Friday, October 05, 2007

A visit to the Clothmakers


In which I meet a man without a finger and am gifted a teasel

I joined the 'Telegraph Business Club' - a simple on-line business networking group. One day they sent me an invitation to a seminar on 'building your brand' and I thought, hey - that sounds good. So I booked.

It started at 8.15 am in London at the Clothmakers Hall, and that meant a 5.30am rise for me. Ohhh... I don't do 'early' (or 'late') that well. But hey ho, I caught the 6.23 train to Kings Cross and made it to Aldwych in good time. The London rush hour - what fun!

A bit of early networking was engaged upon, but what interested me was the building. The Clothworkers Hall... this was the 6th one! Due to many a disaster (the last being the 2nd world war) the buildings had been demolished or changed until here we stood in building number six. The place looked authentic - lots of wood panelling, a wonderful plaster ceiling, and some interesting historical momentoes in glass cases in the atrium. I saw the melted remains of a champagne bottle from the 5th hall, bombed in the 1940s, and an indenture form from the 18th Century of some young man apprenticed to the trade. The old guilds survive, in their fashion, and its always an interesting slice of history when we get to visit such places.

The seminar itself was great, the speaker from a major computing company the most interesting in my opinion. One part of the seminar was a case study, and as a table we discussed options on how to promote a web business. The opinion on the table was that the proposition wasn't really a flyer, but we still had some good ideas to share. Each table (about 15, plus chairs at the back - a packed house) had a spokesman to deliver their prognosis: ours was a young man called Damien, an Australian. I noticed, as he talked, that he only had three fingers on his left hand. I wondered what story lay behind that.

On the way out (having eaten lunch and done some appropriate networking), I stopped and said to the concierge how I had enjoyed visiting the hall. He handed me a teasel head - the prickly seed head of a common british weed I suppose. But in the display cabinets I had seen the teasels bound together to form a brush, an original way of 'teasing' the cloth to give it 'fluff'. I don't know the technicalities - but now I have my own teasel head to remember this visit by.
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