Unaccustomed as I am… – Mrs Moneypenny mentions me in the Financial Times
“Representing: standing or acting for another, especially through delegated authority. I don’t often represent anyone else and I have never represented my country. Recently, however, I did represent the chairman of a large international bank.
No, I was not standing in for Sir Win Bischoff in his capacity as chairman of Citigroup, but instead as the chairman of trustees of a charity, Career Academies UK, whose CEO, John May, had been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion. Sir Win, as May’s chairman, wanted to be at the ceremony to say a few words, but business travel prevented him. A maximum of 10 of these awards are presented each year to people in the UK who have played “an outstanding and significant role in promoting enterprise skills and attitudes in others”. Diary permitting, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II hands them out personally, but on this occasion, she too was represented by someone else, in her case the lord lieutenant of Greater London.
Lord lieutenants are HM’s personal representatives. Since she is a busy woman, she has one for each county. Greater London is the county that covers everywhere in London other than the square mile known as the City, where the lord mayor does the honours. The current lord lieutenant of Greater London, Sir David Brewer, was the lord mayor of the City of London in 2005-2006, so he knows what the form is when it comes to representing HM.
Now, an admission. I am a fan of Sir David Brewer. And not just because he lists chocolate as one of his interests in Who’s Who. Long before he was lord mayor, or even knighted, he was a loyal reader of this column. He has even been known to recycle my jokes in his speeches. And in a final display of compatibility, he revealed to me recently that he and his wife are longtime supporters and customers of the jewellery designer Cassandra Goad (whose website I advised Mr M to visit before Christmas).
So there we were, both representing someone else. I was representing someone who chairs a bank that employs more than 350,000 people and operates in more than 100 countries, and he was representing our monarch. I did wonder which of us was representing the more influential person, but I didn’t dwell on this for long. I was more concerned about how Sir David Brewer, CMG, JP, had managed to make it to the 35th floor of a bank in Canary Wharf while wearing spurs and carrying a sword. Only in the UK, dear reader … On Wall Street, he wouldn’t have made it past the security guards.
John May, one of the most professional charity CEOs I have come across, was a worthy recipient of the award. It was a pleasure to represent Sir Win Bischoff and read his speech praising May’s achievements.
Sir Win represented someone himself on New Year’s day: he was the guest editor of Today, the much-listened-to morning show on BBC Radio 4. Usually I am a devoted listener and would have heard it by default, but as I spent New Year’s day on the shores of Port Stephens, I had to go to great lengths to hear him. I signed up for wireless access (cost: A$15) and then launched the BBC website, all the while in bathing suit and towel, a lot more comfortable than spurs and sword but equally inappropriate for Canary Wharf.
Representation is alive and well in Australia, too. The governor general of Australia (reader test: name her) and the governor of each state are HM’s representatives, although I am not sure if they are required to perform their duties while wearing spurs and a sword. And while I have been here, 11 men in green caps have been representing their country, playing Test cricket against South Africa. They have done the most dismal job imaginable. In July they will be in London, representing their country against England. I hope they do just as dismal a job then.”