As impossible as it seems after the pandemonium of a pandemic, June is upon us and, with it, the hope of brighter skies. We all naturally look forward to vacations even if they are the stay-cation variety. Time with family and friends has never felt more precious. How true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.Read More
The one-year anniversary of the first UK lockdown brought anniversaries to my mind. Usually these have a happy reference. Typically, we remember a wedding or another memorable date we wish to celebrate. …Read More
With Carnival, I began to think about masks. I only wish that we could still associate them with the glamorous Venetian variety that stirs a frisson of mystery. But sadly, due to the pandemic, we are growing accustomed to a new mask. This version forces us, even in rare lockdown encounters, to assess each other without the benefit of a facial expression, now covered. No, it is down to the eyes. I wondered are they helping us view into souls as Shakespeare had us believe?Read More
2021 is dawning but with it 2020 shadows persist. We worry for our health. We question will “normality” ever return. Simple pleasures we took for granted are coveted with a sweet misty-eyed nostalgia. But I have long understood that for my personality Work Don’t Worry is the best antidote to my feeling anxious. So I thought let me use this message to share some guidelines that help me when I am overwhelmed – a common state these days!
In December 2019, I was recognised with the Freedom of the City of London. During a ceremony in Guildhall within the famed Square Mile, with humility and wonder I swore an oath at the Chamberlain’s Court. Many of you may know this distinction from its apocryphal ancient privileges such as the right of Freemen (or in my case Free Sister) to drive their sheep or cattle over London Bridge, assuming I had them. Should it ever be deemed I be hanged, my neck is entitled to a silken rope. And, if found inebriated (after all, the informal “drunk” will not do) within the City, police are obligated to bundle me into a taxi home rather than confine me to a cell. Interestingly, when my brother heard this perk, he immediately queried was the privilege transferable?
Pertinent to my message today, Freemen are presented with a book entitled “Rules for the Conduct of Life.” First published in 1740, it is a guide to a shared set of values and ethics. Amongst these is Rule XIX advising “Lead not an idle life but be constantly employed in some honest business, whereby you may do good both to yourself and others.” News of yet another national lockdown curtailing our activities found me stymied if this recommendation could be fulfilled?
Fear not – the KCWC Board and Activity Leaders instinctively understand this Freemen maxim and have worked hard to keep every member engaged and a stranger to idleness. The activities and Speaker Series meetings enumerated in our website for Winter/Spring 2021 make slothful days an impossibility. Against all odds we have organised lectures in Art History along with Contemporary Art, Design and Music, Book Groups and Language Classes to fill your hours. We continue to profile prominent leaders in our monthly Speaker Series discussing topical issues. Even our pets are kept busy thanks to our new AL Philippa Copleston organising Bark in the Park.
While I realise we are still “mingling” virtually, here is where another Rule for the Conduct of Life applies: Rule VIII “Arm yourself with a strict and firm resolution. Reason is the rudder wherewith you are to steer your course but resolution is the wind that will set you forward without which your sails will often flag.” Who among us cannot admit to feeling a serious flagging mood absent from our friends? But if we resolve to make the best of the worst of situations – a global pandemic frightening us all – we can experience a great pressure release and enjoy a buoyed spirit.
Even with these tenets as guiding axioms, I admit a spontaneous coffee or lunch seems as ancient and elusive as my Free Sister perks. But as Rule VIII counsels, I resolve that “this will pass” and it will be with far more appreciation that I enjoy my friends when next we really mingle. Till then I invite you to join me – and all our KCWC friends only a computer screen away – to transform these lockdown months from inertia to activity. Enhance your life with all that KCWC has to offer. It will be the path by which we can together pursue Rule VII: Live Well and Conduct a Good Life.Read More
“Here we go a wassailing …..” Despite this being one of my favourite holiday carols in the English tradition, I confess to always wondering what is wassailing?! Well guess what – it is a tradition of going from house to house singing carols and drinking plentiful amounts of alcohol along the way. So, in the prism we have come to measure every activity these days – Covid appropriate socially distanced behaviour – I am thinking this does not qualify. Hard to sing with a mask even though the alcohol I admit holds some allure! Who among us is not facing the holiday season with some bit of cheerlessness, anxiety, and just overall exhaustion. What a year this has been.
But I still believe there can be Joy and indeed an obligation to try to provide and share some. You, our KCWC members, are a great gift with your support and friendship. So nothing less than a hot line to my elves was necessary to arrange some revelry. And before you say “but it is not in person“, I sort of already get that drawback. KCWC Activity Leaders may be fabulously inventive and diligent, but we can’t sprinkle our fairy dust on Covid wishing it away or convince the government it is safe to assemble. But I miss you and would rather visit virtually than cloister like an Abbess. (Besides, I could never take a vow of silence even as my handwriting does lend itself to scriptorium duties.) So let’s all rejoice in the season and enjoy these treats:
Friday 4 December Speaker Series General Meeting – a bonus from our schedule last year now reinstated. We welcome Francesca Cartier Brickell speaking on Cartier jewellery history. Baubles are certainly part of the season. And few sparkle as much as Cartier.
Thursday 10 December you are invited to a KCWC Special Holiday event: a Seasonal Smorgasbord of Festive Feasting. Log in for lunch with your friends enjoying a custom made exclusive Fortnum and Mason hamperling. Then tune in for a Holiday lights tour and afternoon tea. You can wassail along for a cocktail hour Christmas drink at 17:00.
Midwinter need not be bleak. KCWC has a lot of seasonal cheer extending right into January 2021. From wherever you may hail or whomever you may be missing at the holidays, you have a home in and a friend at KCWC.
Mary Narvell / KCWC President
Colder temps are upon us. Nights draw in earlier than we would like. Autumn is settling us into our routines even with the threat that Covid 19 might alter things again and make us even more housebound. But, if this isolation should happen, it needn’t lead to a bleak midwinter. As ever, KCWC volunteers are doing their best to keep our membership entertained.Read More
President’s Message September 2020
Change is afoot at KCWC and not just because of the pandemic. The onset of late summer and early Autumn bring with it a newly elected Board and President. May I thank all who retired, greet the new volunteers, and express special gratitude to past President Theresa Klassen who remains as VP. May I also introduce myself to all our members and those international women who might be viewing our beautiful new website and considering joining KCWC. We are ready to welcome you and share with you all that London has to offer. Covid 19 will not dim our desire to highlight what lies behind London doors nor stifle our determination to offer the best of any London women’s club.
Please forgive my indulgence of choosing a photo of myself as a toddler many scores ago. It shows my mother holding me on the Manhattan dock as the SS Cristoforo Colombo left with my grandparents aboard returning to their native Italy. The image is really meant to underscore a core of my personality that I think perfectly matches the KCWC mindset – perpetual curiosity and enthusiasm to reach for and explore what lies beyond the horizon. Our members are well travelled women who have come orreturned to London as part of some ongoing adventure, or who have resided here all their lives but always looked beyond the UK. So too I who left the United States for sojourns in Belgium, Bermuda, Switzerland and, now for the last 20 years, a London resident. Even as a child, I yearned to reverse my grandparents’ US journey and live in Europe. The varieties of cultural experience, the history, the politics fascinated me. My membership and service to KCWC as an Activity Leader, Board Member, and now returning President nurtured me by enhancing my British escapade. I am determined the same be true for loyal and new members alike.To that end, KCWC evolves while returning to some basics that reliably ensured our excellence for over three decades. Our programme of speakers is set thru June and reflects the variety of topical interests of our membership – Business, History, Charity, the Arts and Culture, Politics, Sociology, Nature, and the Royal Family. Our committees have worked hard to recruit experts to address our meetings alerting them: Be prepared for the challenging questions for which our audience of informed womenis renown. We look forward to season kick-off Tuesday September 15 via Zoom with City Banker Marisa Drew. Your Zoom code will arrive by eNews.Our Activity Leaders have carefully organised events with the health and safety of our members the priority. We will offer a hybrid of virtual activities and in person lectures. And we are working hard to solve the riddle of “socially distanced social get-togethers” such as After Six and Hospitality Lunches. Our first in person General Meeting Speaker Series Thursday October 8 will host the 9th Earl Spencer at the Royal Geographical Society where superlative safety efforts are in place. KCWC members will pass a thermometer screening, pursue a one-way traffic pattern, sit apart in the lecture theatre, as well as experience heightened sanitizing measures for catering and in the WCs. Still even all these precautions cannot guarantee infection levels will allow us to assemble. Another lockdown will mean we need to beg your patience. While we are doing our best to plan for every occurrence at every activity and event, circumstances will likely arise that yield disappointing postponements. Also, please be aware our KCWC insurer does not cover our members against Covid risks. Our sole obligation is to follow government guidelines. Should any of us contract (or believe we contracted) the Coronavirus at a KCWC event, the Club cannot be held responsible or underwrite our members. As is now the norm everywhere, every individual assumes her own risk.I look ahead with optimism, energy, and my customary inquisitive zeal. Our KCWC members inspire me every day to reach for and deliver the excellence they deserve. I know you echo my indebtedness to all our volunteers who work so hard on your behalf. Thank you.
Mary NarvellPresident KCWCpresident@kcwc.org.ukRead More
During these challenging and unprecedented times, my sincerest wish is that you and your families are healthy and coping as best as possible. This crisis has introduced many challenges including how we best communicate while self-isolating, working from home and practicing social distancing.
It is extremely rewarding to see so many people look to kcwc as a forum to socialise and learn new ways to connect with each other, while also staying within the guidelines that the UK government has outlined. I am not sure about you, but until the Coronavirus I had not heard about Zoom or the ability to host a meeting online. Zoom has also given us the opportunity for our Activity Leaders to continue to offer exclusive activities and stay in touch with our members. I am pleased to say that since the lockdown began and until next week in early May, the club has offered approximately 15 virtual activities and lectures to our membership and there’s more to come, so please make sure you check the kcwc website regularly. Well done everyone!
As evidence of the creativity and ingenuity of our dedicated volunteers, I have included some screen shots below that have been sent in for our picture gallery on the website. If you have activities going forward we would love to see your screen shots and share them with our fellow members.
At this point in time, I would l like to take a moment to thank all the board members, volunteers and Activity Leaders who have been flexible and creative by thinking outside the box to host activities for our members. It is remarkable to see and it warms my heart to see everyone pull together to keep the club going.
Our new website is almost ready to be launched. If all goes as planned, it will be rolled out within the next few weeks, so stay tuned. We will be setting up virtual training sessions on how to navigate the site; I am sure you will find it to be very user friendly and a material new asset for our club.
Unfortunately, we will be cancelling our May Speaker Series at the Royal Geographical Society due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Our planned speaker was Kate Stephens, CEO of Smartworks and we are considering rescheduling Kate for a future meeting or setting up a question and answer session on Zoom at a date most convenient for our membership.
The June meeting at the RGS currently looks unlikely as well, but I would like to confirm this with everyone once we get closer to the date.
I think that is it for me. I miss you all and look forward to seeing you soon.
Please stay healthy and do not forget to “Social Distance” and hopefully this will be behind us soon.
Our Photo Gallery can be found here: https://www.kcwc.org.uk/photo-gallery-2019-20
All the best,