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Unaccustomed as I am

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.”

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