Coachlines - November 2020

05.11.20 The Clerk

Clerk’s notes November 2020

Pre-Covid I would have my hair cut every four weeks without fail. As they say, old habits never die but in truth I rather liked to maintain the style that I first sported more than 40 years ago after I first crossed the threshold of Britannia Royal Naval College in January 1979. Post-Covid I have relied upon the skills of the Assistant Clerk and a pair of horse clippers. That she has only been allowed to do it twice since April is no reflection upon her skills in the coiffure department, after all the horses always look smart after their annual clip; no it’s more a nervousness on my part.

Mark The Clerk

Mark The Clerk

However, looking in the mirror the other morning I realised that it was Sergeant Wilson looking back at me with that thick main of greying hair swept back in his signature raffish fashion and I realised that it was time to steel myself again.

Over breakfast I casually mentioned that I had not had this much hair since 1978. Without hesitation and without looking up from her iPad and Special K, the Assistant Clerk said: “I think you mean that it has not been this long”. Such is the challenge of living with an Air Traffic Controller and is a side of the Assistant Clerk that you will not have seen before. However, she has agreed to sharpen my head once more at the weekend.

Prior to 1990 it is reputed that there were women serving in Royal Navy Ships at Trafalgar in 1815. During much of the Cold War, WRNS Weapon Analysts would regularly spend time at sea with modern day warships to monitor live firing exercises and trials, and Fleet Air Arm Training Squadrons would often take WRNS aircraft maintainers to sea in training ships when conducting ab initio embarked flying training. However it was not until October 1990 that members of the Womens’ Royal Naval Service embarked in warships as part of the ship’s official complement.

Announced in February 1990 the whole process of “sending WRNS to sea” was rushed through for political expediency and the first tranche of 30 women walked up the gangway of HMS BRILLIANT on 8th October of that year. Falling between flying courses, in the summer of 1990 I was seconded to the office of the then Captain of the Fleet based at Northwood for three months to help write the final draft of the Defence Council Instruction (DCI) that would tell the fleet how to make it happen. In 1992 the Assistant Clerk joined HMS INVINCIBLE in the second wave of WRNS who went to sea, serving as Operations Officer 3 and responsible for managing the carrier’s daily flying programme.

Therefore from totally different perspectives Rachel and I were involved in the WRNS at Sea initiative right at the very beginning and it was not without its teething troubles. However, thanks to Rachel and her colleagues who endured those first few years of significant change in the way the Royal Navy “manned” its ships, and indeed a shift in attitude among their male colleagues, today it is normal business. In 1993 the Womens’ Royal Naval Service was discontinued as a separate entity and all females became part of the Royal Navy on a par with their male colleagues. Elsewhere in this edition you will find an article from the Commando Helicopter Force that illustrates just how normal it has now become.

Coachmakers’ events

Many of you by now will have experienced one or more of the various Zoom based events that the Master and Livery Committee have organised to keep Coachmakers in contact with one another and provide a little light relief during these dark times. Between now and Christmas there are several more such events on offer and a separate article elsewhere in this edition lists them and provides links directly to the booking forms for each. If you have not yet experienced the fun of the Zoomfish Bowl, do not be shy; jump in and join your fellow Coachmakers to make the best of what has turned out to be a year like no other in living memory.

Looking ahead, it will depend upon how the current period of increased restriction evolves and when the Government decides to ease those restrictions before any decision can be made about what will be possible in the first half of 2021 and when. For now I must inform you that the Carol Service and Supper planned for the 10th December has been cancelled but a live on-line event is being created by the Venerable Ray who is described as a “a bit of a whizz” on the mini-production side of things – watch this space for details.

City News

The Lord Mayor has asked me to circulate a report published by the City of London Corporation recently on London’s recovery following Covid-19 and its long-term competitiveness.

The report, titled London Recharged: Our vision for London in 2025, can be found in PDF form at this link.

Past Sheriff Adrian Waddingham also wrote to me to highlight that one of the delights that many Masters have enjoyed in previous years of office would have been joining an Old Bailey lunch, and getting to know some of the judges at the Old Bailey. Many judges have retired in the past 10 years and when they did they were given a good send-off with a witty valedictory speech in Court Number 1. Past Sheriff Adrian and Past Lord Mayor Sir Roger Gifford have published a compilation of these speeches in a book, for the benefit of the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund, a City charity that helps to rehabilitate offenders to reduce the level of re-offending. For details on how to obtain this book follow this link.

Honorary Court Assistant Alderman Alastair King has also asked me to draw your attention to an event he is leading on Wednesday 11th November 2020 at 1800hrs, during which he invites you to join him as he interviews James Timpson OBE DL, CEO Timpson Ltd – a group with more than 2,150 outlets in the UK and Ireland and representation on most high streets. This is the latest in a series of interviews of exceptional business leaders that Alderman Alastair has conducted as part of the IoD “Business Xtra” online programme.

He will ask James about the outlook for retail at this extraordinary moment. He will also ask about Timpson’s ground-breaking employment practices which see Timpsons hiring ex-offenders throughout the group and run pre-release training in many prisons. James is also Chair of the Prison Reform Trust.  Please e-mail Alderman Alastair privately if you would like him to ask James a particular question.  His e-mail address is:

Alderman Alastair concludes by highlighting that James is a truly exceptional business leader and hopes that you will be able to join him. To join this interview live, please register at the following link which will give you your unique access code:

Many of you will have attended events at HMS PRESIDENT just east of Tower Bridge and my good friend Commodore David Elford who is based there invites you to have a glance at the Naval Regional Command Eastern England (NRCEE) Newsround Ed2, that covers Royal Navy in the public eye (RNIPE) and general engagement, both defence and domestic, through a range of events.

City Livery Committee

The Livery Committee of the City of London commenced activities in July 1864. It was originally created with the purpose of organising and overseeing the elections of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs at Common Hall. 150 years later, the Committee still fulfils this role whilst becoming the forum of communication between the Livery and the officers at Guildhall and Mansion House. It aims to consistently improve communication between the Corporation and the Livery. Furthermore, it strives to increase the involvement of Liverymen in City affairs and continue to act as a forum for discussion.

The Livery Committee is responsible for the organisation of the various training courses and City Briefings for Freemen, Liverymen, Wardens, and their Clerks.
The Livery Committee is facilitated by the City of London Corporation however it is not funded by the Corporation. It therefore independently works by influence and consultation. If you want to hear what they have to say and what news they have for you see here:

In summary

Like so much else this year the Act of Remembrance later this month will be badly affected and it will be conducted in a very different way to what we have all come to expect. Also, the British Legion’s income from the Poppy Day Appeal is also likely to be affected in a negative way. Therefore thinking back to the nation’s most recently discovered new superhero, the indomitable Captain Sir Tom Moore, please dig deep and make your donations online via this website.

Stay safe, well and cheerful and remember: After the Clouds the Sun.

A Commando Wildcat from 847 NAS flown past the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, Scotland; in salute of the approaching period of national remembrance