One of the customs of the Great XII livery companies (see page on this subject) is that over a year each Company entertains the Master, Prime Warden in the case of the Fishmongers and Goldsmiths, and Clerk of the other eleven companies at the Hall.
Of course it would not be admitted there is any inter-company rivalry as to who puts on the best show but it is an event where the team who run the Hall led by Alastair Ross, the Clerk, John Freestone, the Beadle and Gerald Quadros, our new head chef, put both a great deal of thought and energy into the evening.
Every Master labours under the illusion that his year hosts the best party ever but, being as objective as possible, I think we had a great evening. It was particularly nice to be told how the Company atmosphere in the Hall is particularly welcoming and hospitable.
The Master Mercer, Sir David Clementi, makes a speech on the behalf of the guests, except of course at the Mercers' own dinner. In his youth he was a noted hurdler and made specific reference to Second Master Warden Lady Victoria Leatham's father, the sixth Marquess of Exeter. In addition to being a Draper he was a Conservative politician, prominent athlete and sports official. He won the 400 metre hurdles at the 1928 Summer Olympics - a feat famously portrayed in Chariots of Fire. He was later President of the International Amateur Athletic Federation and Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee. David said it was a matter of personal pride that improved training and equipment had allowed him to beat the 1928 record some forty years later.
He also asked me to put a glowing report of the evening on my blog, but I have probably said enough already.