the City of London
in the first year of the reign of our present Majesty, King Charles
Liverymen not at Common Hall will be blissfully unaware that your new Master was presented with a clench groover by a senior practising Farrier.
In an odd tradition going back some twenty odd years, the gift of a farrier’s tool is an annual token of the esteem in which the Craft holds the Master of the Company. It is intended to accompany the Master on his year of office to remind him of the Company’s duty to the Craft. Not at all odd.
But this particular gift was not just any old clench groover. This was a clench groover designed by Past Master Carl Bettison and crafted by former Liveryman and experienced farrier, now Suffolk-based knife maker, Sergio Muelle. Further, the tool itself, normally utilitarian at best, is a veritable Masterpiece. It has polished burr oak grips, the oak being no less than three hundred and fifty years old, and is inset with the Farriers’ coat of arms in enamel. Elsewhere is further inset a carving of the lower leg of a horse, carved from timber taken from HMS Victory, and shod in aluminium. And not just any old aluminium. Now take my word for it, but with the pound sinking, and metal prices rising, any aluminium is a good bet, but this particular aluminium came from the shoe of a Class 1 racing filly to boot. So a clench groover with a very distinct and distinctive personality. It could be considered a most Upper Class clench groover. In fact so grand is it, that in public, it has recently adopted the hyphenated form of its name.
Clench-Groover usually reposes on his own and venerable stand of ancient oak, said to be over 1200 years of age. Carl Bettison’s admirable idea is that Clench-Groover can travel safely in a fabric purse provided for the purpose, embroidered with the arms of the Company to avoid confusion with any other old clench groover that might happen to be lying around…. Altogether a very, very senior Clench-Groover, and, gosh, he knows it.
It took a couple of days resting on his stand on a hall table in the comparative tranquillity of the Master’s home before Clench-Groover, feeling even remotely recovered from the demands of Common Hall, the Installation Service and then the pressures of being passed around for inspection at the Installation Dinner, was able to consider going forth. In truth, any rest had been much interrupted as various family members and visiting friends admired him, and learned about the woods and metals used in his construction. You can’t sleep when people are talking about you.
But no prolonged rest was in store. Soon Clench-Groover was to commence his travels, in, and out of his Master’s pocket, in, and out of the great City of London.
Of these travels we shall read.
Sunday 25th September 2022
To the Finale of The Lord Mayor’s Cadet Music Competition
In bright autumnal sunshine, three cadet bands, one representing each service, competed for a number of prizes. Bands were required to march on parade, and to halt in front of the three judges, with each Drum Major reporting the Band ready for inspection by the Lord Mayor’s Representative.
Clench-Groover recognised the Representative as an old acquaintance, none other than the organist Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley, who had played the organ at Installation Services of some of his remote and much less fashionable cousins, including Hoof Knives, the military Expansion-Shoes, and the Hammers, all, of course, much, much older than him.
Those cadet bandsmen had to play three tunes while static, and a series of bugle calls, before seeking leave to march off. Clench-Groover thought that the Corps of Drums from Mill Hill School CCF performed well; their drill and bearing was good, their turnout was impressive, and their repertoire was aimed at the Army judge – British Grenadiers, The Ash Grove, and just in case he was Welsh, Men of Harlech. Their Drum routine was a little too loud for Clench-Groover’s sensitive ears. But coming from military stock, he favoured them over the others. He felt sure that Past Master Short, an Old Millhillian, would rejoice.
Judges represented each service: the Royal Marines Corps Bugle Major, the Senior Drum Major of the Army, and a female Corporal from Central Band RAF. Clench-Groover thought her interesting. She was an amputee, having had an accident in training, but she still played music for the RAF, and was a World Para Snow Sports gold medallist. Impressive.
Prizes were awarded to the best Bugler, the best Drum Major, and the best overall band, with Mill Hill School CCF picking up the first two categories, and Sea Cadet Corps TS Duchess, winning overall.
A buffet lunch in the Crypt of Guildhall preceded prizegiving. Clench-Groover chatted easily with a number of colleagues from other aspects of his life, and eavesdropped on his Master’s conversations with Masters of other Companies and such like, with the prizes being presented by the institutor of the Competition, the aforementioned Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley, Lord Mayor 2016-17. ‘How time flies’, thought Clench-Groover. ‘I seem to recall Parmley when he had just become an Alderman.’ And he was right, as Parmley confirmed.
Later that afternoon: The Monument
The Woolmen’s Fair and Sheep Drive over London Bridge
In even hotter sunshine, Clench-Groover helped his Master, accompanied by his Master’s Lady, find their way from Guildhall to visit the annual Market set up in the shadow of The Monument. He heard his Master say it had been some years since they were last there. Pens with sheep shearing and goats were side by side stalls from the Woolmen, Turners, Bakers, Upholders, Wheelwrights, and the Loriners and Saddlers and possibly others, but Clench-Groover’s power of recall appeared to be still affected by generous wine in the crypt.
Many functional tools of the various trades were on display, and he recognised numerous distant relations; some of them were actually being used. He wasn’t sure whether this was a good thing or bad thing.
Clench-Groover, nothing other than partisan, was rather taken aback when his Master was invited by a Past Master Upholder to drive a copper-headed stud into an oak board, to produce the word ‘Upholders’. His Master grasping the hammer, was told that it had been a hammer used by the Past Master’s grandfather. Sensing disloyalty, or at best, a conflict of interest, Clench-Groover nudged his Master swiftly on. There was much else to see, after all. Many food stalls and trade stands selling mattresses, bedding, clothing, toys, books and much else.
Great fun. Clench-Groover made a mental note to visit on future occasions when he was less in the public eye, and would have time to linger. For sure, Clench-Groover wanted to see how his Master might look in those rather dashing caps made of Romney Marsh tweed (‘not bad’), and to taste the delights of the Bakers’ doughnuts (‘every bit as good as anticipated’), and to make a purchase or two at the Woolmen’s and the Turners’ stalls in preparation for Christmas stockings or more. Clench-Groover peered over the shoulder of his Master and read a splendid cartoon book entitled “There is no substitute for…”. Clench-Groover was sure this must be all about him, but was more than a little crest-fallen when he read ‘…no substitute for wool.’ Suddenly feeling weary, Clench-Groover nudged his Master in the direction of Monument Underground Station, and so homewards, muttering “Rus in urbe, Russell”.
Truth is, while his Master read The Spectator on the train northbound, Clench-Groover nodded off. And so back to the calm of his stand on the hall table.
Tuesday 27th September 2022
Goldsmiths’ Hall: The Prime Warden’s Reception at Goldsmiths’ Fair 2022
It would be unfair and uncharitable to describe Clench-Groover as a snob. Unfair, and unkind, and unwelcome. Nevertheless, he was demonstrably pleased to have received an invitation to the Fortieth Goldsmiths’ Fair on behalf of his Master and his Lady from The Prime Warden, The Lord Bridges, KCVO. Being a well-informed Clench-Groover, he knew instinctively that the Prime Warden had been solicitor to The Queen for almost twenty years, and the Senior Partner of Farrer & Co. He was amused by the similarity between the name of his Livery Company and that of the Prime Warden’s firm. He liked linkages in words. Simple pleasures.
But pleasures of a different order awaited him in that magnificent edifice in Foster Lane. From the moment Clench-Groover ascended the steps beyond the canopied entrance, he knew he was in a different world. The world of one of the Great Twelve Liveries. A palatial Hall, with the most exquisite paintings; a grand staircase, and smart guests; champagne and not prosecco.
Pausing to catch his breath, and to accept the proffered glass of champagne, he accompanied his Master and Lady into a parlour where he introduced himself to the Masters of a number of other Companies. When His Lordship had spoken and presented awards, Clench-Groover propelled his Master and Lady around the various stalls. His eye fell on some fine silverware, some exquisite personal jewellery, conceivably for Mrs Clench-Groover, and a beautiful pair of cuff links for himself, but he resisted temptation, and on this occasion, kept his powder dry. After a couple of hours, he encouraged the Master and Lady to turn for home, as he knew that tomorrow was another busy day.
Wednesday 28th September 2022
Guildhall, and the Admission of Sheriffs
People Who Knew had tipped Clench-Groover that it was well to be at Guildhall early for this ceremony. The new Sheriffs had been elected at Common Hall back on Midsummer Day, but only now were they to take office.
In a short ceremony at noon, Clench-Groover observed the Lord Mayor arrive in state, and the Sheriffs-elect in court dress and gowns process into Guildhall, where they made their declarations of office, and were invested with their new chains of office, before departing to the Sheriffs’ Breakfast. Clench-Groover is sufficiently knowledgeable to realise that it is anything but a Breakfast, actually it is a very jolly luncheon. He was sorry not to have been invited. His Master let slip that he had been a guest when Past Master Halliday had been admitted Sheriff, and C-G was jealous.
Later that day: to Mansion House, for a Reception to mark the 550th anniversary of the Grant of Arms to the Masons’ Company
A brief return home for a bit of administration, and C-G was on the move again, now in the pocket of a very different coat. So popular was this event that a queue had formed outside Mansion House, but more champagne quickly alleviated any passing irritation. The Egyptian Room was rammed with Liverymen, Freemen and Yeomen of the Masons and their guests. C-G was delighted to hear the arrival of HRH The Duke of Gloucester, but try as he could, there was no chance of a direct encounter. His Master was busy re-establishing acquaintances and making fresh connections, and all too soon, it was back to Bank for the underground home; a journey made all the quicker by the company of the City Marshall, who shared his worries about tomorrow’s early start.
Thursday 29th September 2022
At Guildhall again, for the election of the new Lord Mayor at Common Hall
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, C-G sprung back into the inside pocket of his Master’s morning coat, and was off to Guildhall where he learned a hearty breakfast was offered before the procession of Livery Masters into Common Hall for the election.
Here was a face C-G recognised; there one he thought he recognised, and so on. An orderly line of Masters was formed. C-G thought orderly was not quite the word, but no matter, and C-G was thrilled that his Company was slap bang in the middle of all of the Liveries – neither junior, nor senior. Comfortably in the middle. Surrounded by Horner and Pavior, he felt completely at ease, even under the scrutiny of the eyes of liverymen as he processed into a packed Guildhall. C-G’s Master was overheard saying ‘what a change it makes to be able to see what is happening’ as they sat in the second row.
Another shout of “Silence”. More processing; more speeches; more wigs and breeches; nosegays this time; and masses of democracy. When asked, the assemblage seemed to cry with one voice ‘all’, and when asked their opinion on other candidates, they growled ‘later’. And so the will of the people prevailed and there was a result. To the manifest surprise of all present, C-G noted that the favour fell upon Alderman Lyons, who will become the next Lord Mayor in another ceremony, but then without words, in November. C-G was reflecting on the complexities of democracy, and the efficiencies of alternative systems when his musing was interrupted by a fanfare of trumpets. In Guildhall Yard, State Trumpeters were announcing the new Lord Mayor, and the City was content, and he hoped financial markets were calmed by the news. Probably far from likely. A final procession, and sunlight and crowds outside. Then homewards, chatting to the Clerk about next week’s meetings.
The evening of the same day:
18 (Bomber) Squadron, Royal Air Force reception at RAF Odiham
No time for lunch. C-G reminded his Master that a further change of clothes was required before a fast drive to be with the RAF in Hampshire. The M25 was forgiving, and the M3 accommodating, and the Master arrived early, so C-G took the opportunity to brief his Master on the key personalities before being shown into the Mess. Soon it was full of servicemen and women from all three services; of councillors and the odd Mayor; of neighbours; ex-service organisations and affiliated bodies. He was glad to note the presence of the Past Immediate Past Master and Jane Wilsher, who C-G thinks are good eggs and obviously well-liked by 18 Sqn. Then outside for a performance by the Central Band, a guard of honour from the Queen’s Colour Squadron – has it changed its name since the Queen died? C-G tried to find out, but a roar from four Boeing engines announced a low-level fly past by a pair of Chinooks, and soon the evening was over. C-G advised his Master to bid farewell, and set the compass for home, and the Master, being preternaturally compliant, did just that.
Clench-Groover heads north
Friday 6th October 2022
The attentive reader may very well conclude that after an initial and frenzied burst of representative energy, Clench-Groover had enjoyed a comparatively relaxed spell. Inactive, you might say.
“How dare you?” was the sharp riposte from this sharp tool.
Any apparent slowing-down of activity was accounted for by the coincidence of the Master’s Seventieth birthday, which of course required celebration. Celebrations on a scale that befitted his Georgian forebears, courtesy of the Master’s Lady.
Possibly feeling still somewhat jaded, Clench-Groover found himself in a fast and heavily laden car heading from Wiltshire, the site of the celebrations, to the NEC at Birmingham, the site of HOYS. Or should that be Horse of the Year Show?
Never in his life had Clench-Groover covered 120 miles in so short a time, but an early start, bright sunshine and propitious omens resulted in a fortunate journey, a convenient car park, and a quick bus ride to the wrong entrance. This minor setback was remediated by helpful staff who re-directed Clench-Groover and his colleagues to the Press Centre, where welcome coffee and passes were provided, and then straight to the ringside where various introductions were made by Past Master John Peacock and his wife Betty.
And then, Clench-Groover, ever a stickler for dress, noted The Master donning his bowler hat and risking his polished shoes in the sand of the Ring as he was whisked off by Grant Moon to present the rosettes and a plaque for the Best Shod horses in the Hunter classes. Clench-Groover blinked as the cameras flashed, and grinned as the overall winner shook hands, and noted the perfection of the horseshoes; but all too soon, it was the turn of the two female Troopers of the Blues and Royals to march us all out of the Ring and back towards reality.
Clench-Groover heard his Master muse on the sterling work the Peacocks do throughout the year to raise the visibility of both Craft and Company at important shows such as this, and observed that much of the privilege the Company enjoys depends on the personal connections of the Awards Secretary. He noted with great admiration the quiet authority of our Judge, and further, the diligent way in which he recorded the standards of shoeing of all entrants.
Clench-Groover observed that the reputation of the Company is often in the hands of loyal and committed volunteers working in very different conditions, and frequently in the public eye: little can be taken for granted, and these willing and professional senior volunteers merit recognition. He nudged his Master to note the point.
10th October 2022
The BHF Inaugural Conference ‘Better Beginnings’ at Weatherbys, Wellingborough
On a very wet Monday morning journey up the M1, Clench-Groover briefed the Master on what to expect. Fortunately Jane Nixon had provided a comprehensive overview of the speakers and topics, and had helpfully flagged several of the issues confronting breeders and trainers of young horses from conception to two years. Much of the focus was on the increasing threat to equestrianism’s social licence to operate. The Master confided his fear that he would be somewhat out of his depth, but C-G advised him to listen to what was being said, and he would become much wiser by the end of the day. The Master hummed and hahed, but was glad he had heeded C-G. He was also glad to see a number of people to whom he had been introduced when at Burleigh, and others he had encountered on the social whirl that is Mastership, so he was among friends, not least, C-G thought, when chatting with Ben Benson of BFBA. On the return journey, C-G thought he could hear the Master reviewing a number of the topics, and sounding very knowledgeable when the words ‘the emerging importance of omics in equine youngstock production’ slipped out in a traffic jam. C-G had become somewhat worried when the Master had to chair a discussion group, but soon saw that there were some very experienced participants who contributed much to the shared knowledge, relieving the Master of any personal burden or embarrassment. C-G reflected that the day had seen considerable development in the Master’s knowledge, and presumed his self-assurance would be enhanced. ‘Careful, Master’, C-G muttered. ‘Don’t overdo it…. Pride goeth…..’.
Tuesday 11th October 2022
To church, where pride is a deadly sin, and after, where gluttony was to be avoided….
C-G’s next invitation was to attend Harvest Festival evensong at St Martin in the Fields church together with his Master and his wife. The Farmers’ Club was host, and kindly invited a number of Livery Masters and Clerks, some with only tenuous relations with the soil. C-G thought he knew something about soil. He sat with his Clerk, her husband, and with Past Master and Mrs Fleet, which was a pleasant surprise. A good sermon from the Bishop of London drew on her previous agricultural experience when Bishop of Crediton. Then a brief walk down Northumberland Avenue to the Farmers’ Club in Whitehall Court where C-G enjoyed a very generous dinner and jolly conversations with equestrian and with agricultural types.
Wednesday 12th October 2022
The ceremony of the Rendering of the Quit Rents to the Crown
There was not so much as a scintilla or even a trace of surprise when C-G received an invitation to attend this ceremony. Of course, C-G knew that this legal ceremony is second only in age to the Coronation, and he knew that six old horseshoes and sixty one old nails were involved. C-G found himself in the Court of the Lord Chief Justice where his eye was immediately drawn to a bench, perhaps The Bench, which was decked in a curious black and white tablecloth. ‘Was this a masonic influence?’ wondered C-G. Clearly not. No. It was a chequer board, because we were sitting in the Court of Exchequer. Obvious. And on the Board were to be laid several items as rent for land owed to the Crown in the person of the Officer of the Court of Exchequer – the King’s Remembrancer. Now C-G likes dressing up, but the King’s Remembrancer took this to a new level altogether. A sudden shout of “All stand!” and a door high up in the courtroom opened and in glided a lady Judge of the King’s Bench Division in Court Dress, Her short horsehair wig was topped by a black tricorn hat, carefully pinned fore and aft to avoid slippage. We sat, and the business of the day commenced. The King’s Remembrancer was informed that the Sheriffs had arrived from the City, as of old, by water, alighting at Temple Steps and processing in state to the Royal Courts of Justice, accompanied by their official escorts wearing maroon velvet coats and breeches and much smaller wigs. C-G wondered whether they had larger wigs for non-aquatic duties. She was told, further, that Common Council had heard of and commended the doings of the former Sheriffs, now retired, and that back in midsummer, the Liverymen of the City had elected two new Sheriffs – those before her now. Their characters and qualities were described as evidence of their suitability for high office, and were commended to the Crown. Her Ladyship authorised the presentation to them of their Warrants, instructing the Writer to the Exchequer to describe the particularities of the Warrants to each of the Sheriffs. C-G had noted this judicial figure sitting bewigged alongside Her Ladyship. He had seen that not only was he bewigged and in what seemed to be clerical court dress and gown, but that he sported a curious goatee beard, and seemed of great venerability. When asked to address the Court, the Writer assumed a very factual voice; flatness of tone – rather matter of fact, in fact. The only change in his delivery was when he referred to the Warrants being granted during the reign of the late Queen, but to be sealed in the reign of the present King. He suggested that a black line be superimposed on each warrant to mark the uniqueness of the intervening Royal death, which received the approval of the Crown.
C-G was reflecting on all of this as Her Ladyship reminded the Court of the historical context of the ceremony, recalling that various parcels of land had been held directly of the Crown, and this entitled them on performance of ‘the service’ to go ‘quit of rent’. C-G became particularly interested when Her Ladyship referred to the forge in Tweezers Alley owned by Walter Le Brun. He recalled that in 1361, Le Brun’s tenant was one Emma of Tewkesbury, who sought to commute the presentation of new shoes each year for the payment of eighteen pence. This, C-G heard, was permitted, provided she had a set of six shoes and nails made specially for this ceremony, and the shoes and nails proffered are those very shoes from that year. The enormous shoes are laid out on the black and white chequers, and counted out, or checked, one by one: “How many horse shoes?” “Six, my Lady.” “Say how many shoes?” ‘Six, My Lady’, “Fair count.”
“How many nails?” “Ten; twenty; thirty; forty; fifty; sixty….. and one, My Lady.” “How many Nails?” “Sixty and one, My Lady.”……. “Fair number.”
And the payment is received by the Court of Exchequer on behalf of the Crown, and the business of the Court is completed. To justify our attendance, and to postpone C-G’s next encounter with champagne, Her Ladyship had arranged for an historical lecture to educate her audience, and C-G and his Master were regaled by a bio-archeologist who had been studying skeletal remains found recently in Walbrook and in London Wall. She told C-G and his attentive master of the apparent ratio of male and female remains of the first and second centuries – we heard that in those days, Londinium was three to one male. C-G shivered. Also many of the skeletons were of foreigners – two from Scandinavia, others were from north east Africa, one, presumably a servant had been executed – by decapitation, but had come from the eastern Mediterranean. C-G mused that his was a long way to come just to lose your head. One forty-five year old male was a black man who had lived for all his life in England. This was all determined by analysis of DNA, and of the impact of accreted enamel in teeth showing what water had been drunk and for how long. Our speaker proceeded to relate this to contemporary evidence found from the 125 wax tablets discovered in the excavation of the Bloomsburg building in the river valley in Walbrook. The writing on these typically came from males, and was often pleas for warm clothes, other comforts and for female company. There seems to have been little social life in those days.
C-G found all of this considerably interesting, and the lecture ended all too soon. But there was more ceremony. C-G noted the arrival in Court of a man attired as a Victorian officer. A curious small black forage cap with gold staple braided peak, and a gold roundel atop. He wore a brass buttoned tunic coat and carried an elaborate short wand tipped by a heavy crown, and footed with heavy metal. C-G was quick to identify the Court Tipstaff, who formed a procession into which Her Ladyship inserted herself, and we were off to Middle Temple for sustenance. C-G could have made greater inroads into hospitality in the Prince’s Room, but knew he had to keep his Master in check for dinner with the Musicians’ Company later on.
Later that same day…..
A Dinner for Masters and Clerks given by the Musicians’ Company at Apothecaries’ Hall
Following a change of clothes in the bowels of Middle Temple, C-G accompanied his Master on foot, and now in dinner jacket, but not in state, to Black Friars’ Lane where the Clerk quickly joined them for a Reception prior to dinner in the newly refurbished Hall. So many Masters and Prime Wardens; so many Clerks. For the Master Musician, this was a valedictory dinner, and he reflected on the achievements and impacts of his year of office. He mused too, on the relationship between masters and their clerks, and on the language and messaging between them. C-G noted several expressions, hoping to help his Master avoid falling into any pits. He was pleased that his Clerk was referred to in most complimentary terms in the Master’s speech, and thought he might have noticed the slightest blush on the cheek of the Clerk, but the candle light made it hard to be sure. C-G’s eyesight was not infallible, and it had been another very long and interesting and demanding day, after all…..
Clench-Groover sallies forth to the Livery Dinner, and undertakes WORK of a VERY IMPORTANT NATURE
Friday 21 October 2022
‘Blinking wet’ said Clench-Groover. ‘Hurry along there Master’. ‘Here we are, Barbican Station and first on the right, then straight across the road.’ Such easy instructions, and the constant urging of C-G ensured the Master was at Founders’ Hall before anyone else. He made a circumambulation of the Hall, but found no obvious door, so as it was raining heavily, followed C-G’s suggestion and took refuge in a convenient garage entrance opposite. C-G said ‘Do try to look less conspicuous, Master’ but with his gown in a suit bag, and with his chain and badge in its case, this was far from easy, and the garage entrance was slap bang opposite a very attractive-looking PUBLIC HOUSE, but the Master was having none of C-G’s needling. No. None of it. The Master waited under shelter, and before too long, although it seemed like ages later to C-G, along came Victoria Fern pulling an enormous wheeled suitcase, and not much later came the Learned Clerk, seemingly now as a porter, carrying what C-G assumed to be the Mace in its box and much else too complex and confidential to describe, besides.
The Clerk penetrated the somewhat superficial security of the Hall, and C-G found himself muttering about the ‘blinking Marie Celeste’ as there was a distinct shortage of welcome. But the Learned Clerk took control and soon all were gowned, badged and happily in conversation and the stand-in Beadle had the Farriers form a tidy line, itself ‘no easy thing’, thought C-G, to be received by the Master, grasping C-G firmly in his left hand.
And soon too, the Official Guest had arrived and C-G felt that the Master seemed more relaxed. Perhaps it was the slightening of the grip that revealed more than anything else.
Into a line for the procession, following the Beadle and Mace unusually downstairs tonight, into dinner. Master disrobed and settled, C-G found himself being passed around and admired, which is what C-G likes best. Then he was firmly placed in his stand in front of the Master for the remainder of the Dinner. ‘Pah!’
Fish followed fish, it being Friday and also Trafalgar Night, then speeches, during which C-G watched the Master present a medal to the Guest Speaker, who he learned was none other than The Archdeacon of LONDON. Wow! In truth, C-G felt he must have nodded off during the Master’s speech, but applause for the Guest’s speech heralded the arrival of some singers. Callow youths. Seven of them. From a school in Barnet. Something about having been founded by various Liverymen 450 years ago, and they were off – seven songs, many in languages with which C-G was strangely unfamiliar, but he made as to seem to be enjoying it. Others too, seemed to be enjoying it as well, which was as well. He liked less having a little snuff spilled on him, but avoided sneezing. C-G knew the tune but not the words to The Farriers’ Anthem, and more than once, found himself laughing at the lyrics compased by Past Master Short, and the more discordant singing of the Liverymen and Freemen around him. The port circulated, and the old stories were repeated, but too soon, the Beadle, Roy, was banging for people to make way for the Master and his guest and the Wardens to depart, and C-G was grabbed roughly, he thought, and carried from the Hall, and soon into the night and back train-wards.
At Barbican Station, going down the steps, a cheery “Hello Master. How did it go tonight? Was all well?” and C-G recognised our usual Beadle Jamie Wallis rushing to catch a train from an adjacent platform. ‘Coo’ thought C-G, ‘you can’t go anywhere in this place without someone bumping into you’, and soon he was asleep in the Master’s pocket dreaming of more fish and snuff and Foundries. Was it his imagination, or did C-G have a slight headache the following morning?
Working days for C-G
Monday and Tuesday 24/5 October 2022
To Guildhall and early. Wet again. A quick and friendly chat with the Remembrancer, before entering a cold Aldermen’s Court to conduct interviews for the forthcoming vacancy as Clerk.
C-G admired the preparatory work done by the Upper Warden and by several others, and was glad the short list had only five and not fifty-four to be interviewed. Frankly, C-G wanted to interrupt many times; he had such pressing questions to ask, but he kept his head down, and allowed the committee to do their work. Boy, was he ready for a drink when all five had been grilled, and he felt he helped reduce the list for second interviews the following day to two. ‘Both of ‘em women’ noted C-G, not at his most PC, but accurate nonetheless.
On Tuesday, they met in a more informal and much warmer room, and C-G tried his best to be relaxed. He had heard the Master say that either candidate was capable of doing the job, so he felt much easier about the whole thing.
First one, then the other. C-G’s opinion was very clear after the first: ‘she’s the one’ he murmured, but then the second answered some penetrating questions very convincingly, and C-G was changing his mind.
Fortunately it was a democratic process, but try as he did, C-G could not get his vote taken into account. His voice just was not heard. But he was delighted when others were sensible enough to feel as he did, and shortly, he took the Master home, convinced he had done a VERY GOOD JOB in selecting a successor Clerk. C-G was adamant that the Master should refer to the new Clerk as ‘Charlotte’s successor’, and not as he had heard him and others, presumably inadvertently, say Charlotte’s ‘replacement’. C-G knew so well that Charlotte was in a class of her own.
Clench-Groover leaves London and enters Warwickshire for a change of pace
Sunday 30th October and Tuesday 1st November 2022
It was apparent to C-G that his Master had enjoyed a family wedding the previous day.
His packing of bags was hasty and random, and the car loaded without the usual care he had come to expect. C-G found himself placed in his Master’s briefcase, and the briefcase into the boot, and soon the car was on the motorway heading for Stoneleigh and ‘Farrier Focus’….
There he was met by the Craft Secretary Linda Quinn who handed out passes. C-G thought it curious that there wasn’t one for him, but he needn’t have worried. Safe inside the Master’s jacket, he was warm and welcomed. It took the Master simply ages to go around all the stalls and to speak to old friends. He seemed to spend for ever chatting to the academics, and to some of the retailers and to the Registrar of the FRC and to its Chairman, and C-G wondered whether lunch was on the agenda, and just as he thought he heard the rumble of a tummy, the Master was off talking to people from Brooke. He heard a Warden, a very junior Warden at that, suggest a drink, and C-G felt things were moving in the right direction, but a detour to watch a knife-making competition seemed to intervene. And then the President of BFBA wanted to speak about next year’s event, and he heard the Master promise to make serious efforts to ensure wider attendance and participation, and he even watched as the Master sent an email there and then to the Chairman of the Livery Committee to prompt discussion, but still no lunch. The Master, between ourselves, felt he had eaten sufficient at yesterday’s wedding, and he needed a break from food, and quite possibly, from drink as well, and all C-G could do was to accept the inevitable and keep a low profile in the Master’s pocket for the remainder of that very interesting and rather dry day.
The Master’s Lady insisted on C-G helping the Master ‘blow away a few cobwebs’ the next day, and a very energetic walk up a mountain was in store. Well, up Bredon Hill anyway, and C-G was fairly puffed out as they reached the top. Splendid views of the Avon and of the Welsh hills failed to compensate C-G for the absence of lunch at Farrier Focus, and C-G was, to put it mildly, somewhat blunt. He knew the Master had to return to Stoneleigh the following morning for the Examination Board standardisation and Training Day (whatever that might be). C-G did not want to be standardised, or indeed to be trained for that matter. He was unique, and already very well-versed in Farrier-speak, thank you very much. However, he was back in the car and back on the A46 and before long in the headquarters of BFBA back at Stoneleigh. C-G, being an old-fashioned sort of chap, recalled BFBA when it was NAFBAE, and even he thought he could work out what the F and the A stood for in both acronyms, but he was confused over the B. Never mind. He was quickly introduced to about thirty or more serious looking people – some vets, many farriers and some army guys, C-G knew some of them from Zoom meetings and others he thought he knew of old, but it was nice to see them face to face. He listened attentively as the Master opened the day, and C-G felt the Master was doing pretty OK, since he heard him referred to by name, and found himself being passed around to general admiration and more praise.
C-G spent the remainder of the day in his stand in front of the Master, and listening attentively to discussions about marking techniques, about EPAO responsibilities and changes and about ATFs and oh it went on and on. C-G understood that the first day was classroom-based, but the morrow required Safety Boots and Warm Clothing, and was to be spent in The Forge with Live Horses and with Real Students. But sadly C-G knew that his Master had an appointment that day, and a very important appointment to appear at the Old Bailey in front of the Judges and a Sheriff or possibly two. So there was to be no fun in the Forge, and a rush back to London in time to change to look presentable.
From Warwickshire to London in one not very easy bound into The Old Bailey
2nd November 2022
The journey back toward London was fraught for different reasons. For reasons too embarrassing for C-G to relate in writing, the Master and his Lady left later than intended. C-G ascribed it to incompetence, but the Master said the wretched dish washer was broken anyway (or words to that effect). Whatever, they left twenty minutes later than the Master had said. C-G was ready hours before any deadline. He was watching things from the vantage point of the open briefcase, and he didn’t like all he saw. But he was grateful for the cover the briefcase provided.
Twenty minutes is not much, particularly if C-G is having fun, but this was different. And it made all the difference. Each road junction, each roundabout, each pedestrian crossing took longer, and the queues built up, and as the queues built up, so did the tension in the car. ‘But I must be there by 12.20.’ Why so early? ‘Because that is what the invitation stipulates.’ Anyhow, the journey by road needed no further description, but the Master drew on experience of things the Army called ‘Change Parades’ when he was required to parade in one order of dress, only to have to double away to change into something completely different and return to the Square for inspection, before the whole process was repeated…. Just a simple way of ruining one’s kit layout, he thought.
But following a quick change, into a stiff collar for HM Judges, and off to the Old Bailey, where he chatted sometimes amiably, sometimes cautiously, to one judge, then to another; to one Sheriff, then to an Alderman, about Farriers and farriery and about education, and about other Companies, and about….. well, it was all such a whirl, and no sooner had the Master been given a glass of champagne and been introduced to a man referred to as ‘the Drinking Judge’ (who when offered champagne, rejected it in favour of water in any case), than he was whisked off to lunch where not a drop of anything other than water was on offer…. And after the world’s quickest lunch, he found himself in Court 13 hearing intimate details of the post mortem examination report into stab wound on a murder victim, and listening as the transcript of a police interview was read to the jury. C-G’s main observation was that the judge, Her Ladyship, looked rather young, and might well be offended by much of what she had to hear, and was she blushing? But when he looked at the jurors, he thought most of them must be on half-term holiday from school, but C-G admits his eyes are not as bright as once they were. C-G reflected that perhaps the matter of the afternoon, in that Court at least, might have disturbed the last resting place of the steak and kidney pudding he might have desired over the Cutlet of Cornish Cod he received, so perhaps justice had been done after all.
C-G is called to appear at Mansion House
Thursday 3rd November 2022
Another day, another collar. C-G can always tell the likely commitments of his Master by whether or not a new razor blade is employed, and by the time it takes the Master to tie his tie. Today it was another new blade (C-G thought ‘I must buy shares in the razor blade manufacturer’), and several attempts to knot the tie at the desired height. “The Master does employ some very odd language at times” thought C-G. But time at least was on the Master’s side today, and a leisurely arrival time of 11.45 at Mansion House seemed distinctly achievable. Until the window cleaners arrived (were they really unannounced?), and the telephone rang three times, and until he had to send urgent emails to people in reply, and soon time had run out and the Master was UP AGAINST IT! AGAIN.
Did TFL assist by laying on the right train? Such suspense. Yes. The trains ran well, and through security, C-G and the Master were in Mansion House and being offered coffee and before he had put cup to lip, their attention was called and the Lord Mayor entered the room. No coffee for him, and no red robe either. Not even a hint of a gold chain. A lounge suit and to business discussing his year, and thanking the Liveries for kindness and support and asking for ideas on Sustainability, Philanthropy and Inclusivity. C-G almost blurted out ‘Yes. I’m in favour of them all’, but the Master anticipated his enthusiasm and had him firmly in his grip. Great ideas and Great suggestions came from the very new Master of a Great Twelve Company. Much as C-G expected. Masters of Companies with Halls had much to add. Modern Liveries had their take on things, and Liveries with little present connection to any recognisable trade felt they could do more in one way if not in all three. C-G looked at the Blacksmiths and the Saddlers, and they formed a corral together, particularly when comparing notes subsequently. What was notable was the speed with which many Masters and some Prime Wardens shot out of the room as soon as (or in some cases before) the LM had departed. There were lunches to attend after all for them, but on this occasion, not for C-G or even for his Master, and they went home by another route.
Clench Groover visits the Saddlers
Bow Bells were chiming as C-G made his way up Cheapside. Chiming actually was not an adequate description. They were particularly melodious, and C-G thought there were distinct attractions to being born a Cockney. So too, it seemed did various passers-by. Some stopped to make recordings; others held phones up so that others might hear them too. In fact, his Master rang his brother-in-law, a keen bell-ringer in Somerset, who just happened to be out at a bell-ringing practice, and let him hear how it should be done. This amused the Master’s brother-in-law just a little.
A moment’s delay hardly mattered. The Master had found St Paul’s station closed, so had been taken on to Bank, and so his timings had been shot anyway. But his objective was nearby, and soon, C-G found himself in familiar territory and looking forward to dinner as a guest of the Saddlers. C-G’s Master was one of many guests; there were other Masters, chiefly of equestrian companies, and the chief executives of so many equine and leather-related charities, and then there were the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment whose Commanding Officer was in Mess Kit, and whose Master Saddler was in black tie, and the Commanding Officer of The King’s Troop, whose presence in Mess Kit reassured the boss of the Household Cavalry considerably, and made the Master Saddler of the Household Cavalry hope he had read his orders thoroughly. And then there were other friendly faces among the crowds; the Immediate Past Immediate Past Master of the Farriers appeared as if from nowhere, giving rise to some happy conversation and gossip between PIPM and M and their Clerk and the host of PIPM who was a PM himself, but of the Saddler variety, so was probably not a PM at all, but rather a PPW. Is all that quite clear? ‘Oh do keep up’ says C-G. The Saddlers have taken to calling their Master a Prime Warden since the Princess Royal was Master and they asked her to become a perpetual Master, so they called her the Master and their present Master just Prime Warden. ‘Oh what the heck?’ asks C-G. ‘All these initials are v. boring, and I am v. confused.’
Conversation at Dinner was easier. C-G had to keep quiet while the Master chatted to the left and to the right and even across the table, and he was clearly having a really good time. And the really good time was aided by really good wine, and fine food, and good service, and a very good speech from the principal guest who the Master later confided to C-G he had heard speak similarly before. And not all that long before either. Anyway. Unlike C-G’s Master, the Saddlers’ PW was coming to the end of her period in office, and so the tone was valedictory and reflective, and it seemed that in no time at all, the hands of the clock had reached the witching hour of ten and we all found ourselves enjoying a stirrup cup, and in some cases, more than one. C-G nudged his Master, and the Master took the point, and having said his farewells and thanks, found his coat and hat and umbrella, and was into the night and battling the revellers at Bank station on his way home. The City of today is as much revelry as finance, at least it is at 11pm, and there is no sight of a bowler hat, nor of a suit, and in fact some of the lady revellers seem to be wearing very little at all, thought C-G, and this is November. What a place. C-G mused on the days of the Weimar Republic as the train took him north toward his place of repose on the hall table while his Master attended to the mail he had received from the Clerk. Another day; another letter to write…….
And soon afterwards, to the Pattenmakers
10 Nov 22
To be honest, C-G, if asked, couldn’t really say what a ‘Pattenmaker’ was. He thought something to do with the wooden moulds used in foundries. But when he peered at the Master’s briefing paper, he was surprised to read words like ‘tassemakers’ and ‘pouchemakers’ and galochemakers’. The first left him none the wiser, but he felt he knew what a pouche, or more likely a pouch was. In fact, he had his own pouch in which the Master carried him around. And very comfortable it was. Also very smart, with the Company’s arms on the front. And he remembered his forebears on both the Clench side and on the Groover side of his family speaking of things called galoshes when it was particularly wet or snowy. Sort of outer shoe in rubberised material to keep the shoe itself dry. How do these fit in?
The Master sighed. All of these are to do with the preservation of elaborate footwear. A Patten is a wooden undershoe designed to keep the wearer up out of the mire of the City streets before lavatories were invented. Rather necessary. And the pattenmakers incorporated other guilds each named before. So that is what we are doing today. Off to lunch with the makers of wooden undershoes. ‘Not likely to be a very busy lunch then!’ mused C-G, feeling rather knowledgeable suddenly.. The Master told him to keep his thoughts to himself. He was preoccupied by news of another rail strike and no underground trains. Possibly no lunch at all in the worst case.
But the Master persevered, and using several buses and a great deal of imagination and some shoe leather, the Master arrived at Armourers’ Hall within spitting distance of the appointed time.
And there was the Clerk, loyal as ever, and standing inside the doorway waiting patiently for his arrival. ‘Have you collected your menu Master?’ and we were off upstairs and being introduced to a female maker of undershoes and her Wardens. At lunch, the Master had fun. He sat between a retired lawyer he had known twenty years ago, and the Private Secretary to a member of the Royal Family. C-G was positively twitching to get a word in with such a personage, but the Master wisely kept him out of sight and out of hearing. C-G noted that the Makers of Undershoes don’t much go in for speechification. The Master (f) spoke for four minutes and sat down. C-G thought that the grace from the Clerk was longer than the speech, and there was some truth in it. The grace too was rather witty, and C-G was impressed.
Sadly after lunch, many had to depart quickly to negotiate the travel difficulties, but C-G’s Master had fallen among thieves, or at least a couple of other friendly Masters, and C-G was consigned to the wine bar for a while before one bus then another, and another and another, then a bit of a walk before home. The Master had quite forgot that he was due to go out with his Lady that night to the cinema, and although he liked Bill Nighy, frankly, the Master snoozed through most of the film, and his Lady was unsympathetic. She hadn’t braved the rail strike or the Makers of Undershoes, after all.
C-G stored his strength. He anticipated a busy day following, but he was not able to share any of it with his readers, ‘cos it was all to do with the forthcoming departure of the Clerk and the commencement of her successor’s duties….. very interesting indeed, but not for general consumption, C-G feared. Anyhow, C-G KNEW that he would have lots to report once he had walked the 2.7 miles of the LORD MAYOR’S SHOW on Saturday. Would it be dry? Would it be cold? Time alone would tell.
Clench-Groover precedes the Lord Mayor and most of the entire procession to be honest..
12th November 2022
Strange and purposeful sounds from the bedroom above caused Mr Clench-Groover to stir from his slumbers at what he considered an unreasonably early hour on a Saturday. All he heard warned C-G that a busy and important day had dawned. The Master came downstairs dressed formally, and C-G watched as he hurried himself to leave the house, certain that he had everything he might possibly require. C-G watched as a special bag was placed carefully beside him. What did it contain? A peek inside revealed what looked awfully like a bottle of port, and a leather case containing six silver tumblers. C-G knew the Master had his priorities right, and began to look forward to the day ahead. But still he didn’t know what was ahead. He noted a stiff collar and a morning coat, with livery tie, and he observed that the Master had brought down that bag which he knew from past experience, contained his gown. And that strange black briefcase, rumoured to contain objects of great worth, and clearly of great importance to the Master, as C-G was among the very few who thought he knew where the case was usually stored, and that was a secret.
Leaving the underground, the Master carried C-G along with much else, into Ironmongers’ Hall, where welcome coffee and a bacon roll were pressed into his hand by a fellow Farrier Liveryman, and soon the Master was joined by his loyal Clerk and another Liveryman. A quick briefing and soon they were in sunlight outside, wondering quite why a group of Livery Masters and their colleagues were so disorganised. But they were having fun, and in the sunshine, moods were relaxed and buoyant, and conversation flowed. Chaps and chapesses mingled; photos were being taken, and legs were being pulled, left right and centre. And then the bass drum heralded the quick march and they were off. C-G liked being at the head of the procession – the Senior Liveries were prominent at number two in the procession, but it meant that they were close to the police horses, who having been fed liberally earlier, now were placing series of fresh obstacles in the way of the Welsh Guards band and of the Livery Masters. Some expressed displeasure at the impact on shoes and boots, but for a Farrier, this was no problem; indeed it was routine.
Crowds cheered, children blew whistles and clapped and shouted; the occasional dog barked, bells rang, even police smiled, and C-G urged his Master on to keep up with the Band and set the pace for others. A pair of camels – yes camels, waited to join the procession, and C-G looked around hoping to catch sight of a modern day version of ‘Estridge’s Ostrich’, a carved bird with huge ring in his beak he had noted earlier on the stair in Ironmongers’ Hall, but beyond a few swans and a pig or two, nothing seemed remotely similar. Estridge’s ostrich had been carved for a Lord Mayor’s Show in the 17th century, and it was pretty grotesque in truth. A fly-past by Apache helicopters made C-G jump, but he regained his composure and soon they were out of Cheapside into New Change, and going past St Paul’s Cathedral. Great cheers came from the crowd here, and C-G recognised fellow Liverymen on the side of the path. Down Ludgate Hill where the Archdeacon of London gave a cheer and a friendly greeting, remembering C-G very well from the Livery Dinner a month back, and then into Fleet Street where the hill began to make itself felt, but before it became a serious thing, the Senior Liveries were being directed off to the right and asked to stop at the new premises and hall of the Carmen near the Royal Courts of Justice. While Masters and walkers of weak constitution hastened inside for wine and sandwiches, for which C-G was absolutely ready, his Master stood on the kerb and watched the procession make its way past. C-G became embarrassed when the Master offered glasses of port to his fellow Liverymen, and hugely embarrassed when several ladies left the procession to help the Master drink his port, but he quickly recognised these chiefly uniformed beauties as members of the FANY, so C-G knew the Master was only being fraternal, or was it paternal?
No lunch and off again to take position in Temple Place, past Past Master John Peacock atop his carriage, and waiting for the band to regain its puff, and as soon as the ink was dry on the writs signed by the Lord Mayor in the Court, we were all off again, and heading back toward Blackfriars and on up Queen Victoria Street and in no time and in bright sunshine, they were at Mansion House, and the Master had to leave the procession to form part of a Guard of Honour awaiting the Lord Mayor. This took ages, but C-G and the Master watched all the floats go past, and he clapped as the armed forces marched past, and he cheered the children and then the Aldermen were dismounting from carriages, and a flash of scarlet, and the Lord Mayor had appeared and the old Pikemen and Musketeers levelled their pikes and presented their muskets, and the drums beat and the Captain of the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers said some very strange words, and they too were off for refreshment, and C-G found himself now with the Master’s Lady, confronting a couple of sausages on a mound of mashed potato and some treacle pudding, and half a glass of vino, and they were off once more. Where the Master and his Lady went is for history to relate, because the day’s work was done, but C-G remembered rather more than half a glass of vino and some more girly conversation and excitement, and…. Oh; I don’t know what, but C-G slept soundly in the train home, hoping tomorrow would be a quiet day.
Back to St Paul’s Cathedral for a Remembrance Service and then to Mansion House, and from there to Guildhall
Sunday 13th November 2022
Memories of the previous day assailed C-G. Bad memories.
An excess of activity in the bedroom above his head told C-G that THINGS WERE AFOOT AGAIN. And it wasn’t just the Master this time. His Lady too. Both of them came down dressed to the nines, and the Master was carrying his gown and badge, so C-G knew he was destined to spend more time in the City. But this was a serious event; quite unlike the frivolities of yesterday. This was the City and the Masters honouring the war dead in the Cathedral before processing down Cheapside (no crowds to speak of now) and to the Royal Exchange where the Lord Mayor and other grand people placed wreaths on the City War Memorial in front of a huge crowd and loads of armed police, before C-G found that he was back in front of Mansion House as the parade marched past. Was that all? No, C-G was pleased to hear the Master tell his Lady that they had been booked for lunch in Guildhall, and that she could expect more than a brace of bangers today. And he was right. Up in the Aldermens’ Dining Room, there was champagne and salmon, and roast beef – very good roast beef according to the Master, with roast potatoes and a carrot and a Yorkshire pudding and something sweet that C-G cannot now recall (he’s not too fond of sweet things as it happens), and a splash or two of wine, and an eyeglass of port for the Loyal Toast, and some very animated conversation with a new clutch of people, and then they were off once more towards Moorgate station where the Master’s Lady assured the Master that she was NOT asleep in the train, but C-G knew better. And C-G resumed his place of repose on the hall table on his comfortable oak rest, and the evening passed seemingly uneventfully, apart from his Master tap tapping at his computer Keyboard “whatever is that chap up to now?” he thought. “Is he writing a diary or something? Damned fool. Can’t he sleep?”
Clench-Groover resumes his travels, with a purpose, (or more accurately, several purposes)
23 November 2022
With the frenetic events of the Lord Mayor’s Show and Remembrance weekend behind him, C-G felt he merited a rest. And although the Master continued his hectic pace of activities with a meeting of the Master & Wardens’ Committee, some interviews and an Admission to the Freedom, followed by a reception, and other Company work and correspondence, and attending the Freedom ceremonies for the wives of two Past Masters, a rest was exactly what C-G had. A long rest. But after a while, C-G’s slumbers were disturbed by a call to celebrate a virgin. ‘What?’ you may ask. Yes, to celebrate a virgin. They merit celebration, after all. This virgin was also a saint. Saint Cecilia, and the goodly Help Musicians UK had arranged a service in Westminster Abbey to which C-G and his Master were invited. In fact, not just them, but the Clerk, the Upper Warden, a Past Master and their spouses all turned up, and anyone else could have done, and perhaps might consider doing in future years. This was a general invitation to all members of all Liveries, but C-G was special; he was invited to robe and PROCESS. The robing bit took place in the Lady Chapel directly behind the High Altar and behind the chapel of St Edward the Confessor, and among the banners and coats of arms of the Knights of the Bath. C-G felt very, very special and somewhat fortunate again. The processing bit took ages to organise, but when all was settled, he followed his leader down the South aisle and to the Great West Door, and back up the nave, through the choir and into a very special seat under the Lantern in the North Transept, perilously close to the pulpit. No chance to nod off there. An organ voluntary; a hymn; a greeting from the Dean, a couple of jolly anthems, a colourful musician chappie speaking, then a rather wonderful clarinet solo and some readings, then to his surprise, the pulpit was occupied by an old friend of C-G. A chap who had been a local priest, and now was the Precentor at Exeter, and he nodded in a very friendly manner from the pulpit when he saw C-G in the congregation miles below him. C-G considered the Exeter chap gave a very good sermon indeed. A sermon on the benefits of music and on the social impacts of music, and more than once, C-G wanted to shout ‘Hear, hear’, but self-restraint prevailed. And after a few prayers and some more hymnody, it was all over, and C-G processed back to prepare himself for luncheon. He noted that the weather had changed. The rain of the morning soaking the Scottish protestors outside the Supreme Court had given way to sunshine after their Lordships had pronounced a further Referendum on Scottish devolution illegal, and C-G was fascinated by the wonderful stained glass. But there was no time to dwell on the glass or anything, because the Clerk was hungry and had an altogether different type of glass in mind, and the Master had to rush to lose his gown and chain and meet the others and fairly belt to the restaurant, where it seems a good time was had by all.
But no time for relaxation there either. Master and Clerk were off with C-G to Victoria to go to Mansion House to be spoken at by the new Lord Mayor. This was all very jolly, and the reward was a glass of something that seemed to sparkle. C-G reminded the Master and the Clerk for that matter, that in the early evening they had to go to the FANY Reception.
As time was in hand, they found a coffee shop and settled down for a natter – C-G wondered what it was they always had to talk about, but no matter. Things had to be arranged. What these things were C-G never quite established, and anyway, the two of them were off to Chancery Lane and into the throes of a warm welcome from the FANY who seemed quite set on proffering squillions of delicious canapes and endless glasses of wine, and a speech came and went, and the Master was busy speaking to everyone, and friends from all sorts of things were there and it was all a whirl and C-G wondered whether he was up to it all after so long a break. Was he out of form? Had he lost his stamina? His zest for life? Well the answer is, he certainly felt he had lost his zest for life when the underground was not working and he had to find his way back to the heights of Norf Lunnun by a series of omnibuses. The Master’s Lady was sound asleep until C-G returned to his somnolent posture on the hall table to prepare for the next day’s fun and games….
C-G joins the Royal Army Veterinary Corps at Camberley
24 November 2022
Despite his double-barrelled name, C-G has no military claims whatsoever. So it was with relief after initial apprehension that he accompanied his Master by car to the former Staff College at Camberley. The Master was all dressed up again, and C-G knew he had to be on best behaviour, or the Master would make him drive home afterwards. By the time they reached Sandhurst, the rain had stopped, and the Master was able to navigate his way into Robertson House and was soon speaking to a number of Veterinary officers whom he recalled from their time at either ‘The Troop’ or ‘The Cav’. The Master felt it unlikely that they employed such familiar terms while serving at either place. However he was the guest, and his host Colonel Mark Morrison, a long time ago at ‘The Cav’, made him most welcome. The dinner was at a single long table, and when a signal was given, many of the officers rose and made their ways swiftly four places to the right, so conversation was limited, but diverse. The Master noted the presence of a gallant Past Master and his Lady among the guests, as well as the President of the Royal Veterinary Society, and others he recognised as candidates for the Company, or current members, so he was quite in his element, even if a drop of drink did not pass his lips that evening. There were said to be no speeches, but C-G distinctly heard two speeches during dinner, not that it mattered, and the Corps stood to attention when their Quick March was played. Afterwards, C-G was relieved that the Master headed for the driving seat, allowing C-G to reflect on another very jolly evening and some excellent conversation, and the certain prospect of a clear head the following morning.
C-G re-joins ‘The Troop’ in unusual circumstances and in a very unusual location
25 November 2022
Part of the reason for abstinence the previous evening had been the Master’s need to make a speech on Heritage. This speech had been postponed by Covid, and then by the death of The Queen, so it had been prepared and rehearsed, so C-G had nothing to worry about, and he allowed the Master to go and deliver it all by himself. But soon after the Master returned, C-G noted tell-tale activity on the floor above the hall table, and imagined he was about to have an evening engagement. True enough, The Master pocketed C-G and they found an underground train, and were soon in the West End – “strange for a Farriers’ event” thought the knowledgeable Clench-Groover. Not only in the West End, but almost in Soho, he thought. Hmmm. Dodgy. Actually, it was probably the south end of Fitzrovia if truth be told, but C-G was on guard anyway. Into a picture gallery they went; the Master, his Lady, and C-G, and there they looked at loads of oil paintings by Charlie someone who had been Painter in Residence during the Platinum Jubilee. In residence, it seemed at The Royal Mews and also at both The Troop and The Cav, if you recall.
And there were some very jolly pictures at some fine prices, including a very moving painting of the Lying-in-State, and some delicious canapes and a bit of fizz and C-G thought he was becoming very knowledgeable about fine art and The King’s Troop, and the army in general and much else besides. The Master chatted to the chaps about to be become Masters of the Loriners and the Wheelwrights and that was very jolly too, and he spoke to some of the people who had been at dinner at Camberley the previous evening, and it was all great fun, but the Master had other things in mind, you could say other fish to fry, and after ninety minutes or so, they were off to pursue other things which have no place in the memoirs of C-G whatsoever, and so they will remain a secret.
Mr Clench-Grover prepares for Christmas in the year of Our Lord 2022
To be honest, Clench-Groover had been keeping a low profile of late. His head had been FIRMLY DOWN. Not because of any excess of consumption (however, there had been no deficiency either), but because the mood in his Master’s household had been just a little FRAUGHT. Some readers may find this unlikely. But true it was. Simply, at every spare moment, the Master had been utterly occupied writing Christmas cards. No conversation, no television; newspapers left unread; even ‘The Oldie’ – a recent addition to the mandatory reading list was left discarded. Postal delays had helped. At least ‘The Spectator’ had not arrived regularly on Friday mornings waking C-G from his slumbers in the hall, and diverting the Master’s attention. But those Christmas cards predominated everything. Occasionally a large bunch of them, sealed and stamped and bound with rubber bands would be slammed on the hall table, jolting C-G awake. Then at the first opportunity, they would be taken to the sorting office for despatch. C-G knew then to await a repeat of the process. And this went on for ten days. C-G couldn’t believe it either! Finally, he was almost relieved when the heard the Master say ‘and that’s the end of them; the last blooming lot.’ or similar words.
And then the Master disappeared for a couple of days into the depths of his office, and his wife was heard to enquire ‘What can be so important?’ and C-G, being a very well informed Clench Groover, instinctively knew that a meeting of The Court of the Worshipful Company was imminent and that the Master was busy reading hundreds upon hundreds of COURT PAPERS and annotating them, and making phone calls to people of whom he had never heard for opinions he didn’t want to hear and so on and so on.
Until one night, quite late the Master gripped C-G and thrust him into the little black velvet bag, and placed him, carefully it must be said, into a brief case, where he found himself surrounded by laptop and papers and pens and pencils and power cables and was that a hip flask? No, not possible; only a spectacle case. Very early the following morning, C-G and his friends in the brief case braved the elements and headed for the underground station. To be fair, where C-G found himself living, the underground was a total misnomer. Trains ran along the surface, and until TFL sold off a couple of car parks, suddenly allowing masses of concrete to appear, it all used to look very rural. But there was no time for regret; a train pulled in and they were off City-wards once more. C-G had begun to understand that if a Bank train arrived and they took it, the range of possible Halls was limited, and if the Master caught a Charing Cross train, then a change onto the District Line would take them to a totally different range of halls. Today it seemed to be the latter. That was until they reached Tottenham Court Road, where the Master leapt up and taking all his impedimenta, hurried through tunnels onto the Central Line platform, and so to St Paul’s where he struggled up escalators and stairs into the light of Cheapside and soon into Gutter Lane, where he stopped at Saddlers’ Hall.
There was much changing of clothes; hat and outer garments discarded, a robe was added, then a chain of office, and badge, and so upstairs, where after a quick cup of coffee, our narrative must pause, for we all know that Court meetings are STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL…….
And a number of hours later, as the doors of the Court Room opened, out came C-G with the Master and the Clerk and then everybody else, and guests started to arrive and it was noisy, and C-G asked to go somewhere quiet, so the Master took him to his place at the head of tables that seemed to stretch like the new runway at Heathrow, ever into the distance, and there the Master left C-G to keep the waiter entertained as they finished preparations for what promised to be a very jolly lunch indeed, judging by the number of glasses alone. During lunch, C-G quite lost his fear of dentists, for sitting beside the Master was a charming RN dentist who when introduced to C-G, said she wanted one just like him! Clench-Groover quickly replied that there was no-one else in the world quite like him, and he was probably correct. There was a touching bit of speaking about the retiring Clerk, and how hard she had worked for the Company for twenty-five years, and then a few presentations, and the guest speaker was a figure of great seniority and dread. The City Marshal was a personage C-G had only seen previously from a great distance. He had seen him at the Lord Mayor’s Show on horseback, and at the Royal Exchange on foot, and at Common Hall on foot and on television at the reading of the Proclamation on foot, but here he was sitting next to him, and his authority and power in the City of London made C-G sit very still and unaccustomedly quiet throughout lunch. And when the City Marshal had finished speaking, and the toast had been drunk, and the main personages had processed out of the Hall, C-G felt quite drained, having been so close to one so great, and he was glad to be put back in his velvet bag and deposited in the cloakroom where he could wait for the Master to recover him, and when ready, go home.
The Feast of the Boar’s Head
Wednesday 7th December 2022
The flash of a wing collar and a tail coat beneath a very heavy topcoat told Clench-Groover that they were in for some fun tonight. And so they were, for the magnificent copperplate on the invitation referred to the Feast of the Boar’s Head, and Cutlers’ Hall was the destination, and the Cutlers themselves the hosts. Champagne was no sooner in hand than a trumpet call summoned attention for the arrival of no less a personage than The Right Honourable The Lord Mayor of London, the Lady Mayoress and a Sheriff in attendance. C-G was dazzled by it all – the jewellery, the badges, the flowers, and another trumpet call C-G which recognised as the Officers’ Call to Dinner. Urging his Master to climb the stairs, C-G stared at a model of what looked like a latter day knight in armour on a landing. Perhaps C-G’s stare was too pronounced, for he nearly jumped out of his skin when the armoured knight winked at him! His Master reassured him, telling C-G that it was a Trooper of the Blues and Royals forming part of a Carpet Guard, and not a model, but be more careful in future. Into the Hall and standing waiting for the Lord Mayor and Master Cutler, C-G permitted his eye to rove a little, and he looked up straight into the eyes of an elephant. Not only one elephant, but seeming herds of them, high in the ceiling with their bottoms apparently in the clouds. All C-G could see was their trunks, their eyes and their tusks, but if they were there, the rest of them couldn’t be far away, he thought. More trumpeting, not of elephants, but of soldiers, and the Lord Mayor and Master Cutler entered in great style accompanied by half of London it seemed. When seated, wines of exceptional quality were poured and glasses refreshed liberally. Food was of the highest quality, and C-G noted the arrival of some songsters attired in red cassocks, and how he enjoyed their songs! And while a song was sung about the Boar’s Head, which C-G vaguely remembered from childhood, in came two huge chefs straining carrying a wooden platform on which was masses of greenery surrounding the head of a boar. Ignoring his Master’s advice, C-G stared at the boar, but there was no wink this time, nor was the boar’s bottom underneath the platform, for two other soldiers followed, one carrying the largest knife in the world and the other carrying the world’s largest fork, and with a few olde words, the knife sliced through the cheek of the unfortunate boar, who turned not a hair, and the slice of cheek was presented to the Master who pronounced himself most satisfied, and in thanking the chef, presented him with an orange in a silver goblet for his pains. C-G felt pain. C-G, despite his constitution, understood pain, and he felt and understood that the boar must have too. But there was no reward for his pains, and ere long, all in the Hall were merrily tucking into delicious slices of boar, which C-G presumed, must have come from those bits of behind left behind.
And so it went on. One retired judge welcomed a serving judge. The Lord Mayor confessed to vegetarian sympathies; the serving judge claimed friendship with the Master Cutler from school days, and told the Master Cutler how let down he had felt not to have been asked to be his Best Man. But no matter; the serving judge had recovered the speech he had drafted all those years ago when they shared that flat, presuming he would naturally have been asked to be Best Man, and the serving judge selected some very choice elements from it, much to the enhancement of the redness of the cheeks of the Master Cutler. How we all laughed, and how we all reached for our glasses and for our napkins, and how the night went on, and how many stayed for stirrup cups and how many felt VERY TIRED the following morning. C-G when he woke, peered into the mirror above the table, and thought he looked very grey, so went back to sleep. UNTIL….
A Luncheon for Masters and Clerks given by the Coachmakers at Watermen’s Hall
Thursday 8th December 2022
C-G now understood fully what the Master meant when he mentioned ‘the morning after the night before’. In fact C-G was amazed that his Master was up so bright and early. Well, early anyway. But the Master had APPOINTMENTS in the CITY prior to lunch and so C-G had to steel himself (easy really when you understand his conformation) to leave for yet another engagement. This particular engagement was less frenetic it appeared. But there were simply dozens of Masters and their Clerks present, for our hosts had settled on the very jolly scheme to invite all their other Livery guests at one go, and deal with them all there and then. Or so it appeared. And so a really enjoyable reunion of Masters and Prime Wardens and a Bailiff and various other lesser mortals drank someone else’s champagne and wines, and the talk was of other dinners last night in other Halls, and plans for Christmas, and the blasted rail workers and their strikes and abandoned carol services and aborted lunches, and the mood was jolly as usual. But C-G did not let on at all about his experiences. Frankly he was still pretty tired by life high on the hog!
And so on….
C-G was allowed some rest while his Master attended committee meetings and interviews and met the Clerk and oh so much else. ‘Does the Livery world ever slow down?’ C-G wondered.
He was soon to receive an answer to that question. Meanwhile, he slumbered on, probably dreaming of more boar.
C-G’s introduction to Salisbury Plain
Saturday 10th December 2022
It was unusual for Clench-Groover’s repose to be disturbed on a Saturday, but today was different. Not just a Saturday, but at tea time too. C-G found himself being thrust into the pocket of a coat, which was thrown over the rear seat of a car, and soon he was off, the Master at the wheel. C-G noted various landmarks and quickly realised they were heading South-West, but their journey on the M3 went beyond familiar Camberley, and C-G began to fear that if this continued, they must end up in the sea. But at a point, the car veered towards The South West, until another turning had them heading South toward Salisbury. And around the ring road and into the Town Centre, and through the gate into the Cathedral grounds coming to rest in The Close. Here the coat was grabbed, and quickly put on, and off they all set for the Cathedral itself. Not at all like podgy old St Paul’s with which C-G was most familiar, but long and elegant and oh so tall, this one. But when inside, frightfully cold, and C-G was grateful for the warmth of that old coat. His eyes adjusted to the dark, and he saw choristers in a curious tone of peacock green; boy choristers, and…’could it be possible?’ girl choristers as well. And musicians who he heard were from the City of London Symphonia, but C-G failed to recognise anyone among their number, so C-G had his doubts about that. The Dean, a tall cleric, as befits a tall cathedral, said a prayer, and the music commenced – a sharp overture thing, then the singers took it in turns to show their abilities – first a baritone, then a bass, next a counter tenor and finally a magnificent soprano; oh yes, C-G knew his choral stuff. And then the chorus started their alleluiaing, and C-G stole a peek at the Master’s programme to confirm it was Handel’s Messiah they were watching. Watching? Or hearing? Or both? Why were they there? To witness the last performance by the Farriers’ Chorister, young Rory Law, whose voice was about to break, and so he was going to be kicked upstairs, which meant a change of school and so on. The Master was terribly nice to Rory who was wearing a discreet and somewhat sombre cloak over his less than discreet peacock cassock, and C-G thought he saw the Master give Rory a small gift before photos were taken. Rory’s parents were keen to get him back into the Choir School – they said he had been rehearsing since 3pm, and C-G agreed when they said it had been a long day! So soon it was back to an icy car, and the slowest of journeys back up to and across Salisbury Plain to Andover and on to the M3, but none of these places manifested themselves because the fog reduced visibility to twenty yards in places, and it was after 1.30 am when C-G snuggled up on his comfortable stand on the hall table to reflect on what ‘a long day’ really means.
The Farriers’ Carol Service (more church)
13th December 2022
“Pah! Rail strikes!” C-G had little time for strikes or for strikers for that matter. A rail strike had reduced attendance at St Michael Paternoster Royal to very small numbers indeed. C-G thought that the number on parade was about platoon-strength, certainly no more than that. Throughout the day, the Master’s phone had rung with more apologies: “Oh I can probably get there, but I can’t be certain of getting home afterwards.” And C-G knew the Master was not the sort to offer a bed to all and sundry. Anyhow a single bed would have been very uncomfortable indeed, demand seeming in all likelihood to outstrip supply by a considerable margin, and the well-informed C-G quickly appreciated the impact that would have on inflation.
“In the bleak midwinter” was much on C-G’s mind as he sat shivering in the cold church waiting for things to commence. C-G overheard someone, perhaps it was a Liveryman, saying he had been in warmer mortuaries than that church that night, but he didn’t know whether to take that person’s comment seriously or not. The service started with a small procession, in truth a very small procession, and the Wardens and the Master took their seats and soon all were belting out what C-G learnt was an Advent hymn: ‘Hills of the North rejoice!’ C-G was particularly taken by the line: ‘City of God, the bound are free; we come to live and reign in Thee.’ Having attended more than a few Citizenship ceremonies of late, C-G quickly saw the particular significance of those words in that postcode and in that audience of people, almost without exception who having been bound, now found themselves free of the Company and free of the City too. He enjoyed a couple of other carols, but his attention was taken by the prospect of ‘Brightest and best of the sons of the morning’ which he wished had read ‘suns’ not ‘sons’, but that was as it was. He sang on: ‘Cold on his cradle the dew drops are shining…’, and C-G thought there was little prospect of a dew drop in that church that night – icicles most likely. But the words of the Preacher warmed his heart, and he found his joke about the Corporal and his love for all things Christmassy very good. It ended with the Corporal telling the Padre what his favourite carol was called, and he replied ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.’ C-G felt he knew all there was to be known about red noses at that moment, and dew drops at the end of them, too, for that matter.
Soon the service was finished, and with unaccustomed speed, the congregation left the vault and made its way into the much warmer hall where delicious food and mulled wine were offered, and spirits rose, and friends chatted and the girls from St Martin in the Fields School who had sung so enthusiastically mingled and ate and drank and ate and drank again until their Headmistress called it a day and lead them back out into the snow and on their journey back to the first line of hill above the southern bank of the Thames where their school has been for a hundred years. C-G was up for a bit of fun, and he noted with pleasure that the Master had packed away his robe and chain, and with a quick bit of admin concluded, all left that church, probably for the last time in the Company’s history, with the Learned Clerk carrying out her final public act on behalf of the Company by extinguishing the candles and lights and locking the door having pulled it firmly shut, and the company went their separate ways in the ice and cold wind, C-G thinking ‘snow had fallen; snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter…..’ but the Master knew of a warm little inn where there was room, and they would be welcome, for a while at least, and so the hours passed and the clock ticked and his Master conversed and C-G snoozed in comfort, and was surprised to find himself safely back on the hall table when he woke. C-G wondered whether that was the last outing with his Master of the year…. time alone will tell, but as things stand, or sit, it rather seemed to be the case. The Master told C-G not to be a fool, but C-G knew in his heart, that the Master’s remaining commitments were business commitments, and to those, C-G was not invited. A long and very seasonal snooze was now in prospect for Mr Clench-Groover.
Clench-Groover travels widely as February gathers pace.
To Saddlers’ Hall (again) for the Saddlery Exhibition
8 February 2023
It was the less familiar hand of the Master’s Lady that packed Clench-Groover into his travel pouch on this occasion, and C-G wondered what was in store. But it soon became apparent that Master and Lady were treading a familiar route towards Gutter Lane and into Saddlers’ Hall, where they joined other ‘Equestrian Masters’ and guests for a viewing of the wonderful annual saddlery and bridlery competition, augmented by the most fascinating displays of associated leatherwork. This featured a wide range of handbags, luggage, footwear, jugs, games, and magnificent displays of work by leather conservationists including some from the Museum of Leather in Northampton. C-G looked admiringly at the work, and at the splendid food and drink offered. He wasn’t going to refer to it, but he recalled the Master saying that today was to be a ‘glass-free day’. This soon proved to be a false alarm, and other than the case when the Master was offered a glass of excellent champagne to help down the generous and noteworthy canapes. The extent of their excellence was not only the opinion of his Master, but the combined opinions of other Masters, each by now thoroughly proficient judges of relative quality. Unsurprisingly it was the Master’s Lady who knew when sufficient was sufficient, and C-G felt he had been drawn away far too soon for his liking, or for his own good.
Back to Chartered Accountants’ Hall to hear the Lord Mayor
13th February 2023
Clench-Groover had not been on the scene when the Master and his Lady had last gone, as Upper Warden, to this modern Hall for a dinner. The Dinner was cut short on the announcement of the death of Her Majesty The Queen, so a fresh event had been convened to allow the Lord Mayor with the Sheriffs to mix with the combined Masters, and to give them the benefit of his plans and thoughts. Most of the proceedings were held under the ‘Chatham House Rule’, so even the normally loquacious C-G feels bound to bridle his tongue, but he considers himself able to report that the Lord Mayor described this as ‘Day 91’ of his Mayoralty, prompting C-G to turn to his day-count, and he was horrified to confide to his Master that more than a third of his Mastership was already behind him. C-G had the temerity to ask the Master what he thought he had achieved in 4 ½ months, and the Master’s tight grip was sufficient to let C-G know that he had gone too far again.
In a fortuitously sunny Guildhall Yard on St Valentine’s Day
14th February 2023
C-G found himself placed in a wheeled suitcase quite early the following morning, and in the company of the Master’s Gown and badge, he was back heading City-wards and into Guildhall, where the Master was able to dress before going out to the sunny Yard, where excellent coffee and pastries were on offer, and where various military and City figures were gathering, chiefly watching the efforts of the Light Cavalry to march in overalls, boots and spurs on the slippery surface.
Coffee finished, C-G was required to take his seat, and there was a fanfare, and the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs attended the arrival of Field Marshal HRH The Duke of Kent KG. To be honest, C-G was unsure what all this was in aid of, pleased though he was to see HRH. In welcoming HRH, the Lord Mayor drew the attention of all present to a rather splendid garden which had been constructed in the corner of Guildhall Yard, of course, by the Gardeners’ Company, as part of the forthcoming Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch fundraiser for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. C-G had opportunity to look at the garden in detail after the Duke left, and noted the twenty-five silver birches, set in a rectangular garden ringed with yew hedges, and with planked pathways at different levels leading to a commemorative bench set among a wide variety of hellebores, cotoneaster, euonymus both gold and silver varieties, cornus alba, and various heathers and low grasses between sages and primulas and narcissi. Strung between the silver birches were colourful butterflies. C-G has to apologise, for his memory fails, and he cannot remember other plants that were included, either by their Latin or for that matter, their vernacular names, but he earnestly hopes this admittedly limited description provides sufficient for the gentle reader to foam an impression of a garden dedicated to the military theme of ‘Loss, Unity and Hope’.
Back in action at a Rather Good Dinner
Cutlers’ Hall Friday 17th February
It must be admitted that on the Master’s return from Guildhall Yard, C-G was left in the suitcase together with all other bits and pieces, and C-G was on the point of getting a bit miffed, when the suitcase was wheeled back to the Underground and via St Paul’s station, to Newgate Street where the remaining light of day revealed that C-G was in Cutlers’ Hall and the Master was in Evening Dress and the Ladies were resplendent in gowns, and all of this was for the annual Court Members’ Dinner.
The Clerk had arranged a thoroughly good evening, with a splendid pianist, and the Master’s guest speaker was an old friend and Freeman of the Company, Vice-Admiral Sir Adrian Johns, who recalled the jolly times he had enjoyed when hosting members of the Farriers while commanding HMS Ocean. C-G thought that the Honorary Treasurer’s toast to the Guests was first rate, and that Admiral’s response was, well, admirable. C-G had little to offer by way of comment on what his Master had said in reply, although the Master’s reference to his plan to plant a Giant Redwood tree in West Ham Park later in March for the Queen’s Green Canopy rather stuck in his memory. Not that the tree itself stuck in his mind, but the Master’s description of the prospects for the tree – growing to almost three hundred feet in height and thirty feet in girth. It was when the Master likened the expansion of the tree to the growth in waistline of the un-named Livery Master that caused some merriment. C-G generously also commented favourably on the Master’s description of an earlier Farrier Master, who had been a great and early driver in Victoria’s days – an ‘automobilist’ and an inventor who patented a brass-bristled lavatory brush. C-G was sure this invention would have revolutionised domestic cleanliness, had the Great War not followed two months after the patent was granted, leaving people with even more urgent matters on their minds. Like so many great dinners, much of the fun was had when away from the table, and the ‘after-bar’ flowed with port and ales until even the patience of the Hall staff became as exhausted as those remaining.
Clench-Groover travels west.
Monday 20th February 2023
C-G knew that farriery is taught at three colleges in England, but was unsure what they teach at Hartpury. So an invitation to join the Saddlers and the Loriners for a visit was too good to refuse, and so he found himself in the Master’s weekend bag to take advantage of the trip beyond Gloucester and into new country beyond the Severn. To be quite clear, Clench-Groover, while very bright, never aspired to university, so finding himself on the campus was somewhat nerve-wracking. But it was a campus unlike most others – no dreaming spires; no quads, no chapels, but a view north and west over the counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire to die for. C-G noted a ‘hunting vedette’ in a tower of the Hartpury building which had been constructed for George Canning in 1780s – who mentioned ‘slavery’? And beyond huge cattle byres and parlours, no less that 236 stables. And an indoor school large enough to land a private aircraft and more besides.
Inevitably much of the talk was to do with saddlery, as the Saddlers are generous sponsors of Hartpury University, but it was of developments and research into saddlery; fitting and posture of able and disabled riders, and the problems caused by over-tight head bands and incorrectly-sized bits seemed the main themes. Much was made of the mechanical horses, the hydrotherapy pools, and the ability to use sensors and video to capture evidence of deficiencies and needs, and some of the data collection and analysis by doctoral students was most impressive. Who can say whether it was down to the enjoyment of Friday night, or because of his relative inexperience, but C-G was unusually quiet this day, but he absorbed much interesting and technical information, which he felt sure would come in very handy, if not at the weekend at Knightsbridge for the Cavalry Pairs competition, most certainly at the forthcoming Shows – the Shire Horse Show in March, Badminton after the Coronation, and Gatcombe in early August among them, and he was grateful. Traffic on the A40 back into London was predictably grim, but it made no difference to the somnolent form of C-G whose gentle snores accompanied the Master’s lady, and helpfully kept the Master awake at the wheel while he formulated his thoughts for the meeting of the Examinations and Education Group on Zoom the following morning.
“….at best, he is an intermittent communicator”
So read an entry in one of young Master Clench Groover’s early school reports, long before he assumed the hyphenated version of his surname.
The accuracy of this comment has been evidenced throughout the young Clench Groover’s teens and subsequently, and now into his (admittedly hyphenated) later years it remains a valid condemnation.
To be fair, Clench-Groover, in his own defence, would say: ‘but there are so many calls on one’s time” or some similar justification, and his duties accompanying his Master are in direct proportion to the demands of the Magisterial office. Few however have heard the Master complain during the first six months of his Mastership.
Enquiring readers will demand to know just what it is that has left C-G so exhausted that he seems incapable of improving the shining hours by stabbing at a keyboard.
Placed under considerable pressure and pushed to answer, C-G assembled the following list in justification:
21 Feb EEG Zoom
26 Feb Cavalry Pairs and prizegiving
1 Mar Denis Oliver lecture RVC
7 Mar Craft Committee
7 Mar M&W Committee meeting followed by reception
9 Mar Farriers Lodge
11 Mar Memorial service FM Sir John Chapple
12 Mar Newark Shire Horse Show lunch with President and present awards
13 Mar Armed Forces Equestrian Dinner Saddlers Hall
14 Mar 600th anniversary of the death of Dick Whittington – church service followed by lectures
16 Mar LKR Freedom of City
21 Mar Tree planting in West Ham Park “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”
21 Mar Chartered Secretaries and Administrators lecture… dull
22 Mar Riverside walk opening plus Clerk
23 Mar funeral of PM John Barsham early start…
23 Mar Lord Mayor’s Banquet Mansion House
24 Mar United Guilds’ Service
27 Mar Corporate Trust and Court meetings Ironmongers Hall
29 Mar Bristol Vets School lecture, and a day in the path labs
30 March Lord Mayor’s Big Curry lunch plus Clerk
31 Mar the half way mark has been passed….
When displayed like that, even the usually defensive C-G had to admit it was poor justification, so the Master prevailed upon him to add a little flesh to the skeletal list, ignoring those events in red where confidentiality prevents wider disclosure:
At the end of February, the Master took his Lady and C-G to Knightsbridge for the second day of the curiously-named ‘Cavalry Pairs competition’. Two days of competitive farriery, the first among the military units HCMR, TKTRHA and the farriers from DATR at Melton Mowbray. The second day attracted farriers from all over the country and indeed abroad. Measure, make and fit a shoe within the hour, working in pairs so that one farrier works on the hind and the other on the fore legs. Shoeing started before 0800, and the forges were fiery until after 1700 hrs, stoked and fuelled by soldiers. Apprentices competed separately at gas forges outside. C-G’s pride was almost satisfied by being asked to play a (very small and unobtrusive) part in the presentation of prizes in the Warrant Officers’ Mess afterwards.
The Livery Committee organised this year’s Denis Oliver Lecture in Camden Town at Royal Veterinary College. A fine lecture theatre and three interesting and varied presentations, during which C-G learned much, not least about carriage driving, and the auction world.
C-G didn’t know what to expect when the Master accepted an invitation to be a guest at a White Table Dinner of the Farriers’ Lodge. He peeked over the Master’s shoulder and read that it was to be held at Wax Chandlers’ Hall, so it seemed likely to be enjoyable. When the Master and his Lady arrived, the Hall seemed to contain only ladies, and C-G was very happy making his way around chatting to them and trying to pick up clues as to what might follow. What followed exceeded even C-G’s optimism: the chaps came down, many still wearing their aprons and regalia, and then C-G was offered a drink. Not one, but several, and the pile of empty gin bottles grew rapidly. Then he was summoned into the temple, and sat to watch a fascinating presentation from a couple of articulate young women representing a college for severely disabled young people, who had been recipients of generosity from the Lodge. Then into dinner, and enjoyable food and wines preceded jolly speeches, C-G saw the Master re-kindle some old friendships, he understood that several Masons had retired from the Livery and maintained their associations through the Lodge. But all too soon, the need to find the underground…. and bed.
It was not that C-G attended the Memorial Service for Field Marshal Sir John Chapple that Saturday at Sandhurst, but he heard the Master referring to the number of Liverymen present, so being something of a Tatler, (as well as a Byestander on this occasion), he reports the Master ran into the following Liverymen there: PM Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, Liveryman Major Gordon Corrigan, Liveryman Colonel Lucy Giles, and Freeman Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns. There may have been others, but C-G’s powers of recall are diminished.
The following morning, it was an early start in the car, up the M1 to Newark in response to a kind invitation to present prizes at the Shire Horse Show following lunch with the President. C-G was made very welcome by the Company’s Awards and Competitions Secretary, the hard working and ubiquitous Betty Peacock. In fact it seemed to C-G at least that the Peacock family pretty much ran the event – the President was conspicuously absent that day. C-G lingered by the Company’s stand, listening to the experiences of those there, chiefly from the Craft Committee, and studying the tools and historical artefacts on display. C-G was in NO DOUBT that the Farriers’ stand was by country miles the finest and most welcoming he encountered that day, and he felt very proud to be associated with it.
The next evening C-G was cramming himself into his dinner jacket ready to be a guest of the Prime Warden of the Saddlers at the Armed Forces Equestrian Charity Dinner in Saddlers Hall. Here he seemed to be surrounded chiefly by cavalrymen, and a few other livery Masters, and the food and wines were splendid, and the bidding on some of the items auctioned was surprising, but about that, least said, soonest mended. C-G has to learn not to try to increase the amount raised by being over-enthusiastic.
And after a night of hedonism, to church, and in particular to St Michael, Paternoster Royal, a church C-G vaguely remembered the Master saying he had seen the last of at Christmas time. But today it was full, and the congregation awaiting the arrival of the Lord Mayor’s representative. A good service followed to give thanks on the 600th anniversary of his death for the generosity of Richard Whittington (‘turn again Dick’). Some rather splendid music too, then followed two fascinating lectures, firstly on the man himself (there were many references to him in wills and in Court and City documents that gave colour to the apocryphal). For example, he made his initial wealth from a single transaction with the King, when he sold a certain type of cloth for £9000. Secondly to the legacies of the man. C-G found this right up his street, because Lord Mayor Whittington, a Mercer, was much concerned by public hygiene, and he had built the main City convenience – or house of easement. Known as the 64-seater, it was built over the Fleet or the Walbrook or some such lesser fludd, and it permitted 64 men on one side, and a similar number of women on the other to relieve themselves into the stench beneath, the tide doing much of what evidently was next most necessary. C-G was sure there was much else of great interest, but he finds that unless he writes his notes immediately these days, his powers of recall too are erased somewhat by the ebb and flow of the tides.
C-G does recall, however, that a blank day followed, when he recharged his batteries, in anticipation of great jollities to follow. For the following morning, Master and his Lady were up bright and early to head to Guildhall to witness the granting of the Freedom of the City by Patrimony to the Master’s daughter, Lavinia. Much feasting and celebration ensued, for this set the stage for the Master’s daughter to be admitted to the Livery forthwith, (of which possibly more later).
It was as well that another blank day intervened before the same couple were back in Guildhall Yard to be driven to West Ham Park where the Company was involved in the planting of a tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy scheme. All the way, C-G was muttering “mighty oaks from little acorns grow” and suchlike, but this was no little acorn. It was a Giant Redwood (sequoiadendron giganteum) sapling, already over twelve feet in height, but said to have the potential to live for 3000 years and to grow over 300 feet high and almost 30 feet in girth. C-G went on-line in his enthusiasm (it must be admired!) and discovered many other interesting facts, but he was proud that both the Company and the Master had made a financial contribution toward this wonderful specimen now in the care of the City of London Corporation. He hoped future generations of Liverymen would visit it to admire and encourage it.
That same night, C-G was at Stationers’ Hall for a stimulating lecture on corporate governance hosted by the Chartered Administrators. C-G wondered why the Master had accepted this invitation.
But the following morning, having met the Clerk in the Office, (aka Farriers’ Hall), C-G accompanied them to the official opening by the Aldermanic Sheriff of the missing bit of the Thames-side path through the City. C-G noted a very fine aspect of The Globe theatre, and some friendly faces, but it was over too soon, and so back to F. Hall, and home to prepare for a VERY EARLY START INDEED.
The Master had arranged to meet Past Master Head off the M25 at Uxbridge almost while it was still dark to make sure of reaching Chichester in time for the 11am funeral of PM John Barsham. As it happened, both M25 and M3 worked reasonably well, and C-G was relieved when the Master offered his friend breakfast in a fine old inn at Chiddingfold. And a fine old breakfast it transpired to be, so thereby fortified, they pressed on south, and paid their respects along with Past Master Greatorex and his wife, and the former Clerk, before turning northwards to allow the Master to be home in time to change into White Tie for the Lord Mayor’s Banquet for Masters and suchlike. And a generous and grand affair it was with a notably good speech from his host. C-G felt that a couple of supporting speeches were less deserving of praise, but he is a stern judge of relative eloquence.
The following morning, C-G was feeling that his energy levels were not at their best, but he made the effort to go with the Master to Farriers’ Hall by 9.30 to robe and generally brace up, before joining a wonderful procession of assorted Liveries from Apothecaries’ Hall to the Cathedral for the United Guilds’ Service. This annual thanksgiving service is a joy and a pleasure, and soon C-G shuffled off his less than vibrant pall, and realising what a privilege he was experiencing, was singing as lustily and enthusiastically as the best of them. His spirits were not the only part of him dampened in the downpour that met their return to Farriers’ Hall, but he was snug in a pocket beneath the Master’s robe, and the fur served its purpose convincingly, and so to lunch…… and a well-earned weekend off.
However that following Monday required action, and it was to Ironmongers’ Hall for the Court meeting followed by lunch. Court confidentiality prevents C-G from describing what went on, but it is of public record that the new Clerk made her Declaration and signed her Oath, and that the Hanson Farrier and the Master’s daughter were both admitted to the Livery of the Company, and the Master seemed happy, and that was sufficient for C-G.
He was not left to his own reveries for long, as the next evening, he was packed in a bag and off to Wiltshire to allow the Master to be at Bristol Veterinary School to lecture to final year equine students from 9am , and a somewhat smelly day in the path labs fiddling around with morbid specimens. The Master was hugely pleased when a student told him what wide-ranging benefits her week as an EVSA student placed with Assistant Guy Reynolds and his vet wife Amy, had brought her. The Master also commented on the sterling work being done by members of the Craft Committee in promoting Farriers and the craft in general, and C-G felt very satisfied and proud before falling fast asleep in the car on the M5 on the way back to London, his dreams only interrupted by the anxiety of knowing that he had to write this summary as soon as time allowed. Which, it would seem, has now happened. And so to April, with the prospect of FURTHER Shows, and quite possibly, FURTHER SHOWERS too.
C-G sends his Easter good wishes to all who follow him. He is flattered by Followers.