Here I am in Stationers’ Hall, one of the beautiful old Guild Halls in the City of London, on the evening of the Cobbett Medal presentation.
It was a slightly dreamlike experience, to be ushered into a solemn and formal room in which the ‘Court’ of the Worshipful Company of Musicians was gathered, each person in robes, furs and chains of office as appropriate. The members of the Court were arrayed around three sides of the room. They stood and applauded while a beadle, complete with sceptre, led me across the room to where the Master of the Company was waiting at the far end to present the medal.
He said a few kind words and I replied with a few words of thanks, but as is usual for me on such occasions, I found afterwards that I had almost no recollection of what was said. The sense of ceremony made everything feel unreal – agreeably unreal, but hard to grasp. It was a little like suddenly finding oneself flung into the middle of a scene in The Magic Flute.