Shrieval Chain Presentation – Puffin On Pipes

It was simply fantastic to have 230 friends and supporters turn up at the Dutch Church at noon on 19 September for the traditional “Shrieval Chain Presentation”. Richard Townend, St Margaret Lothbury’s organist, kindly took a whirl on the Dutch organ to welcome guests to the Church, which had kindly donated its facilities in aid of the local community. Sir David Wootton, Chairman of the Shrieval Chain Appeal Committee, gave a most wonderful traditional ‘roasting’ of the Sheriff-elect (me). Ruby Sayed and Lars Andersen, joint Secretaries, and Robert Woodthorpe Browne, Treasurer, presented a wonderful Book of Donors in my favourite colour.

A Word Of Thanks

Thursday, 19 September 2019,Dutch Church

My Lord, Aldermen, My Fellow Sheriff-Elect, Masters, Chief Commoner, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Deputy John Bennett, John Scott CC, fellow Sheriff-elect Christopher Hayward CC, and I always find it a delight to have friends round who are desperate to see the finest ward in the City of London; and today is no exception.  The immense generosity of hundreds of people touches the Shrieval Chain Committee, Elisabeth, and me enormously.  Thank you.

We are delighted to be in a special church at the heart of a ward that has a particular affiliation with those of us from overseas who have made our homes in the City.  I am thrilled that fellow Gresham lecturer Richard Townend, who normally plays Mendelsohn’s organ in St Margaret Lothbury has kindly tickled these organ’s keys and pedals so we can appreciate the magnificence of the Dutch Church with our hosts today.  I hope my Church of England chaplain, Alan McCormack, isn’t too jealous.

Sir David, my sincere thanks for your kind words – or as we Americans say, your ‘roasting’.  As tripwires went off around the world after your phone calls, I feared you might uncover my secret life in import/export or reveal how I’ve nearly found the cure for cancer.  But you didn’t.  You also kindly avoided boring the audience with long, repetitive descriptions of tall, dark, and handsome, my assault on Kilimanjaro, or rounding the Shetlands in search of puffins.  Elisabeth and I truly appreciate your most generous sense of humour, and sense of fiction.

A Coat of Arms along with a shrieval badge and chain, along with a brooch, really should inspire a Merchant Ivory film.  The film might be entitled, “A Very English Introspection”.  The process of introspection is part truth, part myth, and part discovery.  Joseph Campbell sets out in The Hero’s Tale the stages of introspection – leaving The Ordinary World for the City because of Archie Galloway and Sir David Lewis, The Call to Adventure by the Livery, spending money on things you know nothing about, Crossing the First Threshold at the College of Arms to see John Petrie, The Magical Mentors of William Hunt on crests and Grant Macdonald on chains, the Dragon’s Lair of Grant’s smelter & forge, Robert Woodthorpe Browne’s Moment of VAT and Despair, the Ultimate Treasures before you today, and later a Homeward Return with Elisabeth – with nothing to lose but our chains, and brooch.  This story would make a great Pantomime, here in the ward of my predecessor, Alderman Dick Whittington.

As for part truth – imagine your entire family have no idea of your favourite animal, the puffin.  Just because you’ve never gone soppy and bought a gaudy plastic tourist souvenir on a puffin island tour – as part of the puffarazzi – doesn’t mean you haven’t spent 60 years trying to justify smelting a small puffin statue.  As for part myth – do all of you have favourite mottos and sayings, images you can’t do without, or essential bits of work imagery that must feature in your life?  I didn’t, but now I do.

As for part discovery – well, it’s a bit of counselling and psychotherapy to find that your life is really more ‘sciency’ than others, or that most people don’t count the sides of dice, or that playing with equations isn’t what some people do to help their designers along.

And the final bit of introspection is probably having it on public display around you and on your chest so you need to talk about it all the time for a year.

But my remarks are really thanks.  I can, and must, start with the livery, not just our World Traders, Furniture Makers, Water Conservators, and Marketors, but everyone.  I can attest that the true traditions of this City are those of Broad Street Alderman Dick Whittington; an open and tolerant community of people where honest trade is respected and rewarded – or as Thomas Jefferson said at his inaugural speech, providing the World Traders’ motto – “Commerce and honest friendship with all.”  My fellow Sheriff-Elect and I, together with his wonderful Consort Alex, and my love, Elisabeth, shall promote that tradition as we spend this year together in the Old Bailey promoting Primacy of Rule of Law, with a supporting business theme of Strengthening & Simplifying Anti-Money Laundering and a social theme of Inclusion & Diversity.

My sincere thanks to the Committee led by Sir David Wootton, and for his most generous and probing words.  To my campaign manager and Committee Secretary Ruby Sayed, who loves winning elections but also aptly loves her namesake gem, the Ruby.  To her Joint Committee Secretary Lars Andersen, so appropriately creating this beautiful Album of Donors while running a company name called Mynametags.  To my predecessor as Master World Trader and dear friend Robert Woodthorpe Browne for his work on the financial numbers.  To William Hunt and John Petrie for letting me stretch the rules of the College of Arms with a ‘puffin on pipes’ and mathematical equations.  To Grant Macdonald for a masterpiece, a chaotic assembly of life on a chaotic fractal.  To Grant too for a lovely thing I know nothing about, Elisabeth’s gorgeous brooch.  To Bertjan van de Lagemaat and Rein Roos for this wonderful venue.  To Mark Grove and the team of Cook & Butler for a superb reception.  To my love, Elisabeth, for all her hard work for today and for always. 

Lars put in the Book of Donors a wry quote from Terry Pratchett’s book Interesting Times.  “Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.”  This Committee has truly brought order from chaos, and you from your homes and desks.  Elisabeth and I will work hard on our journey ahead to make all of you and the Committee proud during this shrieval year.  Elisabeth and I thank the Committee most sincerely, yet moreover we thank all of you, our friends and supporters, for your kindness and generosity.

Still time to donate – Shrieval Chain Appeal 2019/2020.

And if these two don’t look happy, then who does?