January 2011

Alex Hughes

Over 100 people came to the BTA's Georgian banquet on the 14th January. 

IMG 0221 2DSCF0797 newGeorgian wine, not available in Bristol shops was brought by the Ambassador, His Excellency Giorgi Badridze. Ambassador Badridze also acted as Tamada proposing a range of traditional toasts interspersed with comments on the current situation in Georgia. The Bristol Georgian choir sang three sets of traditional songs and HE joined in with the choir on their final number.  BTA chairman Derek Pickup and incoming BTA Hon Sec Esther Pickup-Keller set up a stunning informal exhibition of Georgian artefacts including one of the first ever coins minted in Georgia. Fifteen members of the Newport-Kutaisi Twinning Association attended with their Mayor and Bristol's Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress were also on the top table. It was great to see so many friends of Tbilisi both old and new including former chair Dr Henry Parry, freeman of the city of Tbilisi.     

I would like to thank Bristol Twinning Association again for what was a most successful evening'.  Catherine Philpott - Vice Chair NKTA 

Evening Post article.  Monday, January 31, 2011, 09:00

First Lady: Jenny Bradley

I AM sitting next to the Georgian Ambassador. He is wearing a beautifully tailored, light grey, double breasted suit and his white shirt cuffs show precisely at his wrists. His hair is glossy black and straight, lying flat to his head. He is accompanied by his wife, an attractive, dark-haired woman who alternates between adoring smiles and stern looks.

Both wear similar rings on the "wedding finger" of their right hands. His is a large ceramic turquoise blue oval in a gold setting.

When the invitation had arrived to a "Georgian banquet", I had assumed it was some sort of historical re-enactment. In fact it was an invitation to the Bristol Tbilisi Association (BTA). Tbilisi is of course, the capital of Georgia.

Bristol is twinned with Tbilisi and has a strong association with the city. Colin Smith, the Lord Mayor, is president for his year of office.

Newport is twinned with the second largest city in Georgia, Kutaisi, and the Mayor and Mayoress of Newport have also been invited. They both wear extraordinarily elaborate gold chains of office. The Mayor's has a triple row of chains and some that go over his shoulders and dip over the top of his arms. His wife's contains very small ceramic pendants.

Our chains are simpler and more classical.

There is some teasing and joking about whose are best. Colin's is the oldest, made in 1828. Mine is a very pretty golden, five stringed affair, with a large oval pendant showing the city crest. The chain is very delicate; feminine and pretty.

I laugh and call it a battle of the bling. I prefer ours!

The immaculately groomed ambassador tells me Georgia is a little pocket in the world with an ancient culture and unique language.

Their language is at least three thousand years old.

It has changed so little that school children read texts from the fifth century and still understand them.

Fixing me with dark brown eyes and hooked nose he tells me that from being below 100 in the World Bank's league tables of 'ease with which to do business', Georgia is now 12th. Corruption is significantly reduced. However they are still struggling to loosen Russia's grip.

Georgia has modernised itself throughout history, which is why it survives. I admire their energy and ability to change.

The Georgian banquet is held in the very beautiful Victorian Gothic village hall in Westbury-on-Trym.

Its soaring open beamed arches, rose windows, pointed arch doors and overwhelming sense of history seem a suitable setting to share friendship between two nations with such rich identities.

Jenny Bradley is one of three Lady Mayoresses who accompany Bristol's Lord Mayor Colin Smith on his duties. These are her personal views.

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