The Master’s Diary a Page Turner for 1 week at Least!
Freedom Day did not happen on the 21st June, but livery life did return to the City of London, albeit subject to social distancing rules and Tables of 6. Plaisterers’ Hall had been ‘fired up’ and hosted its first livery dinner that evening. Alas it was not a Plaisterers’ dinner, but a last-minute booking from the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards.
I got to see our Hall looking at its most resplendent on the Friday of that week, as a guest of the Master Educator, Roy Blackwell. The Educators held their Installation Dinner in our Hall on the 25th June and they were profuse with their compliments and appreciation of the venue, the dinner and the way they had been ‘looked after’ Precisely what we wanted to hear!
My first live event as Master was the Lord Mayor’s Service of Reflection & Hope in St Paul’s Cathedral, on the 22nd June. A fitting service to reignite livery life and fellowship. The congregation was drawn from the City’s communities, including the Livery, Court of Aldermen, Court of Common Council, emergency services, volunteers, the military, Corporation staff and other groups, but numbers were limited to less than 500. It was a moving service, remembering and honouring those who had suffered through Covid-19 or had related difficulties. It was also a service of Hope Whilst there remain many challenges for us to face and overcome, the message was to care for each other and the people of our City, in a fresh spirit of Hope. It is my fervent wish that we Plaisterers embrace that fresh spirit of Hope and take that forward into our new Livery year.
The Saddlers’ Company then hosted a Luncheon in their courtyard for Livery Masters and Prime Wardens, who as their Prime Warden, Nicholas Mason put it, ‘had not been out much’. I enjoyed this lunch immensely. I sat with the Master Mariner, Clockmaker, Barber and Insurer and the Prime Warden of the Shipwrights. The conversation, like the wine flowed. This lunch will remain special to me as my first in person social event as Master of our Company.
This extraordinary day did not finish there. I then went on to a Dinner for Masters & Clerks by kind invitation from the Barbers’ Company. I found myself on a fantastic table in the company of 2 Past Master Barbers, the Master Carpenter and the Clerks of the Saddlers and Wax Chandlers; the latter knew Liveryman Sir Henry Beverley, so I was able to pass on his regards to Sir Henry.
At the end of this long day, I was grateful of the use of the Master’s flat in Wood Street!
I was back in town on the Thursday, for 2 more events, Common Hall and the Election of Sheriffs in the Guildhall, followed by lunch with the Wax Chandlers. This year due to Covid-19 restrictions, only one representative from each livery company was allowed in the Guildhall to vote. I voted for us all when I raised my hand in support of the Deputy Master, Alderman Alison Gowman, who was duly elected Sheriff. A proud moment for me and a massive accolade for Alison and the Plaisterers’ Company. What a year she has ahead of her.
Luncheon at the Wax Chandlers was to Celebrate the Election of the Sheriffs and indeed both Sheriff elect visited the Hall during the lunch, thanking everyone for their support. At my table was the Master Elect of the Wax Chandlers, Anthony Bickmore. We got engrossed in a conversation about the Plaisterers’ garden, lack of bees and pollinators reports. True to his word, Anthony visited our garden and is now organising a pollinator’s audit report. A nectar moment.
I hope you are all keeping up with me. I told you my diary was a page turner. Friday evening was the Educators’ Installation Dinner at Plaisterers’ Hall. It was strange to attend a dinner in our Hall with another Master in charge! At least I did not have to sing for my supper and it was a unique experience to be a guest in my own Hall. I also sat next to the Master Mariner, who I had sat with at the Saddlers’ Lunch. I was now beginning to experience the fellowship of the livery family, regaled about by our own Past Masters. I was hosted at the event by the Middle Warden, Mrs Janet Reynolds. She was extremely complimentary about our Hall and all those responsible in making the Installation Dinner such a success. I left the dinner feeling ‘it is so good to be back’
Here endeth my first week of live events as the Master Plaisterer and I was looking forward to live events the following week. But alas it was not to be. Saturday morning as I was coming out of a peaceful sleep, my NHS App ‘pinged’. Red Alert. You have been in contact with someone who has tested positive and you must self-isolate for 10 days. Fellow Plaisterers I was devastated. How unfair was all this I thought? Since April, I had followed a routine of taking a Lateral Flow Test twice a week and all had been negative. I had done 2 tests during this week. A 3rd test that morning was negative too. I immediately went on line and ordered a PCR test kit, which arrived by courier on the Sunday. I followed all the instructions for that test before placing it in a post office priority post box (yes there are such things as I now know) on the Monday. My test result was back within 24 hours, NEGATIVE but I was instructed to continue isolating for the full 10 days.
My self-isolation finished in time for the Court Meeting and Court Dinner on the 6th July, but you will need to read my July Blog to know what happened next.