At the end of such a tumultuous year my first words must be that I hope all of you have managed to stay well. I am very sorry that we have not been able to continue our usual activities. We had some fun events lined up but, as you know, the hospitality business has suffered badly from the Covid restrictions, so no live events have been possible. Our last event at Tombo in February, with Anthony Rose, was very successful, but it seems like a hundred years ago now!
We can only hope that the Year of The Ox will bring an improvement, and maybe even a return to some sort of normality. The Ox signifies hard work, and I am sure there will be plenty of that, but let us hope that hard work and perseverance will eventually bear fruit.
A big thank you to all of you who have continued supporting the sake industry and the brewers – by drinking sake of course – and also supporting Zoom-led seminars and tastings. Oliver at Tengu Sake has worked hard to keep things going, as has Marie who has valiantly continued her WSET courses on-line. We hope that we’ll be able to get together for some real life tastings before too long. Marie has found us a great new venue for a party- and we plan to hold one as soon as conditions permit!
Remember that memberships paid for 2020 will be valid until the end of 2021, and we hope to be able hold some real events before then.
Amidst our feelings of hope for a better year in 2021 I want us to pray for all those who have lost loved ones this year; and to pay tribute to some well know figures who have links to Japan and the sake world.
In December many of you must have been deeply saddened, as was I, to learn of the death of Charles Campion. There have been many heartfelt and eloquent tributes written by people who knew him well, but I just wanted to include here an article that Charles wrote for the Evening Standard back in 2006. Charles was an early supporter of sake, and reported on the beginnings of the British Sake Association. I was immensely grateful for his interest and support and we remained in touch ever after. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family.
Sadly around the same time we learned of the sudden passing of the potter Phil Rogers. I didn’t know Phil personally but knew and admired his work. Phil was deeply influenced by Korean and Japanese ceramics, and only recently the Goldmark gallery exhibited a huge collection of eighty of his sake guinomi. All lovers of fine studio pottery, and collectors of sake ceramics , will be mourning his loss. Again, our thoughts and prayers go to Phil’s family.
Tragically, back in the summer we learned that Covid had claimed the life of Alex Fraser of East Teas. Alex was a big Japanophile – having travelled to Kyoto in the 1990s to study The Way of Tea with the Urasenke Foundation. Subsequently, back in the UK Alex set up East Teas. A kind and gentle man, Alex was always interested in what we were doing with the British Sake Association, and we had talked about doing something together. Alex was known to many people through his stall at Borough market, and will be very much missed. If anyone would like to pay tribute to Alex, his friend , the food writer Nichola Fletcher, has set up a crowdfunding campaign – https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-us-create-a-special-space-for-alex
I am sorry leave on a sad note, but thank you for reading.
May the New Year bring some much needed positivity, and Health and Happiness
akemashite omedetou gozaimasu
by Shirley Booth