Last week I was arrested by City of London Police at Mansion House, brought in front of the Sheriffs and convicted of the heinous crime of Perjury. I was then taken off to the Tower of London and marched into the Tower by the Yeomen of the Guard and incarcerated in the Regimental Headquarters of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers where I was finger printed and fed on bread and water. If I wanted bail I had to raise the minimum sum of £1000 before being released.
All of this was in aid of the Red Cross. I was invited by the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress to take part in the annual British Red Cross ‘Jailed & Bailed’ event along with fellow Masters, Wardens, Presidents and Aldermen. This year was the thirteenth ‘Jailed & Bailed’ in which 203 normally upstanding members of the City of London had previously been arrested for heinous crimes. These have included falsely impersonating Robin Hood, concealing 3ft pokers and the very public misdemeanour which brought the 2012 Lord Mayor’s Show to a grinding halt.
26 of us gathered at Mansion House, including three Aldermen and 20 Masters. We were given innocent teas and coffees before there was a great noise, police whistles were blown and the Sheriffs burst in. The Aldermanic Sheriff Charles Bowman was wearing a judge’s wig and, while his colleague Sheriff Christine Rigden called each of us before him, he then in the best deadpan manner read out the charge sheet for each of us before sending us off to the Tower.
It turned out that on this day Wednesday 29th June, 2016 application on oath was made by The City of London Police for this issue of a Warrant for 26 named individuals on the grounds that said individuals in question had been up to a number of despicable acts unbefitting of persons of their standing. Authority had been given to any official of the City Police for the purposes of affecting the arrests on the day of Wednesday 29th June 2016
The charge sheet included
· Cornering the market in Christmas puddings
· Losing his trousers
· Becoming a member of the infamous institution, the Garrick Club
· Extending the Northern Line
· Serving up the school dinner nightmare suet pudding
· Being laid back and arriving late for one’s own election as Master
· Excess consumption of wine (this was a widespread offence)
· Being averse to housework (I think this charge sheet was written by the Mistress)
· Planning to marry an American the next Saturday
· Singlehandedly causing climate change through driving of oversized 4X4 Range Rovers
My own offence? I had committed Perjury by writing my book The 20 Ps of Marketing and failing to record a 21st P, that of Perplexing people. An example of Perplexing advertising was used in evidence against me. This showed a contraption that had miniature umbrellas attached to shoes to keep them dry. Perplexing, indeed. I protested that I could have come up with 40 Ps if necessary. Sheriff Bowman commented that at least that was honest of me but nevertheless issued the command to take me away.
Once all the felons were convicted we had to line up in single file while a ball and chain was fitted to our arms. We were then photographed for the record and then taken by taxi off to the Tower. Normally a vintage bus is used but I think the rain made them change their plans. Of course getting taxis in the rain for 30-odd people is not that easy and so we arrived in dribs and drabs. I was in the first taxi which meant we had the dubious pleasure of waiting in the rain outside the entrance to the Tower, wearing our robes and chains, carrying our ball and other chain while hordes of tourists, mainly school parties looked at us agog.
Countless photographs were taken including not a few selfies and I am confident that these have been emblazoned all over Facebook and Tweeted far and wide.
When everyone had arrived we were again lined up, this time in double file, and marched up into the Tower by the Yeomen of the Guard. The captain brought up the rear and made sure that all and sundry knew of our despicable felonies and that we were going to be banged up to rights on a strict diet of bread and water. When we started to complain we were ordered not to talk and more calumnies fell about our ears.
But once inside the Fusiliers’ HQ we were offered silver goblets with the most delicious ‘water’, otherwise known as Pol Roger champagne. The event is sponsored by Pol Roger and their UK Managing Director was among the convicted. We sat down to eat our bread which turned out to be a sumptuous venison pie. This was followed by tasty desserts, the whole washed down with copious Pol Roger ‘water’. It really did seem to taste better out of the silver goblets.
After lunch we had to raise the bail. Most of us had already organised this and our Trust annually underwrites the bail while individuals may seek to add something to that through their own fund raising efforts. One or two less forewarned Masters could be heard whispering into their mobile phones to raise the money.
Each of us was fingerprinted, photographed with two Beefeaters, and then released on payment of bail. Collectively we had raised over £36,000 for the British Red Cross bringing the cumulative total over thirteen years to over £430,000.
It was a somewhat unusual, but extremely enjoyable day. And I have a soft spot for the Red Cross as my wife is the Treasurer of our local branch.