Metropolitan Mess Officers Lunch
W Bro Richard Cavanagh reports
On Thursday 21st March, members of the Metropolitan Mess gathered for the latest of their twice-yearly Mess at the Leonardo Royal Hotel near the Tower of London. Situated by Tower Hill, infamous for its “off with yer head” exploits of one Jack Ketch (head executioner from a bygone era), over one hundred Freemasons partook in a free-flowing pre-luncheon champaign reception, where to a man, we all amazingly managed to keep our heads (just about).
Upon the ringing of the luncheon bell, we returned our empty champaign flutes and staggered one by one into the main dining hall, desperately trying to get our sea legs back as the parquet patterned floor pitched and rolled beneath us. By God, that champagne had a kick.
As one can expect from a Met Mess Officers luncheon, the setting was resplendent and a testament to the hard work the MetGL Events Team put into finding venues for us to dine and, after encircling the tables of bread rolls like a flock of ravenous sea gulls, we found our name cards and sat down to an excellent 3 course meal.
The event was presided over by Met Mess stalwart, W Bro John Parry PSGD Metropolitan Grand Inspector, who introduced Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master, RW Bro Christopher Hayward, to the stage to welcome everyone in person. After the interruption of Covid restrictions, RW Bro Christopher said it was finally a pleasure to address an audience without someone saying “Brother, you are on mute”.
In between courses, members of the Met Golf Society took to the stage to present a large donation of £1,600, gratefully received by RW Bro Christopher. To the cheers of the assembled masses, our club swinging heroes left the metaphorical green of the hall’s main stage and made their way back to their table (or equally metaphorical 19th hole), each helping the other into a pristine green blazer (the champagne had gone to their heads), before sitting down to their main course, where they surveyed their meal before having a chat with their caddy about which knife to choose.
To keep the golf metaphors coming, our original guest speaker was stuck somewhere in the rough looking for his ball, having unfortunately (and unavoidably) been unable to attend the lunch at the very last minute. Thank goodness then for the extensive Met Mess contact book, which was put to extremely quick and good use in finding a replacement speaker with less than two hours’ notice. Our own ever-reliable caddy, John Parry, was able to pull out the brilliant Prof Adrian Furnham of University College London from his own metaphorical golf bag of tricks, who presented a thoroughly informative and immensely funny lecture on the psychology of money. Replacing the original four iron with an (economic) driver. That was another little golfing joke – I’ll stop now before the editor revokes my Arena press card.
Prof Adam Furnam is a renowned professor of psychology, author and academic. He has a Doctorate from Oxford University and has contributed toward academic research within the field of psychology, exploring topics within applied, economic, health, occupational, social, and differential psychology. As of 2018, Prof Furnham has published 92 books and over 1,200 peer-reviewed journal articles. Today he was studying 100 dumbstruck Freemasons; but, despite being stuck with an audience who can’t spell psychology without using Google (and I just did), he proceeded to have us in the palm of his hand for 30 riveting minutes. A delight to behold, Prof Furnham delivered his speech with verve and enthusiasm, challenging our own individual preconceived ideas on how we view, or are conditioned, to view money and its importance and motivational drive to us as individuals. A deep intellectual psychological analysis of our relationship with money delivered with the comedic wit of a stand-up comic and received with much laughter from an enthralled and interested audience. Still, securing an eminent UCL professor at the last minute did make me wonder if there was a less than enthralled seminar group of post-graduate students wondering where he was. I was imagining a hastily scrawled note on their class-room door reading “Gone to lunch. Read Chapter 5 on The Psychology of Behaviour at Work.”
After three excellent courses of food and congenial company, we left the splendour of the Leonardo dining hall, our cloak room tickets in hand as we ran to avoid the queues. The older members might be slower, but they still know how to trip the runners on their heels and get a crafty elbow in. I got my coat, but I had to fight hard. Some of these boys did National Service, you know. Back in hall, W Bro Parry had been left to pick up the bill, his pen poised over his Midland Bank cheque book; whereupon he was informed the Leonardo doesn’t take cheques and the Midland Bank closed in the 1990s. He was last seen being accompanied by two very large bell boys into the Manager’s Officer.
If you would like to know more about the Metropolitan Officers Mess, then keep reading (if you are still reading). The Mess convenes just twice a year, once for a spring-time luncheon and then a dinner in the autumn. Membership is just £10 and is open to all Metropolitan Officers, present and former, as well as Senior Visiting and Visiting Officers. Alternatively, volunteer to write for Arena, and we might send you there to cover the next one.
The amazing list of guest speakers has ranged from Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose – UNPROFOR, Sir Christopher Meyer – UK Ambassador to the USA, Michael Portillo – former MP, Cabinet Minister and broadcaster, to the late Jimmy Greaves, former England International footballer.
and organiser of the Mess, said, “It gives Met Mess members the unique opportunity to dine and chat with our most senior masons, friends and colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere, be entertained by a wonderful range of speakers, but above all to have some great fun.”
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 49 August 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 49 here.