A measure of greatness: Mark

It has been a busy old time of late. Much done and much to write about. Firstly there was the much vaunted ‘PechaKucha’ organised by Save the Rhino at London Zoo. Graced with such glitterati (in bunny-hugger terms) as Louis Theroux, Ken Livingstone, Richard Bonham, Frank Gardner, Richard Terry and Hayden Turner not to mention the excellent, if under the weather, compere Clive Anderson….backed up by the indomitable Cathy Dean. But more of all this jollity at another time.

This was followed up by another ‘function’ the following week. This time the annual get together bash of The George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust (GAWPT)…try spelling that out in full each time whilst suffering from Parkinson’s….which also brings me to the fact that Parkinson’s is a bloody hard word to keep spelling out…..when suffering from…….Parkinson’s!!!

Anyway, to continue…… for all the sponsors, trustees and the great and good who support the lifetime aims of the ‘Old Man’. This their 23rd annual dinner. Cathy Dean should have been there but alas was struck down with a kidney infection. Arkwright had been invited by Lucy and had aquired two places. At the last minute one became available and he asked me if I would like to go…..duh??!!! It was a bit of last minute rush and I was barely dressed when we sped up the A3 into London. Getting fully attired into full bib & tucker in a compact car, hurtling through the traffic is not the easiest of feats, being over 6ft, at the best of times, let alone with my current state of health. I just managed to finish tying my tie as we strode, belatedly, into the Chesterfield Hotel, a venue that has hosted this event for all those years……they were, apparently, rather tolerant….

What sort of do was this???

I learnt later that Lucy rarely attends them, if at all.

We had managed to negotiate the horrendous traffic around Knightsbridge, spent an awful long while trying to find a parking spot and then with trepidation entered the reception area thronging with a distinguished looking cohort. We needn’t have worried. No sooner had we set foot in the door, a glass of bubbly was thrust into our hands and a large, bespectacled, gentleman, Chairman of GAWPT, Mr Andrew Mortimer made us feel very, very welcome.

The food and service were excellent although I did give up on the lamb shank. With my shaky hands, foods like that are almost impossible to carve up into bit sized chunks. The staff seemed confused and horrified when I asked for a sharp steak-knife and even the Manager fussed around, concerned ‘a steak knife…for lamb?’…tut tut.

Fitz gave an eloquent talk about his work and I was struck by the loyalty and admiration he has inspired others, particularly those whom he attended school with; and namely, it seems to be the school rugby team. It was definitely like an old boys reunion. Bob Marshall-Andrews QC also gave a short and humerous speech about Fitz and GAWPT. Arkwright and I sat on the same table amongst other ‘old school comrades’. I sat next to the Stowe school Headmasters wife, a delightful lady, on one side and I was impressed to have Mr Robin Page, writer, broadcaster, journalist…oh..and farmer, nearby on the other.

We had long, interesting and frank discussions that make Prime Minister’s Question Time look like a walk in the park. Unfortunately he had to leave before the end of the evening as he had to catch the last train back to Cambridge. A farmer’s life is never easy. We also met several other impressive people (the Aspinalls for example) and there seemed an unaturally high number of legal bods. Maybe they are the only ones who can afford these sort of events, anyway Rosie would have been at home

In passing, whilst bidding our farewells, I mooted that Arkwright was in a quandry. Which was the superior claim? Should he advertise his business as ‘purveyor of fine goods to’ (a) Mick Jagger (b) John Terry (c) ‘Freddie’ Flintoff or (d) Tony Fitzjohn? I know who I’d choose!!!

It was a good night.

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