Back to normal (nearly) at the Summer Banquet – report from Junior Warden Philip Thomas
Few attending the Livery Dinner on 6th February last year realised that they would have to wait a year and a half before getting the chance to dine with their fellow liverymen and guests again, but coronavirus intervened, and we all had to wait until 2 July and the splendid Summer Banquet before we could meet up in person once more.
In truth, attendance needed to be limited to just under a hundred to comply with Covid rules, but the balmy summer weather made it entirely appropriate we should start the evening sitting outside in the charming, cloistered courtyard of Haberdashers’ Hall before we moved indoors for the main event in Haberdashers’ fine new Livery Hall, bedecked with its historic oil paintings and sumptuous ornaments.
We were fortunate to be joined in our first dinner back by an array of eminent guests from other liveries: Master Entrepreneur, Mr Lars Andersen, Master Clockmaker, Mr Mark Levy, Master Glazier, Mr Michael Dalton, Master Information Technologist, Mr Mark Holford and Mr John Denyer, who is a Warden with the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. It all made for an evening of good food, excellent wines and sparkling conversation. And some fine jazz singing from Emma Smith, who chose, appropriately, to treat us to Frank Sinatra’s paean to London Town, a city he regarded as one of the greatest in the world (no disagreement there, then!).
Master, Martyn Wheatley, observed, in his closing remarks, that even Covid could not shut the Scientific Instrument Makers down. The Company’s business had proceeded almost unimpaired over the year because of our early implementation of good internet communications. In fact, attendances at committee meetings and at Court were higher than ever as a result of Zoom, while shifting the lecture programme online meant that SIM webinars, on subjects as diverse as pulsars, gravitational waves, aircraft engineering, air accidents, air quality and measuring the Covid epidemic, were extremely well attended too. He could not remember a busier year. He was delighted to acknowledge the signal contribution made by the Clerk and the Assistant Clerk to setting up and maintaining the electronic links and presented each of them a special gift on behalf of himself, of the Deputy Master and of the Wardens, in recognition of sterling service in a difficult year.
Everyone present seemed to enjoy a magical, summer evening in the heart of the City, including the rare chance it gave them to have proper, person-to-person chats over dinner. There was clearly a widespread feeling that full emergence from lockdown should not be delayed too long. Then, in his statement just three days later, the Prime Minister confirmed that England will be opening up fully in a couple of weeks’ time. With any luck, the Company should be able to get back even closer to normality from then on!
7 July 2021