Coachlines - May 2020

16.05.20 The Clerk

Clerk’s notes – 20th May 2020

Eight weeks in and the first signs of a much anticipated easing of national restrictions are beginning to emerge. However, are you a little confused or is it just me?

Mark The Clerk

Mark The Clerk

First it was: “we shouldn’t go into lockdown, it will destroy the economy”. Then it was “why didn’t we go into lockdown earlier and save more lives?” Soon after that it was: “we must have a road map to exit lockdown, people want to know when it will end and when they can get back to work”. Now it is: “workers must not be allowed to return to work until their safety can be guaranteed”. Perhaps it is just me but clarity of message at this time we seem to have not.

With this in mind I noticed that on Thursday night Talking Pictures TV was showing the 1976 film starring David Bowie called The Man Who Fell to Earth. It’s about an alien who must pose as a human to save his dying planet but a woman and the greed of other men create complications. I couldn’t help thinking that if a similar alien fell to earth right now he/she/it would be as equally confused as the Bowie character whose time of arrival coincided with orange tank tops and professional footballers who wore unfeasibly tight shorts and bouffant hairstyles.

That was a rather long introduction to lead into the fact that since I last wrote, despite some tinkering around the edges, nothing much has changed with regard to the future activity of the Coachmakers’ Company, either inside or outside of the City. However, the Court is actively considering the matter and when the next edition of Coachlines is published I am hopeful that more news will be available.

Superhero update

For now I am pleased to report that the nation’s new superhero, Colonel Tom Moore, was inducted as a Freeman of the City of London on 12th May, and at the same time broke yet another record by becoming the first person to be awarded the Freedom of the City in a virtual ceremony – the first ever because of the coronavirus pandemic. You can read all about it here:

I am sure that like me you would applaud the efforts of any late developer but I must say that Colonel Tom has taken the concept to a completely new level; I wonder what his next conquest might be; he is clearly a centenarian in a hurry.

That wasn’t a link but I’d like to thank Past Master David Shalit MBE for pointing out that contrary to what I said in the previous edition, Colonel Tom’s Freedom is not an Honorary Freedom which would have to be granted by an individual resolution of Common Council and is something that is rarely conferred. As PM David explained, while being proposed and seconded by the Lord Mayor and the Chairman of the Policy Committee makes Colonel Tom’s Freedom of unusual distinction, it is regarded simply as Freedom of the City and would have been contained in the list forming part of the agenda of every council meeting. He went on to tell me that in his 35 years’ service on the Common Council PM David can only remember two Honorary Freedoms being granted, other than for members of the royal family, and these were granted to Lady Thatcher and Nelson Mandela; the royal recipients were HRH The Princess Royal, HRH The Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. So although Colonel Tom has become a national icon, he still has work to do.

Following on from that however, those of you who have rested upon your status as Freemen of the Coachmakers’ Company will recall that in Coachlines published on 6th April 2020 I explained how during this time of great restriction, my good friend Murray Craig, the Clerk to the Chamberlain’s Court, had put in place measures to enable you to apply for your own Freedom of the City by electronic means. If you have not yet done so, please follow this link to obtain details of how it can be done.

However, taking a leaf out of Colonel Tom’s well-thumbed book of getting things done, Murray has now also arranged for all applicants to obtain the Freedom of the City in the same way as Colonel Tom’s trail blazing event. It is acknowledged that to do it this way loses some of the theatre and gravitas associated with attending in person, but if it works for you, full details are here. Please note that this method will remain available for the duration but once the All Clear is sounded, normal business will resume and personal attendance will be the only way to obtain Freedom of the City.

In other City news

Nurses on the move

For the past couple of years small groups of determined nurses have been sighted at various City events canvassing their cause that their Guild should progress towards becoming a Livery Company. Their diligence, enthusiasm and general good humour has now paid off and the Guild of Nurses has been formally recognised by the Court of Aldermen as a Company without Livery. The whole Livery Community congratulates the Nurses as they ascend to this next stage in status on their journey, particularly during such a testing time. This excellent news broke simultaneously with International Nurses Day celebrated on 12th May, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Well done the Nurses.

In search of a Clerk

Departing tangentially for a moment, I don’t normally bring this stuff to your attention but the Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass has issued notice that there is a vacancy for a new Clerk. The current Clerk, Alison Evans, has not thrown herself under a bus in exasperation (and not because TfL isn’t running them at the moment) she is instead to remain with the Glaziers’ Company in a new role. However, in this time of great uncertainty I thought that someone out there, either Coachmaker or known to a Coachmaker, might be looking for a change in direction once that All Clear is heard. So if you, or someone known to you, have masochistic tendencies, full details can be found here – and no, I haven’t applied.

More cars

Scanning through the various City News inputs I receive you may also find this link to be of interest.

Booze – 20% off online WSET wine and spirits courses

Changing tack, hopefully the thought of alcohol has really grabbed your attention because if like the Assistant Clerk and I you have recently found an increased number of empty bottles in your recycling bin, you may wish to fill some time learning more about your favourite source of comfortable numbness. My good friend and colleague Edward Macey-Dare, Clerk to the Distillers’ Company has sent me the following news:

The Distillers’ Company has a strong relationship with the WSET (The Wine & Spirit Education Trust) which is the leading global provider of courses and qualifications in wines and spirits. The WSET was established in 1969 as a charitable trust to serve the educational needs of the UK’s wine and spirits industry, with founder funding provided by both the Distillers’ and Vintners’ Companies. Its home for the first 36 years was Five Kings House on Upper Thames Street, just next to Vintners’ Hall. Today, the WSET is based near London Bridge, in Bermondsey Street and its courses are now available in more than 70 countries, both to industry professionals and drinks enthusiasts eager to learn more. Last year, more than 100,000 people worldwide took a WSET qualification.

The WSET is still very much associated with, and supported by, both the Distillers and the Vintners, and has continued to work closely with City Livery Companies throughout the past 50 years. Its CEO, Ian Harris MBE, is proud to be a senior member of both the Distillers’ Company and the Vintners’ Company. During these recent unsettling months, and while the WSET’s School has been closed for classroom courses, many people have chosen to study via one of its online courses. Online learning can be a great way to gain new skills, indulge a long-held interest, or simply connect with people with similar passions.

If any of your Liverymen would be interested in developing their own knowledge of wines and/or spirits, the WSET is extending a 20% discount to all Livery Company members (and their families and friends) with the code: LIVERY20. This code can be used on all WSET online Level 1 and 2 courses starting before the end of September 2020, through the WSET School in London. All of these courses are suitable for beginners and can be completed 100% online. For more information about the courses included in this offer and how to book, follow this link. 

In conclusion

Honorary Court Assistant Lesley Upham, the Chairman of the Communications Committee, supported by her Committee and others, have put in a lot of effort to enhance the Coachlines experience and provide you with an alternative means by which to remain connected to the Company and its members. As the Master said in what may become a long running series of epic performances in front of the camera, we are not able to meet face-to-face right now, and may not be able to for some time, so every effort is being made to do what we can by other means.

Please take the time to read and watch the various parts of this edition of Coachlines, the content of which represents the broad spectrum of Coachmaker activities; including some great input from our military affiliates. I have particularly enjoyed the excellent videos featuring Court Assistant Mark Broadbent and Liveryman Simon Diffey; and if you have not yet watched the Master’s video message, try and guess who it is that has the speaking part. As I have mentioned many times before, if you have an interesting story that you would like to share with your fellow Coachmakers, please do not be shy; send it in and help brighten up our days while we wait for the time that we can meet again.

And finally, following the successful turbocharging of the Coachlines output I should like to express my personal thanks to Ann Neilson of Immediate Network Limited. She is the lady what does the magic with the wiggly amps to make all the right stuff happen when you click the keys on your keyboard, plus a host of other things too. Without her help Coachlines would not look like it does. Thank you Ann for all your help and support with Coachlines and everything else that you make happen.

Until next time, stay safe and well, and remember: Surgit Post Nubila Phoebus.