IT WAS off to Mansion House for many in the City yesterday for the annual Guinness and Oyster Lunch, which has been a tradition in the Square Mile for nigh on half a century.<br /><br />New Lord Mayor Nick Anstee kicked off the proceedings with a rousing speech, swiftly followed by the face of Guinness maker Diageo at the event, corporate relations director Ian Wright.<br /><br />Wright was happy to explain why slimy oysters and creamy pints of Guinness traditionally go together (it’s all about the taste, as well as the fact that both were historically in abundance in times of poverty, apparently), though the pairing of the two at yesterday’s particular event has a rather more prosaic explanation.<br /><br />“It’s more that the organisers who started the lunch 44 years ago realised that oysters and all-you-can-drink Guinness was the best way to bribe thirsty City guys to come to a fundraising lunch,” he chuckled.<br /><br />From yesterday’s decent showing, it looks as if the same logic still holds fast today.<br /><br /><strong>GIVEN THE SLIP</strong><br />On to the more important question of how good the slippery little blighters really were – and who better to ask than a true City veteran?<br /><br />Brian Winterflood, non-executive chairman of the market-making firm that bears his name, was schmoozing the crowd yesterday along with his wife Doreen, but was less than impressed by the oysters on offer.<br /><br />“They were quite small – and even though you can go back for more, who’s ever seen five oysters served at a time?” he chortled. “They should come in half dozens. Though come to think of it, it’s probably another result of that blasted decimalisation.”<br /><br /><strong>DOMESTIC AFFAIRS</strong><br />Lord Mayor Nick Anstee may have proved he’s become the busiest bee in the City at the event, hopping off to another engagement right after his speech, but that didn’t stop the Lady Mayoress, Claire, staying around to look after the guests at her majestic new home.<br /><br />The Capitalist popped over for a chat about what it’s really like to live at the Mansion House, to be greeted by effusive praise.<br /><br />“Oh, it’s beautiful!” she gasped. “And I tell you, as a lady, the cupboard space is the stuff dreams are made of...”<br /><br />As for the Lord Mayor himself, he won’t have much time to admire the décor, being out almost every night and on course to deliver a staggering 800 speeches by the end of the year. “He’s in his element,” sighed his wife, with a smile.<br /><br />DIARY DATE<br />Is this weekend officially the most popular time to schedule a corporate Christmas schmooze-fest?<br /><br />I only ask because of the improbably long list of bashes being held yesterday after the Guinness and oyster lunch, which is expected to have raised anything up to £45,000 for the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation charity for disabled people through ticket sales and a silent auction.<br /><br />The party roster included offerings from brokers Evolution, Panmure Gordon, Charles Stanley, Mirabaud Securities as well as the annual TechMark awards, the one time of the year when the boffins really get the chance to let down their hair.