The Directors of Distillers
Distillers Company Limited (DCL) was the company was the largest producer of Scotch Whisky in the world and owned brands such as Johnnie Walker, Haig, Black and White, Teachers Scotch Whiskys as well as Gordons Gin. Whenever I see these for sale or being advertised I still look upon them as being 'our' brands.
The company was taken over by Guiness in the 1980's, after my grandfather retired and there was talk of fraudulent share trading on the Guiness side which meant that Distillers shareholders did not receive as much for their shares as they ought to have had.
The company would send the family a Haig Christmas pudding, which we all looked forward to, my mother slipping in a silver sixpence while serving it to us.
My grandfather worked on the chemicals side of the business, having a PhD in Chemistry and having made a career with ICI, Britain'largest chemicals company. There was a culture of drinking in the company and I remember my grandmother telling me about her husband's colleagues lives which had been ruined by drinks.
My grandparents could take their drinks well and in a disciplined way, their favourite being gin and martini, a drink which they had discovered on their business trips to the New York. Such business trips would involve taking a cruise liner across the Atlantic from Southampton to New York, a journey of a week. No telephones, no internet, no disturbances, just time to write up reports during the day, play games on deck and socialise in the evening, no doubt with a drink of choice.
Looking again at the photo, I am comparing it with my own experiences of Board meetings. Today, we would be seeing a mass of cables on the probably plastic- or formica-topped board table. Such cables would be connected to everyone's laptops and mobile phones, which are being recharged. There would be a few telephones around and probably a TV screen for video-conferencing, as well as an overhead projector for the powerpoint presentations as well as overhead sheets.
Definitely no chandeliers, no polished shoes, no standard dark suits and ties, no wall ornaments and no beautiful wooden board table.
The directors would probably be a good deal younger now, many with MBA's, but most lacking in the cumulative experience shared by these men. Oh yes, and there would also be a few women now, possibly involved in HR or Customer Services, or having an affair with the boss.