I extend warm Spring greetings to all. It is hard to believe that we are already in April - the months seem to pass so quickly despite us all being in lockdown with continued limited activities at our disposal. However the good news is that the Prime Minister's path out of lockdown continues apace, with no adverse changes being announced so far. This, of course, reflects the fantastic progress being made with the vaccination programme. At the latest count, 31 million people in the UK have received their first vaccination and 5.5 million people have received their second vaccination, and most importantly, the numbers of people catching Covid 19 and being hospitalised continues to decrease. This is a fantastic achievement by the NHS, for which we are all immensely grateful.
The first phase of the easing of lockdown commenced in early March with all schools and colleges reopening, weddings being allowed with up to 6 people attending, and a slight easing of restrictions on visits to care homes. And at the end of March, the stay-at-home rule ended and people were allowed to meet outside in groups of up to 6. Everybody is now looking forward to Stage 2 which will hopefully commence on 12th April, with all shops being allowed to open, including hairdressers at long last. Things are certainly looking brighter for the Spring and Summer, let's keep our fingers crossed that we keep making progress with the vaccinations and the consequent reductions in the numbers of people being infected by the virus.
March has been another relatively busy month - it was Census day on the 21st March, when everyone had to complete the online census for the first time. Also, we had the second hottest March day on record, with temperatures reaching 24.5°C on 30th March.
I continue to meet with the Wardens and Clerk on a regular basis to discuss Company business and make plans for the future. There was a meeting of the Court of Assistants in early March, via Zoom, at which many items of business were covered, including the election of Officers for the next year 2021/2022.
I am happy to report the Officers elected were:
Master: Simon Martin
Upper Warden: Prof. John Schofield
Renter Warden: Christopher Causer
Renter Warden in Nomination: Mrs Jenny Rolls
Hearty congratulations and best wishes were extended to them all by the Court.
We also admitted a new Freemen to the Company, Mrs Charlotte Pienaar, who is the daughter of Liveryman Ian Wilson. Charlotte swore the Oath and was warmly welcomed to the Company by everyone.
The court meeting was followed by an interesting talk given by Sean Wilkins, Technical Manager at the Brick Development Association, entitled Build Back Better (in Brick), in which Sean took us through the contribution that good quality bricks have made to the City of London and the world as a whole, displaying some wonderful examples of master craftsman brickwork as shown below. Sean's talk was fascinating and much appreciated by the many Liverymen who took part.
Odder Cemetery Chapel at dusk
I also attended a meeting of the recently established Events Support Group at which we discussed plans for the events for the rest of my year as well as making plans for Simon Martin's events for his year as Master.
In the City I attended several talks, including the "True and Fair" lecture given by the Chartered Accountants' Company and a Fire Service lecture given by the Worshipful Company of Firefighters. There was also a fascinating talk about the life of Samuel Pepys and a seminar on the Future of Transport by the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners.
These were followed by a lecture about the Royal Exchange, and a hilarious talk entitled Dying Laughing, given by a Former Commander of the Metropolitan Police and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals. All very interesting and illuminating as usual.
I am delighted to announce the wonderful news that one of our own Liveryman, Roger Booth, has had a book published. It is his first book, entitled Promised Land, and, although based on historical fact, is a novel.
The novel opens in Burdigala (Bordeaux) in the early fifth century AD, soon after the Emperor Honorius withdraws the legions from Britain. When under Alaric the Visigoths captured Rome they took as hostage the Princess Galla Placidia, half-sister to the Emperor, who has travelled with them ever since. There begins a relationship between Galla Placidia and the new Goth king Athaulf which is an ambiguous mix of personal attraction, political calculation and genuine idealism culminating in marriage and the birth of a son. They hope that their union and in time their son will lead the Western Roman Empire out of the developing chaos. They might have changed the course of history. Except that history is not so easily changed.