Mike Nattrass MEP at the Mansion House.
Reply for the Guests 19th Nov 2010
More than 350 present including the Lord Mayor and Jeffrey Archer!
Master, Wardens, My Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, Lords, Ladies, Honoured Guests, Liverymen, Freemen, Apprentices, Mesdames et Messieurs, the massed choirs of the Mansion House.... and fellow overpaid Members of the European Parliament.
I have known the Master for 34 years and attended here, in this magnificent Mansion House as his guest, for 23. A splendid fellow and good friend, but also an off the wall practical joker, owning more than 40 Renault Alpines. I am therefore surprised, having been antagonised by him for 34 years, to be chosen to preserve HIS reputation in the Cooper's Company. I cannot remember when the Master has ever spared ME from embarrassment.
Before accepting the honour of replying for the guests I was made to promise, UNDER DURESS, not to mention the war, the EU, politics or anything anti Renault. I love the French, my sister in law is French, but I will not be forced into praising 40 Renaults.
As a Yorkshireman I am banned from saying "'E' you must be joking."so I won't mention "EU ... must be joking"
Yorkshiremen produce great hangmen but poor diplomats and get thrown out of Livery dinners for making speeches. Great traditions.
Below us are 11 cells, an incentive to comply with the Master's instructions. One is reserved for women and nicknamed "The Bird Cage" where Emmeline Pankhurst was imprisoned for speaking the truth and challenging the establishment. Bless her.
The Master insists I confine my speech to historical landmarks... on this day in 1967 The Beatles released "Magical Mystery Tour
and on 19th November 2009 Herman van Rompuy was chosen at an informal EU meeting, to earn more than Obama as YOUR President, UKIP know him as "Rumpy Pumpy," violating EU labelling regulations, owing to his self inflicted charisma by-pass.... however this week he said "We are in a survival crisis ... if we do not survive in the Eurozone we will not survive with the EU" if that is HIS EU exit strategy, he will be in my top 5 Belgians... can you name the other four?
And Today, the 19th, The Worshipful Company of Coopers' Annual Livery Banquet takes place in this elegant banqueting hall, with barrel roof, not the kind made by the Coopers.
This hall whispers, even shouts, English history and pride. I love this place. The hairs on the back of my neck rise as it tells me of Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson's fleet had been steadfastly practicing gunnery .... the ordinary English Jack Tars had turned fast cannon fire into a fine art. This was occurring whilst the numerically superior Combined French and Spanish Fleet were in the port of Cadiz, eagerly drinking and earnestly whoring.
Nelson's amazing tactical skill was enhanced at Trafalgar by ordinary English seadogs rapidly giving all barrels, not the kind made by Coopers.
However Trafalgar WAS assisted by the French Coopers. Their product had been delivered to the Continental Fleet in Cadiz fully filled and readily consumed WITH local tarts. These same traditions are practiced at the EU Parliament in Brussels to this day.
So without French Coopers, and Continental debauchery back in 1805, we would have been in the EU for 205 years. After the battle Nelson's body, preserved in brandy, was transported in a Cooper's Barrel to Gibraltar. This crafted Cooper's product contained one of England's finest sons and the greatest exponent of the craft of Naval tactics. At Gibraltar those Jolly Jack Tars drank the brandy in which Nelson's body had been transported, just as we have in previous years drunk brandy here ... but with less body.
I wonder if they will drink rum or brandy on the French/British aircraft carriers?
Continuing the EU theme, which I clearly am not!... MEPs are generally allowed one minute to speak, and then are cut off, unless welcoming Napoleonic legislation, now comprising 75% of UK Law, promising to increase the £45m a day UK contribution, praising the unelected President and Commission or welcoming the EU audit which has failed for the 16th consecutive year, with 4 BILLION missing, including payments to farms in Spain which do not exist and a subsidy to the "Smelly foot dance"... yes they hotfooted off with the cash... and yes UKIP MEPs get cut off.
Speeches are translated into about 37 languages in writing, 20 instantly. Gaelic Irish was adopted and I was booed for asking "Why pay 1.3m a year to translate for one man, when he speaks perfect English?
Outside five Germans stopped me with "Why are you against the Irish," I replied "I am not against the Irish, I AM one eighth Irish, but I was born in Yorkshire and they don't translate into Yorkshire do they?" One jeered "You speak English in Yorkshire" I said ....
"We're reet darn in't cellaroil where't muck slarts on twinders, we've yussed up us coil an we're reet darn tut cinders, when bum bailiff coms ayl niver fin-dus. Cos we're reet down in't celleroil where't muck slarts on't winders. Translate that into Latvian" and I walked away.
An amiable Frenchman used his minute to advertise Normandy. Over the headphones my English translation was as follows. "I come from Normandy, where we have the glorious Norman beaches, the Norman sea,the Norman orchards where the excellent Norman apples are transformed into barrels of Norman Calvados. And in the Norman Universities we have Norman Wisdom..... laughter broke out from the English. The Germans looked bewildered and the French speaker was offended that his Norman Wisdom was being laughed at..... Here I would like to pay respect to Norman Wisdom who died THIS YEAR aged 95 ,a great son of this City, as was Tommy Cooper, they were both a barrel of laughs, the kind appreciated by Coopers.
We guests are in admiration of the Coopers charitable works, including the school and rehabilitation of ex-servicemen. Practical evidence that the Coopers’ Company, mentioned in the 12th century, is relevant today.
On behalf of the guests I thank the Coopers Company, who received the Royal Charter in 1501, for sharing this evening some of their traditions, for the good vibrations of this magnificent building the home of our Lord Mayor and for the perfect hospitality of the Coopers Company.
We guests trust that you will continue to defend and guard the Cooper's traditions with the pride they truly deserve.It is now my very great pleasure, Master, to propose the toast...... The Worshipful Company of Coopers root and branch and may it continue to flourish for ever.