Born in London in 1962, I have been married, divorced, re-married and am blessed with three lovely children who amaze and delight.
I was brought up by my mother and grandparents in Sussex, with Pooh Sticks and Shetland ponies and lots of garden cricket and the Bluebell Railway. An idyllic, fun, rather old-fashioned, country childhood.
Cricket, dogs and ponies were the major concerns of my early years. 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.
Subsequently a broken-down 10 year old chestnut gelding, Ebro, who a 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, was also a great friend for 12 slightly nutty years.
Cricket has been a constant. From hours of daily batting practice in the garden as a six year old, to years of press-ganging friends to let me play in all sorts of teams, to falling asleep listening to TMS under the sheets, to decreasingly successful attempts these days to bowl my own eldest son out.
After a comic failure to arrive in time for the Winchester “Election” exam I went to Lancing and thence to Cambridge (History at Caius) which was more fun than anyone could conceivably have suggested. I spent too much time on politics, about which I became moderately serious and a CUCA Chairman, trying to organise the “wet” resistance to Thatcherism (which didn’t work out so brilliantly!)
After no significant career direction emerged at Cambridge I was lured into the world of management consultancy by McKinsey and subsequently worked as an investment manager and business start-up consultant with interesting periods at Pitcher & Piano, Boden, Serenade, cubic egg, Hedgerow and others.
I was a devourer of books from a very young age and became a PG Wodehouse superfan and a devotee of Anthony Trollope, Anthony Powell, Robert Graves, Evelyn Waugh and Lawrence Durrell. An equally enthusiastic reader of CS Forester, Kingsley Amis, Patrick O’Brian, I became obsessed with JRR Tolkien for about five years from 8 to 13 and at one stage, rather worryingly, I had memorised about 10 chapters of The Lord of the Rings from ‘The Council of Elrond’ to “Farewell to Lórien.’ Quite the party piece.
While Paddy Fermor, Bruce Chatwin, Eric Newby and Colin Thubron held me enthralled by their travels, my own favourite destinations have been Guatemala & Central America, Nevis & the Caribbean, Botswana & Southern Africa, and Provence & the South of France.
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 despite the ever-glitzier and pricier milieu. Although slightly safer on water, I have become an only occasional fair-weather sailor since first learning to sail in the freezing waters of Poole Harbour while at prep school.
Greatest achievement?Undoubtedly, three amazing children who are a constant source of amazement and delight.
Making sense out of chaos, separating joy from doubt, simply by being lovely.
Always an instinctive optimist, I continue to believe that everything will be OK in the end. Our inevitable disasters seem to set us back less far than before. So as our rate of progress accelerates the significance of our inevitable setbacks declines. Learning from 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 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.) Give it a go.