“April is the cruellest month” – so starts The Waste Land by T S Eliot, written in 1922 after the ravages of the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic. The first section is headed “The Burial of the Dead” and the scene he paints of “ Unreal City, Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,” may have reflected my spirits as lockdown was biting on normality. Each day has brought news of illnesses and sad deaths amongst friends and colleagues. Members of the Plaisterers Livery have regrettably suffered and my heart goes out to those who have been bereaved or are in difficulties through Covid 19 or are otherwise affected. I and your Livery friends are here to help so do please get in touch.
I have missed hosting the events that I had planned for April with a real emphasis on the Museum of London, my charity for the year. On April 7th the dinner was to take the form of a private visit to the Museum of London in London Wall, and to view some special treasures. This was to be followed by a light supper in the Hall with the Director Sharon Ament being interviewed by BBC’s Evan Davis about the future of the Museum. We were to have some Plaisterers’ artefacts on show from the Guildhall Archives to make it a special historical evening. At the end of April I was to lead a visit to the Museum of London’s new site at West Smithfield. Liveryman Lady Jenny Freeman was to attend. She is an expert on Horace Jones, the architect of the original Smithfield site. She would have supplied some interesting views on the Museum’s scheme to replan the site for the new Museum. As you will know plans for May and June are now also cancelled.
Administrative work has continued. The Clerk has set up a Zoom account and what with emails, telephone calls and HouseParty we are all keeping in touch. I instituted a Plaisterers’ Mates ring round. Volunteer livery members agreed to ring some of our older members and companions in order to check up on health and wellbeing. This has elicited some interesting stories and a good reconnection with some of our folk who are not often at the Hall. Our June committee meetings will take place on Zoom and are in preparation. Our new Clerk, Col Garth Manger, starts work to shadow Nigel from May 4th. The Charity Trustees have already been considering how we can contribute financially to those in need and we have distributed some funds already but with a further review in May.
Whilst every day brings news of another dinner that has been postponed, this is not at all surprising and accords with law and good practice. The question on everyone’s lips is when will things begin again and what will that look like? Government and businesses are planning for the return to work and so to must the Livery take all due cognisance of this.
Whilst I have missed many wonderful events, dinners, award ceremonies and church services over the last six weeks, I think it has allowed a breathing space in which to consider what is the essence of how we work as a Livery. Gatherings are, of course, wonderful and sharing fellowship and friendship is something I especially miss, but we need to ensure our fundamentals are there. We can do this by caring for our members and keeping in touch, bolstering our charitable giving ( reviewing if we can each give a bit more now via the Plaisterers’ charity or elsewhere) and considering how best we can support our trade members as their businesses are under stress.
I am happily safe in my Barbican eerie with fantastic views over the City and the opportunity to walk out daily and enjoy the River Thames and sites without any traffic or people. I hope that you can enjoy some pleasures at this time and I look forward to welcoming you back to Plaisterers’ Hall.