A Couple Of Gresham Lectures To Enhance My “Tudor Guitar” Knowledge, 17 January and 7 February 2018

I felt a little foolish at the end of the Gresham Society soiree in December, when Professor Cox asked me, after seeing my Renaissance guitar and vocal performance of Innsbruck – reported here and below, why he hadn’t seen me at Christopher Page’s lectures on 16th and 17th Century guitar…

Gresham Society Soirée, Barnards Inn Hall, 14 December 2017

…the answer, quite simply, was that I hadn’t even noticed that they were happening. I know I’m supposed to be finding more time for the things I want to do now, but I hadn’t even skimmed the Gresham College lecture list for the 2017/18 year.

Of course, one of the many wonderful things about Gresham College these days is that the lectures are all archived on-line, including in video form.

So over Christmas I caught up with Christopher Page’s series, by watching the first two lectures on-line.

You can find the whole series here – to the extent that it has already been delivered and uploaded by the date when you click through.

I found both lectures absolutely fascinating. I was particularly taken with the notion, which Christopher Page stated very clearly in the first of the lectures, that the Tudor guitar was, to all intents and purposes, a baritone ukulele; i.e. “my” instrument.

I learnt a lot watching those two lectures and/but I realised that such lectures, with live performance included, would be far more stimulating and enjoyable live…

…especially in the beautiful setting of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate

…which is, after all, within even easier reach of the Z/Yen offices than Gresham College itself (by a few hundred yards).

So I booked out the remaining four dates in my diary and resolved to try my very hardest to organise my City working days around those slots.

I’m glad to report that my plan worked for lectures three and four.

17 January 2018 – The Guitar in the Age of Charles I

This was a wonderful lecture, not least for the diversity of the performances that peppered the lecture. Not only several different stringed instruments – the period covers the transition from four-course gittern-type Tudor instruments to five-course Baroque guitars of the Spanish variety – but also some performance with castanets which was a very pleasant surprise and addition. Christopher Page himself played a bit during this lecture.

So I commend the YouTube below if you can spare the time to watch it – most enjoyable as well as informative:

This link to the Gresham College site itself – click here – not only has the video but also the transcripts and audio file.

I picked up a few ideas for my playing at this lecture, not least realising that even I can muck around with the later Folia progression.

A charming lady sat next to me during this lecture – a visitor from Canada – who was strolling the City – had never heard of Gresham College and had simply wandered in having seen the sign outside the church. She was absolutely transfixed by the lecture and the whole idea of Gresham College. She chatted for a while with me, Professor Francis Cox and Frieda after the lecture; it turned out she was also named Francis.

7 February 2018 – An Englishman (with a Guitar) Abroad

I actually did a slightly better job of organising my work around this day, but that did mean that I really was squeezing in the lectures time slot, but still I was able to get to the church in time to grab a decent seat.

At the time of writing (9 February 2018) the video has not yet been uploaded, but the other resources are there and the lecture will go up in full eventually I am sure – click here for the available resources.

Ulrich Wedemeier – the sole performer for this lecture

Again the lecture and the performances were fascinating and interesting.

My fun takeaway from this lecture was a vignette about Charles Stuart (soon to become Charles II) spending 50 livres to transport one guitar and 18 tennis rackets from France to England (presumably in expectation of the Restoration).

Click here for a link to the relevant page in Christopher Page’s book.

This possibly says something about Charles’s relative levels of interest in those two hobbies, but probably says more about his relative playing styles and the fact that broken tennis rackets cannot be repaired in quite the same way that guitars can be restored.

It brought to mind one of my favourite pictures from a busy day a year or so ago when I indulged both hobbies on the same day:

Packing it all in; real tennis and 16th/17th century guitar jam – did Charles Stuart’s consignment look anything like this?

An Unusually Busy Day With Tennis, Middlesex/Saracens and DJ Jamming Session, 9 May 2017

The rest of that day was littered with early music coincidences, which took me back thirty years and involved the Hilliard Ensemble and even Christopher Page’s Gothic Voices project too. Truly weird. Watch this space for a retroblog piece on’t.

Gresham Society AGM and Dinner, National Liberal Club, 4 February 2016

A convivial evening at the National Liberal Club; the Gresham Society AGM and dinner. Michael Mainelli said he was going to miss not only the pre-AGM drinks but even the AGM, so suggested that I leave the office ahead of him.  But by the time I had got there and made his excuses to everyone, he arrived; a good 5-10 minutes before the AGM started.

In the hands of Tim Connell, an AGM is neither painful nor lengthy. So there was time for more chat between the AGM and dinner. Several people were complimentary about my maiden baritone ukulele performance at December’s Gresham Society soiree, which certainly made me feel good at the end of a long day.

I sat next to Elisabeth Mainelli on one side and Noel-Ann Bradshaw from the University of Greenwich on the other side, which made very pleasant company; indeed at Gresham Society functions, pleasant company is more or less guaranteed.

The speaker was Michael Binyon, whose tales of derring-do as foreign correspondent for the times didn’t quite match Boot of The Beast (Scoop is one of my favourite novels) but raised several laughs none-the-less. A memorable tale about Messrs Foot and Healey meeting Brezhnev sticks in my mind, as does the problem of dictation down the phone line which led to the reporting of “dead sea squirrels”. What a by-gone era story that makes, although it occurred within living memory).

No doubt Michael Binyon had to dodge a bullet or two as a correspondent, but he struggled to dodge a “question-bullet” about the Times pay-wall, claiming that the iPad version of the Times is making money now.  As the economists, accountants and operational researchers on our table might put it; that depends on how you count.

I imagine that the merriment continued in the bar long after I sloped away, but at the end of a long day I decided to quit while I was still feeling very much on top.  A most enjoyable evening.





Thomas Gresham Nativity Song, Gresham Society Soiree, 9 December 2015

To Gresham College at Barnard’s Inn Hall, for the biennial Gresham Society soiree.  Those of a musical or light entertainment persuasion put on a short variety show, as the scene-setter for a jolly social. The usual assortment of super people gathered; a mixture of professors, former professors/lecturers and Gresham College enthusiasts.

I wrote a version of “I’m Henery The Eighth I Am”, to describe the events that might have led to Thomas Gresham’s birth and eventual financial heroics. I decided to give my recently-acquired baritone ukulele skills an outing this time, not least because I have recently imported a Roosebeck Baritone Baroq-ulele which certainly looked the part for this “piece”.

This was quite a daunting performance for me – I only took up the baritone ukulele 18 months ago, having eschewed all instruments since the disaster that was my attempt at the violin as a small boy. So this was to be my first performance in front of an audience.

Further, the song I chose did not have any simple chord versions to be found on the web; the chorus of course (a big hit for Herman’s Hermits and Joe Brown before them) but not the verse.

So I needed to work out the chords for myself – see attachment with my hand-written notes.  I wrote “capo 1” all over it, as I chorded it in G but it was originally written (and indeed Herman’s Hermits sang it) in A minor. In the end, though, I sang and played it without the capo, i.e. in G major, as the baroq-ulele was a little quiet for the Barnard’s Inn Hall and my voice copes a little better the deeper I go.

The audience participation elements worked well and I am told the performance was well received. In any case, as the compere Professor Tim Connell put it at the start of one of the other acts that evening, “it’s not all about music tonight”. That was certainly the case for my little rendition.

The text that follows has the original verse and chorus, by Fred Murray and R P Weston, followed by two verses of my own. Shown in the text below the music notes and then further below as viewable JPEGs and also a downloadable PDF.But, as Michael Mainelli said, there’s probably only one music hall in the world that will really appreciate my Thomas Gresham verses for the song; Barnard’s Inn Hall.

♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬ ♬


(Song to the Tune of “I’m Henery The Eighth, I Am”)


You don’t know who you’re looking at, now have a look at me,

I’m a bit of a nob I am, belong to Royaltee;

I’ll tell you how it came about, I married widow Burch,

And I was King of England, when I toddled out of church.

Outside the people started shouting, “Hip hooray”;

Said I, “Get down upon your knees its Coronation Day.”


I’m Henery the eighth I am, Henery the eighth I am, I am

I got married to the widow next door

She’s been married seven times before

Everyone was a Henery (AUDIENCE: Henery)

She wouldn’t have a Willie or a Sam (AUDIENCE: or a Sam) 

I’m her eighth old man named Henery,

I’m Henery the eighth I am.

SECOND VERSE (different from the first; different from the original too)

I’m not so good with money if I’m left upon me own,

So I called my mate, Dick Gresham, who could organize a loan;

I said, “I need the wonga, but I can’t afford the fleece,

Get terms I can afford or else we’ll end up just like Greece”;

Dick planned long finance, so he said, “thy will be done,

Your brood will still need Greshams’ help, I’d better pop a son.”


I’m Henery the eighth I am, Henery the eighth I am,

I am I got married to the widow next door

She’s been married seven times before

Everyone was a Henery (AUDIENCE: Henery)

She wouldn’t have a Willie or a Sam (AUDIENCE: or a Sam) 

I’m her eighth old man named Henery, I’m Henery the eighth I am.

THIRD VERSE (different again!)

So Dick, he had a son named Tom, as smart as smart could be,

And when my Ted went brassic, Tommy saved the currency;

My Mary fared no better, Tommy had to bail her out,

And Liz retained his services, though she was more adroit.

All raise a glass to Tom, without him we’d be poor,

Bad money drives out good, I say, and call it Gresham’s Law.


I’m Henery the eighth I am,

Henery the eighth I am,

I am I got married to the widow next door

She’s been married seven times before

Everyone was a Henery (AUDIENCE: Henery)

She wouldn’t have a Willie or a Sam (AUDIENCE: or a Sam) 

I’m her eighth old man named Henery, I’m Henery the eighth I am. 

H-E-NRY, ‘Enery, (AUDIENCE: ‘Enery) 

‘Enery the Eighth I am, I am, Henery the Eighth I am! 


Gresham Song Page One of TwoGresham Song Page Two of Two

The Thomas Gresham Nativity Song With My Chords and Hand Written chords.

Click here or below for a link to see Harry Champion’s original version of this song.


Changing Money: Communities & Longer Term Finance & You, Ian Harris, Gresham College, Museum Of London, 16 November 2010

This was my second Gresham Lecture (the first was in 2008 – click here).

A larger audience for this one, at the Museum of London; slightly more intimidating feel to the platform too (Barnards Inn Hall sort-of feels like home).

Still, by all accounts it went well. But then people would say that, to me, wouldn’t they? You can judge for yourself, here is a link to all of the resources for the lecture – transcript, slides, the lot.

Or take a look at the Vimeo below if it is just the lecture you are interested in:

Changing Money: Communities, Longer Term Finance and You – Ian Harris – Gresham College lecture from Gresham College on Vimeo.

Guns, pens, cattle, face-painting…all money, of sorts.

After the lecture and post-lecture reception, we decamped to the Bleeding Heart Bistro for dinner.

Commercial Ethics: Process or Outcome?, Gresham Lecture, Barnard’s Inn Hall, 6 November 2008

This was my first Gresham Lecture and by gosh the preparation felt like hard but very interesting work.

A lot of the material from this one ended up in The Price Of Fish.

Here is a link to the lecture – you can watch it, listen to the audio, read the text, download the text, look at the slides, download the slides…

Here’s the Vimeo of it so you can watch from here instead (but for the resources as well, you need to click the above link):

More observant followers of this lecture (e.g. John White) noticed that I strung some lines from songs and stuff through the slides. I made up an iTunes playlist for the lecture – back then, iTunes playlists felt like fun things to try.  Here it is: 

We held a traditional Z/Yen-Gresham reception in the Headmaster’s Study after the lecture. Doubtless someone pointed out my resemblance to the Chandos Portrait of Shakespeare in that room – someone always did. As I explained on Facebook to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death:

After the reception, Michael Mainelli escorted an honoured few of us to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for one of his traditional post lecture meals. Not sure exactly who attended but I do recall Michael, Elisabeth, Kim, Micky, Charlie, Me, Janie and a few others.

A Few Evenings during September 2008, not least 30 September 2008

That time of year, I suppose. A few evenings worth listing.

11 September 2008: Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner – explained in the third entry of the link piece. Here is John random’s tombstone e-mail from that night:

Just like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who came to the 32nd Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner – actually I don’t know if it is the 32nd but we’ve been doing an average of four a year since the year 2000, so it sounds plausible. Those of you who weren’t there, whether in Africa, America, Ireland or some oil-producing nation such as Harpenden you were all sadly missed, You missed a great quiz from Gerry, and the surprise (and welcome) re-appearance of John Cowen. Special guest Neil Watson brought a touch of class to the proceedings.

16 September 2008: Gresham College – one of Michael Mainelli’s very last lectures that “fed” The Price of Fish. This was at Barnard’s Inn Hall. Z/Yen will have sponsored drinks and some of us will have had some grub (almost certainly at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese) afterwards.

23 September 2008: Bill Emmott’s Sir Thomas Gresham Docklands Lecture which was excellent. Followed by a drinks and then a round table discussion/meal at the Four Seasons Docklands.

26 September 2008: Kim, Micky and Charlie dinner, 7:00ish. Sounds like it must have been at Sandall Close; a trawl through Janie’s diary archive will confirm or deny at some stage.

30 September 2008: Stuart Rose lecture at the Royal Opera House. Can’t find an on-line reference but I do recall being there. Something about probity and stuff.