September saw the reopening of most schools in England and the introduction of the new "rule of six". Transmission rates of the Covid-19 virus were on the increase leading to speculation that a second wave was imminent. The UK Government published its Internal Markets Bill which caused uproar as it threatens to break international law.
This month proved to be another fairly busy one. We held our first ever virtual wine tasting, "A vinous journey through France" which was a huge success, with over 30 people attending. We travelled through France, comparing the wonderful wines such as Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly-Fuissé and making comparisons between Left Bank and Right Bank Bordeaux wines. Francis Flavin, our wine expert, brought the whole experience to life with his insightful and witty narration. We even had time for a short catch up amongst friends as our Acting Clerk, Past Master Lesley Day, had expertly managed to arrange breakout rooms for us at the end. A truly wonderful event.
Maureen also attended a virtual lunch with the City Consorts which she enjoyed very much despite having to provide her own food and wine in the comfort of our dining room.
Unfortunately, the annual Sheep Drive over London Bridge had to be cancelled, but I did have the privilege of attending the ceremony for the Election of the Lord Mayor at Guildhall. This was a very different ceremony to the usual affair. Usually the Guildhall is packed out for this most prestigious event, with thousands of Liverymen squashed tightly together in the Halls. This year it was completely different. There was no procession of Masters, no wearing of Robes by the Masters and no procession of the Lord Mayor with his fantastic entourage. Instead, those few Masters who turned up were seated in a very socially distanced manner and once seated, nobody was allowed to get up and mingle as normal. However, it was still good to be there to celebrate the Election of William Russell for his second term as Lord Mayor of London.
Maureen and I also had the privilege of attending the memorial service of Jean Stokes, a Companion of the Company, held at the beautiful All Saints Church at Rickling in Essex. We all had to wear masks in the church, were socially distanced and were not allowed to sing, but the Vicar encouraged us to join in by "holy humming" along with the hymns which were played through a loudspeaker system. Despite these strange restrictions, it proved to be a lovely service in a beautiful corner of England. A very fitting tribute to the memory of Jean.