The Livery Society Dinners are always more relaxed, informal and intimate, and therefore a good opportunity to meet each other in a different setting. This was to be Simon Wood’s first outing as organiser, and he’d chosen the Oxford and Cambridge Club; which is, indeed, a new setting for us. I’d only been there once before, but remembered the Escher-like stairways running from floor to floor, leading you up and down and into little rooms with sofas, and past other rooms where serious looking people in suits were tapping away on computers. Frankly, I feel that one should allow extra time for getting lost on the staircases there. In the event, person after person arrived in the room where we were having our ‘pre-dinner’ reception, looking mildly triumphant at having found the right place, particularly those ladies who had attempted to go via the ladies’ room, thus adding another incomprehensible twist to the journey.
Greeted with a glass of champagne, we were happy to see old friends and catch up on some news of each other’s doings. After a while, we were summoned to dinner and into a splendid room entirely occupied by one long table, seating all 28 of us, and already sparkly with glasses and silver, and strewn with personalised invitations from Gilly Yarrow asking each of us to step up in regard to the Feltmakers’ float at the Lord Mayors’ Show in November. Finding our place names, we were treated to a splendid grace from Andrew –
‘For Oxford and Cambridge
Game bird and ham shanks
For health and good wines
To God we give thanks.
We’ve coffee and port
And pudding to nourish
May friendship and Feltmakers
Ever prosper and flourish.’
…And then we tucked in. The Club is known for its food, and under the Head Chef, Stuart Littlejohn, we were treated to a very good three course meal, ham hock and fois gras terrine then guinea fowl, followed by three delicious puds on a plate, with appropriate wines to accompany.
After the meal, the Master rose to welcome the new Members. He spoke briefly about gaining insights into the importance of the Livery and its relationship with the City, reminding us that we are all part of something both historic and useful. He talked about his aim during the year to extend the initiative towards closer ties with the modern Feltmaking industry. He also told an amusing story about a time when the Clerk had persuaded him that it was quite the thing to wear a hat at one particular function, so the Master obediently popped off to Jermyn St and bought a very splendid black trilby, which he duly wore to the function. On arrival he found he was the only one wearing a hat, amid a sea of uncovered heads!
The evening started to break up shortly after coffee, and it was obvious that everyone had thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We look forward to many more outings organised by Simon, and we thank him for making this one happen.