02.05.20 The Clerk

Clerk’s notes – May 4 2020

I think it’s fair to say that the world is in a rather confusing place right now. As the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues, whatever we thought of as normal in January 2020 has now changed in ways that might previously have been contained only within the pages of the most lurid science fiction novel. This looks set to be the case for the foreseeable future. However, it is important to maintain a positive outlook because as the Coachmakers’ motto states: After the clouds, the sun.

Mark The Clerk

Mark The Clerk

This was a sentiment echoed by the indomitable Captain Tom Moore just before the last edition of Coachlines was published on 20th April. Since then the total that he has raised for NHS charities has risen to a figure in excess of £32m, he has reached his 100th birthday, received in excess of 140,000 birthday cards, been promoted to Honorary Colonel, reached number one in the music charts, appeared more times on the television than Helen Skelton (an in-joke at The Old Barn) and has become a beacon of light in the most testing time for the world since the Second World War.

And today I received news that Colonel Tom is to be made a Honorary Freeman of the City of London. You can read the full details of the announcement here.

In other City developments it was announced last week that William Russell, the 692nd Lord Mayor of the City of London, will serve an additional year in office to ensure continuity of leadership during the current COVID-19 outbreak. The Sheriffs of the City of London, Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli and Christopher Hayward, will also serve an extra year term until September 2021. Please click here for more details.

The latest message from the Lord Mayor to the Livery is here.

Company plans for the immediate future

The Master has highlighted in his piece that the painful decision has been made to cancel all the events that we had hoped to hold in July. As a result, there will be no Coachmaker events held in the remainder of this Livery Year which ends on 31st August 2020. The normal round of administrative meetings will continue via electronic means and work continues to engage the membership via similar methods.

An excellent example of this is the Coachmakers’ 100 Club draw as arranged by Liveryman John Pearl, the results of which appear in another part of this edition. It was great fun to be involved in it but as with most of our major activities, the first dress rehearsal also happened to be the first public performance. However, John has plans to make the next draw better and we are looking forward to again rolling out the “big money little bits of paper” in due course.

The natural corollary to this of course is what happens after 31st August? Good question, well asked and right now we are not sure. The Master and Wardens have started the debate on how we might address the Court Progression which requires an Election Court and installation of a new Master on 1st September but given the current circumstances there is no precedent that is known to offer guidance. However, all the available evidence is being considered and it is hoped that by the end of next week a proposal will be presented to the Court for consideration. With a fair wind and a following sea therefore, a decision will be forthcoming to make an announcement possible in the next edition of Coachlines on 18th May 2020.

With regard to the effect that this will have on the future social programme of the Company, again it is not possible to say. However, it is likely that until the early part of 2021 we may have to rely upon events that are arranged on an opportunity basis rather than relying upon a detailed calendar programme of events; the first of these events may also be held outside London. Be assured that as soon as it is safe, practical and responsible for us to resume events we shall do so and as the situation evolves, I shall keep you all informed.

Coachmakers’ support to those in need

The Charity Committee has been challenged by the Master to come up with proposals to offer support in these difficult circumstances when so many may now be struggling where previously they were not. A report has been presented to the Court on the charitable distributions made to date in this livery year, and to make a proposal for further charitable distributions beyond the normal annual cycle in line with the Master’s request. The Court is considering the details of the proposals and it is hoped that in the next edition of Coachlines on 20th May a full report of the actions that emerge from this initiative can be included.

In other City news

As I have alluded to already, the Livery community has matched the wider world in its embrace of the electronic environment. God bless the Wiggly Amp. As a result I am able to share with you a plethora of interesting articles and news from across the Livery spectrum.

Although the appropriate use of electronic means of communication helps us to move around in the virtual sense, we must also be careful in the world of magic and electrickery because there be dragons. Therefore my good friend, the Clerk to the Information Technologists, has sent me some really useful advice about how to electronically work from home securely, as well as some useful advice for small businesses and charities. Much of what is offered is based on common sense and you may already be fully internet aware but you may find them useful.

Further utilising the wiggly amp in the quest for knowledge, if any of you followed the links in the previous edition of Coachlines and took advantage of some of the resources suggested by Paul Jagger you may find this compendium of City related knowledge of some interest. Even if you did not, it still contains some very useful links which are worth exploring to expand your understanding of the City and some of its more venerable Livery Companies. Such was the popularity of his online lecture ‘Treasures of the Livery Halls’ he has scheduled a repeat on Friday 22nd May at 6pm. You can enrol to take part here.

Paul is also a wiz in the world of heraldry and he has arranged to deliver a lecture on the topic of ‘Customs and Ceremonies of the City of London’. It will be a generous nod to the work of Dr George Williamson, author of Curious Survivals, which was published in 1921 and records the many curious traditions extant in the UK. Dr Williamson’s book opens with the City and says there is no place on earth where so many curious habits have been preserved. Paul suggests that since 1921 the variety of customs have only increased and this is your chance to learn about some of them.

The lecture will be held on Friday 8th and 15th of May at 6pm and enrolment can be made here.

To further illustrate the diverse nature of the Livery Companies of London, I offer you an opportunity to participate in an initiative being led by the Framework Knitters. My fellow Clerk to that Company, Shaun Mackaness, tells me that they are encouraging members, their families and friends to support an initiative to knit woollen squares, which can then be put together to make blankets for charities. Past Sheriff Liz Green (also a Past Master Framework Knitter) has put together a summary of the initiative in case there are any Coachmakers or members of their families who might like to contribute to this initiative. If you’ve reached the point where the house is tidier than it has ever been and you’ve even managed to sort out your sock drawer you might be ‘willing to knit’ click here for more details.

This next initiative is probably more for those who live in London or who may have business interests within the City but the Museum of London is seeking to collect objects and first-hand experiences to reflect Londoners’ lives during this time of crisis. In doing so it intends to keep a record and to ensure future generations of Londoners will be able to learn about and understand this extraordinary period.

As a major urban centre, London has faced several epidemics, including smallpox and the 1889-1893 and 1918 flu pandemics. The museum holds collections relating to these outbreaks, such as the dress Queen Victoria wore to mourn the loss of her grandson to influenza in 1892, serving not only as a reminder of the suffering during that time, but also of the effects on society and culture, changing the way people dressed and interacted.

The museum is keen to focus on three strands of collecting: how the physical spaces in the city have been transformed – from a bustling metropolis to hushed streets – while the social and working lives of many have moved into digital spaces; the effects on key and home workers and how children and young people are reacting to and coping with the changes now that many schools are closed.

The Museum of London is hoping to collect both physical and digital objects, reflecting the voices and experiences of a broad range of Londoners. From those working on the front line to those quietly working in the background, from parents turned home-school support to young people online gaming, the museum wants to collect objects from those who can tell the story of London in lockdown.

Individuals and organisations who would like to donate objects should get in touch with the Museum via social media @MuseumofLondon or by email enquiry@museumoflondon.org.uk

And finally

Beyond the Zoom online meetings, conference calls, business emails and Skype calls with various friends and relatives, if you have exhausted all other avenues of entertainment during this period of involuntary containment, if your garden is crying out for mercy and you’ve redecorated the rooms and re-organised the furniture in your house so often that you no longer recognise it, if you’ve polished the car so much that you can’t look at it in bright sunlight and your dog has taken to hiding every time you pick up the lead, try this as an alternative source of activity http://www.liverycompanies.info/library/

Alternatively – just resort to gin.

For me, it is almost time to help the Assistant Clerk bring the manure makers in from their fields to their pristine clean stables so that they can eat, pee and poo to their entire satisfaction – and tomorrow we’ll do the same all over again.

I think you’ll agree that this is a bumper edition of Coachlines containing a variety of excellent articles from a cross-section of the Coachmaker membership which have been designed to both entertain and inform you during this period of enforced inactivity.  I hope you to take the time to read all of them; and having done so, if you feel the urge to put your own fingers to the keyboard please share your ideas and knowledge with us.

Stay safe and well, and remember: Surgit Post Nubila Phoebus.