Past Masters

Paul Michael

My main memories:

This picture is of me with Jacqui (on my right) and Lady Patricia Finch; Sir Robert Finch was Lord Mayor during part of my Year.

Why is this picture significant to me? Well, on that day we were presiding over the Building Cleanability Awards that were held at the Guildhall and Sir Robert and Lady Finch were the guests of honour; it was the only time that I got a profuse apology from a Lord Mayor!

Why? Well Jacqui and I along with Michael Bizley (the Clerk at the time) and the Wardens were waiting outside the entrance of the Guildhall for the Lord Mayor to arrive. We were dressed in morning suits (tail coats) and robes waiting for the limo to pull in. No limo, the Lord Mayor used his maroon taxi and was dressed in a lounge suit. As they alighted from the taxi, Lady Patricia was heard to say “Robert the ‘boys’ (she always referred to us as the boys) look very smart, they are in morning dress”. As he approached and shook my hand he leaned in and said “Master, please accept my sincere apologies for arriving underdressed, I didn’t read the invitation properly, please forgive me”. Of course we did forgive him had a great day and many more great days with him during his year.

We have been lucky in the Environmental Cleaners because we have had four Lord Mayors who are members of our Livery, but one of the best should have been our Master in 2004 and that was Sir Roger Cork, a real Pickwickian figure. It was because of his untimely death that I became Master a year early, I should have been his Senior Warden.

To tell you what sort of person he was, we were at the RAMC lunch that was being held in the Officer’s mess at Camberley. Immediately after toasts many of us went for a comfort break including Sir Roger. Standing next to him, he says that he is going to have to rush off and can’t stay for the speeches – remember we have just enjoyed an excellent five-course lunch – I said have you got a business appointment? He roared with laughter and said “Good God, no, I have to get changed and get to the Butchers Hall. It is their Baron of Beef night tonight and I can’t miss that”. Sadly, though perhaps not surprisingly, he died from a heart attack.

Like all of our Masters I had a wonderful year with highlights such as the trip to Ironbridge, time spent with Sir Robert Finch and of course the Garden party at Buckingham Palace.

“…profuse apology from a Lord Mayor”

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