Sunday, 16 December 2012


I always knew that 2012 would be a roller-coaster year, but it’s been positively supersonic … 70 years came on July 23, and I celebrated it in style with a Luncheon Party at the Knebworth House Barns on 7 September, a perfect day with 60 family, friends and Livery Company guests. In a summer of poor weather we were blest with warm sunshine. A highlight was the presence of Joan, Eileen and Stella, three bridesmaids at my parents’ wedding in April 1936. On 18 September I was installed as Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects for 2012-3, at Waterrnen’s Hall in the City. Robert Adam, an architect with whom I have enjoyed working over the past few years made generous remarks in his reply to the guests. I’ve almost lost count of the events I have attended through the Autumn, including a charity walk round 40 livery halls, processing in two services at St. Paul’s Cathedral and in the Lord Mayor’s Show, and several black tie dinners. My events began with a visit to the Henry Moore Foundation, my Master’s Reception at the Artworkers’ Guild and a tour of the Royal Courts of Justice led by my cousin, Mr Justice (Sir Gary) Hickinbottom, and we are having our customary Carol Service at St. Lawrence Jewry on 14 December. Then a let up until the machine starts up again in the New Year! As my Consort, I have been fortunate and delighted by the support of my stalwart friend Ann Yorke, who enlivens every event that she attends (and she attended a ‘ladies only’ luncheon hosted by the outgoing Lady Mayor at Mansion House, which included a tour of the private apartment).  

Rewind to Spring 2012, on 31 March, Sheila, my aide for 23 years retired. This has impacted upon my ability to deal with a workload that has not lightened significantly, despite my regularly turning new work away. Happily Sheila and husband Alan have attended several Company events. Rowse also misses Sheila, and is rather capricious as Office Manager, but a true feline friend in times of stress. In April I was keynote speaker at the celebrations for the 75th Anniversary of Greenbelt, Maryland and in July I presented a paper on Barry Parker’s work before and after his two years in Brazil, when I attended the International Planning History Society conference at Sao Paulo. Unusually there are no more trips abroad planned until the Company visit to Finland in May 2013. 

The Olympic Games passed me by, although Ann and I sat through most of the televised opening ceremony in The George at Alfriston, on one of the Glyndebourne weekends. These included a witty production of Rossini’s Cenerentola, Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen, a hyperactive Purcell’s Fairie Queene (particularly the ‘Duracell’-powered bunnies) and (great relief) the best Marriage of Figaro I have ever seen, ingeniously updated to 1960s hippy Seville, with solid sets based on the heritage of Moorish architecture, a tough, credible production, far removed from neo-Rococo chocolate box Mozart (or the perverse modernism of the production that opened the new house in 1994). The pacing, acting and ensembles were up to the best standards. As I write this I am filling in the booking form for next year! 


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