Born in London in 1962, I have been married, divorced, re-married and am blessed with three extraordinarily lovely children who amaze and delight every single day.
I was brought up by my mother and my grandparents in the Ashdown Forest in Sussex, with Pooh Sticks and Shetland ponies and lots of garden cricket and the Bluebell Railway and the South Downs in the far distance. An idyllic, fun, rather old-fashioned, country childhood.
I became a huge fan of cricket, dogs and horses at an early age. My first puppy was a beagle who we called “Toggles” – I ran away from prep school so as not to miss her first litter. A great shetland pony called “Hector” showed me that you could spend just as much time on the ground as on a pony’s back and still have fun.
Years later a broken-down 10 year old chestnut gelding, Ebro, an ex-hurdler who the vet said was “on his last legs, and that unsteadily” gave me six years of wonderful days riding at full tilt across the Oxfordshire countryside. A mad cocker spaniel, Atticus, has been a great friend for the last ten years – splendidly nuts but completely lovable.
Throughout this cricket has been a constant. From hours of daily batting practice as a six year old, to years of press-ganging every friend I could find to play “just a few overs”, to falling asleep listening to TMS under the sheets…cricket always seemed like just the best.
Educated at Lancing and Cambridge (History at Caius), I subsequently worked most often as a management consultant and an investment manager and I have also occasionally become involved with more interesting start-ups. McKinsey, Piper Trust, Pitcher & Piano, Boden, musica, CubicEgg, Sony, Serenade, Hedgerow, Fern (disastrously – mind those Russians!) and lots of other smaller projects.
Moderately serious about politics (a former Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association, socially left, economically right.) A lover of interesting wines, fast ski-ing, and sailing small boats in strong winds just for added fun.
I was a devourer of books of all sorts from a very young age and became a dedicated fan of PG Wodehouse, Anthony Trollope, Anthony Powell, Robert Graves, Evelyn Waugh and Lawrence Durrell. An equally enthusiastic reader of CS Forester, Kingsley Amis, Patrick O’Brian and Jilly Cooper, I was obsessed with JRR Tolkein for about five years from 8 to 13 and at one stage, worryingly, had memorised about 10 chapters of The Lord of the Rings from ‘The Council of Elrond’ to “Farewell to Lórien.’
While Paddy Fermor, Bruce Chatwin, Eric Newby and Colin Thubron held me enthralled by their travels, my own favourite destinations over the years have been Guatemala & Central America, Nevis & the Caribbean, Botswana & Southern Africa, Provence & the South of France. I am sorry not to have had time to explore Asia (yet!) I have been a dedicated and enthusiastic if not entirely safe skier of the Matterhorn’s lower slopes since I first visited in the 1970s and have kept on returning, while I have become an ever more occasional fair-weather sailor since first learning to sail in the freezing waters of Poole Harbour.
Greatest achievement? Undoubtedly, three amazingly kind and clever children who fill me with amazement and delight. Like parents everywhere, I suspect, our children make sense out of chaos, light out of shadows and joy from doubt, simply by being lovely.
Having always been an instinctive optimist, I continue to believe that everything will be OK in the end. Human progress seems to move faster and faster and the occasional and inevitable disasters that befall us seem to set us back less far than before. The rate of progress accelerates and the significance of the setbacks declines. Learning from our all-too-frequent mistakes must be the key and ought to make us value our successes, even small ones, more highly.
JK Rowling says, through the splendidly brave Sirius Black, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000.) Although “inferior” isn’t quite right – “less lucky” perhaps…anyway: a good principle. I think there is one rule that trumps all: be kind!