My mother didn’t have a happy life

I don’t mean that it was uniformly unhappy but after a promising start she suffered a misfortune which, despite her undoubted mental strength and determination, was to blight the rest of her life.

Audrey Vickers was born in 1923 and as far as I know enjoyed a happy childhood in a stable and loving but fairly strict family environment. Her father was a successful butcher and the family lived ‘over the shop’ in Wepre Buildings in Connah’s Quay. She went to the same schools, and was taught by some of the same teachers as me: Dee Road Infants, Custom House Lane County Primary and then Hawarden Grammar. From school she went to teachers training college as was the norm in those days for many girls who’d made it through to the 6th form. She secured a place at IM Marsh in Liverpool.

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What’s wrong with using the phone?

I know it’s already been reported that younger people don’t use the phone. It’s said that they prefer to communicate in other ways, mainly via social media and its associated messaging services. They do this because they’re all linked in and continuously online so I guess it works.

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Leaders are only as good as their teams

The All Stars, Lensbury’s 2nd rugby team: I’ve always enjoyed sport, as a spectator and a participant. Unfortunately I’ve never been that good at it and in school, although I’d have happily swapped a few academic grades for a place on the school team, I never got the chance. However later on, first at college and then when I started to work, I found that enthusiasm was a pretty good substitute for ability. It wouldn’t get you into the first team but at least it got you onto a team sheet. Then I chanced on the discovery that if you would take on the chore of organising you would not only secure your position but you could even become captain, choose your position and take all the penalties! And so I became a ‘professional’ second team captain and my first shot at that was in the early 70s when I played for and captained the 2nd XV at Lensbury, the sports club of Shell in London where I worked.

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5 German cities

the old town hall in Munich; it’s now the toy museum

They’re not the most interesting German cities and this is certainly not any sort of in depth profile of them but it’s the five cities which give me good memories. It helps that I spent 13 years working in the chemicals industry in Europe and of course three of the biggest chemical companies were German and there were many others besides.

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5 memorable flights

I didn’t take my first air flight until my mid 20s but I’d have to admit I’ve made up for it since. It’s not something I’m necessarily proud of but in my time I’ve held gold cards with three different airline groups (British Airways, KLM and SAS) and in more recent times I’ve done interim management jobs in Spain by effectively commuting weekly between Luton or Stansted and Barcelona.

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Cambridge, lock downs and face coverings

I went into Cambridge this morning. Generally speaking it’s not a big deal. In normal pre-Covid times I’m often at Shire Hall and I have a habit of going in every Saturday mornings to meet friends for breakfast. But today was only my fourth visit since the start of lock down (16 Mar 20). Two of those visits were for very specific purposes early on and the third was a first Saturday morning visit last month when restaurants were allowed to open and once more I could enjoy a Saturday morning breakfast.

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Five restaurants with staying power

We had lunch at the Old Fire Engine House in Ely today. That in itself would be worthy of a post because the food is pretty good, there’s an acceptable wine list and service is intelligent and excellent. But there’s a twist. I first went to the Old Fire Engine House sometime in 1970. That’s 50 years ago and it got me thinking. Which iconic restaurants have I visited way back and are still in business today? I say iconic (a) to narrow the field a little but also (b) to highlight ones with a certain distinctive character. There aren’t many and I can’t find one to beat 50 years. 

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