Lord St John of Fawsley was on his usual good form at the presentation ceremony for his Royal Fine Art Commission Education Trust Awards, held at the Savoy last week. Inviting those assembled into lunch, he announced that there were only seating reservations for those who were either extremely eminent or extremely infirm.
'Some may of course be both, ' he intoned. It was interesting to see the emergence of at least two of Lord St John's favourite themes emerging in the judging process: the work of his RFAC commissioner old boys, and royalty. This was neatly encapsulated in the joint winners of the main award: the Theatre Royal Production Centre, Plymouth, by former commissioner Ian Ritchie; and John Simpson's Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace. Other former commissioners to find favour with the judges were Michael Hopkins for the Manchester City Art Gallery, and Edward Cullinan for the new mathematics faculty in Cambridge. Guest of honour Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor offered some inspiring words on the place of architecture in the creation of beauty, but found time for a joke, about an Irish village with two hotels. 'Which should we eat at?' a visitor asked of a man leaning against a lamppost. 'Let me put it this way, ' came the reply, 'if you choose the one you'll wish you'd chosen the other!'