June 27, 2014

A curious thing occurred last week. There may have been more than one actually, but the curious occurrence Bankstone News has in mind occurred when a press release announcing the elevation of Graham “Dickie” Dickinson of DWF, the law firm with a reputation for service excellence and effective operational management, to the mysterious and secretive role of Master within the Worshipful Company of Insurers was issued and then almost immediately retracted by top City PR firm FKD.

How had this come about, what could it mean, and was Dickie or wasn’t he the secretive organisation’s new Master? Such were the questions preoccupying confused journalists (the perfect example being Andrew Numan of Insurance People). Some said he was. Others that he wasn’t. You’ll probably know by now, Dear Reader, assuming you care, but one thing seemed abundantly clear as journos fielded telephone requests to remove early coverage of the story from their online editions: something queer was afoot.

A spokesbeing from the mysterious and enigmatic Worshipful Company hinted darkly that Mr Dickinson’s nomination to the role of Master stood a good chance of acceptance, but had yet to be fully sat upon by various councils, courts, committees, enclaves and conclaves, and hence was, as yet, unfit to be bruited about the land. Was there some kind of hitch?, doubters wondered. Might someone have discovered that Dickie is actually a lawyer not an insurer? Might he have been found in some way wanting in worshipfulness? Nobody was letting on.

Not for the first time, the wilfully obscure machinations of this mysterious and enigmatic order appear to have thoroughly baffled the uninitiated herd. The origins of the “Company” are shrouded in the mists of ancient historical mystery, but it is thought to date back to the dark days of the late 1970s, the heyday of the City of London’s Guilds, when a cadre of insurance industry insiders banded together to create a secretive and enigmatic organisation dedicated to charity, booze-ups, and certain other aims its members are forbidden, on pain of death, to reveal to outsiders.

Such guilds or livery companies (so called on account of the reddish brown tabards commonly worn by City artisans back in those days – a drab form of garb that soon gave way to multicoloured breeches, elaborately slashed and beribboned doublets, and lush velour over-jerkins – each in the distinctive colour scheme of the “company” in question: scarlet for Mercers, green for Grocers, claret and blue for Painter-Stainers and, of course, grey for Insurers.

Exactly what goes on within the hallowed halls of the Worshipful Company of Insurers lodge remains almost as much of a mystery today as in those far off days of yore. The only externally visible sign of their presence is a plaque on the wall outside the mysterious “Insurance Hall” (the premises it shares with the completely-above-board CII) bearing the unmistakable heraldic coat of arms accorded to the company by the Garter Principal King of Arse back in 1980.

These, of course, consist of a cross agent bent sinisterly atop a pair of scales the same athwart a drag anchor enfilled with a coq d’argent this last enflamed with diverse pomlets chevronwise supported by a brace of lions bandant topped with a blackcurrant jus and served on a bed of the moto “Omnium Defensor” (deny everything).

What does any of that mean? Better you don’t ask! Better still you don’t refer to a French dictionary. You might be disturbed at what you find.

Perhaps it’s better that the next Master’s true identity – and, for that matter, those of all its wardens, freemen, adepts, and livery men, should never be known.

Rather like that of the present incumbent, Bronek Masojada (is that how you say it?)

roger_delgado


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