Page 3 - July 2017
P. 3

From the Master
John Mansfield
If I were to try to put together a Past Masters’ group of Viking Cockneys with a (admittedly tenuous) connection to the Great Fire of London and also to the conquest of the South Pole I suspect I might be in a fairly select group of one. I am however that man.
Those who attended Common Hall last year will already be aware that I regard myself as a Viking because my mother’s family came from Denmark. Somewhat confusingly when sending out the Christmas cards my mother’s family cannot decide, however, how to spell their surname with various branches offering it as Amondson, Amundsen and Amondsen. However that clearly means that I must be related somewhere along the line to a long lost cousin, Roald Amundsen, who was the first man to reach the South Pole some five weeks earlier than Captain Scott. I am a cockney as I was born within the sound of Bow Bells. That said technically I was not because alas, Bow Bells could not be rung at that time. This was a consequence of Mr Hitler’s favourite airline having destroyed them some years earlier, and they did not ring again until I was about 8 years old. However, the rule says only that you need to be born within the sound of Bow Bells, not that you need to have
actually heard them, so that must be ok. At worst I claim honorary membership.
As to the Great Fire most members know that I worked for Lloyds Bank, and in that capacity spent some time at their offices in Faryners House in Pudding Lane which were built on the site of Thomas Faryners bakers shop where the fire began. Clearly therefore I am responsible both for the financial crash in 2008 and London burning down in 1666.
A friend asked me recently what you have to do to become a Livery Master. My response was that you need to hang around for about 20 years never expecting or cultivating it to happen, and in the unlikely event that it does, reflecting that you must not have upset too many people along the way. Being your Livery Master has, however, been an absolute privilege and one that I would not have missed.
This particular cockney has had tea at Buckingham Palace, unfortunately the Queen was missing as she had to have a cataract operation that day, (obviously understandable as, had she cancelled, I suspect she would have had to wait six months for the NHS to provide another date to her!), so I had to make do with Charles, Camilla, Anne and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Rather tough luck really. I have dined with the Prime Minister, the
Master at the Brigantes Breakfast
Lord Mayor twice, the First Sea Lord, the last but one head of the Army and have had cocktails with the Air Chief Marshal. Of course they had no idea who I was, but that is a mere trifle.
I attended the Brigantes Breakfast which was held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. The breakfast (which is actually a lunch - go figure!) is intended mainly for the benefit of Liverymen of City Companies who live in the North of England, but was supported by the attendance of many Masters. Approximately 400 Liverymen were in attendance.
I have attended many lectures on subjects as diverse as the conflict between science and religion and the Roman London still present beneath our feet. The first of those was interesting in that the clerics present all seemed to advocate in favour of science rather that the Bible, and I did wonder where faith fits in. Still what do I know? Mistress Firefighter Lesley has also had a ball on the Consorts’ circuit, and she is one up on me having had lunch with a queen. In her case Queen Elizabeth 1st who apparently looked very well considering her age.
And so I now disappear into the sunset with this final comment - Thank you all so much for giving me the opportunity to serve as your Master.
    The Master & Mistress Firefighter at Buckingham Palace
John Mansfield
Worshipful Company of Firefighters
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