30 July 2009
Dropped off my Australian friends mid-morning. Michael heading for Gottenberg and Kate for Paris.
This was the evening of the dinner given for me at the Atheneum Club in Pall Mall, organized by my good friend John Tackerberry QC and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
There was a wonderful turnout of 50 plus in a beautiful private room. We had drinks in the garden which it shares with the Travellers Club and one other. The food and wine were delicious and the Johnâ€™s speech kind and flattering but most important he quite rightly acknowledged Aliceâ€™s very important role in my life and therefore her contribution to whatever modest achievements I am said to have made.
My humble contribution seem to go down extremely well, I was lucky, I felt in particularly good form and had a very receptive audience. I cannot resist repeating here the two anecdotes, relating to the Athenaeum, with which I started my talk. I do hope the second one does not give offence to anyone but it was meant to have happened. (Allegedly!!)
“When Sarah, Johnâ€™s PA, told me that the venue would be the Atheneum and not Willes Road Chambers, which I initially suspected would more than adequately accommodate the number of interested persons, I was reminded of the possibly apocryphal story of F.E Smith â€¦â€¦(who) was the conservative Lord Chancellor and personal friend of Winston Churchill’s, whose habit it was to lunch at Whites and on the way back to the House to drop in to the Atheneum to relieve himself. Â After the fourth or fifth visit the hall porter said, â€œExcuse me sir, are you a member?â€ â€œOh,â€ said the Lord Chancellor,â€ is this a club too?â€
F.E Smith, was a renowned wit, as a 1924 entry in Evelyn Waughâ€™s diary records. When an English High Court judge presiding in a sodomy case sought advice on sentencing from Lord Birkenhead. “Could you tell me,” he asked, “what do you think one ought to give a man who allows himself to be buggered?” Birkenhead replied without hesitation, “Oh, thirty shillings or two pounds; whatever you happen to have on you.â€
It was a lovely evening and I was greatly honoured and flattered by so many kind and important people turning out to acknowledge the modest contribution I have made to arbitration.