Adrian Burford

Adrian Burford

Born in London, I have been married, divorced, re-married and am blessed with three lovely children who amaze and delight.

I was brought up mostly by my 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, although with a non-standard parenting structure which was hard to follow even then.

Adrian Burford about 1970

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 Gloucestershire countryside. A mad cocker spaniel, Atticus, has subequently become a great slightly eccentric friend.

Adrian Burford at the Ashdown Forest Cricket Club
Ashdown Forest Colts Cricket Club – the best colts team ever! (Well, in 1970s Sussex terms at least.)

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.

Adrian Burford: Caius College, Cambridge

After a comic failure to arrive in time for the Winchester “Election” exam I went to Lancing for a year and then (after I’d got my breath back) to Westminster 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 , 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 advising Pitcher & Piano, Boden, Serenade, cubic egg, Hedgerow and others, interspersed with slightly less fascinating but more remunerative periods of advising global multi-nationals, as one does.

Adrian Burford's favourite PG Wodehouse: Summer Lightning

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 10 chapters of The Lord of the Rings from ‘The Council of Elrond’ to “Farewell to Lórien.’ Quite the party piece in the days before the internet.

Adrian Burford's passport

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.

Adrian Burford's children

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.

Optimist Adrian Burford

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.

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Some random thoughts of enlightenment and entertainment

“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”
Aesop’s Fables: The Lion and the Mouse, ~580BC

“Don’t underestimate Gilbert & Sullivan. Or Jilly Cooper.”
Adrian Burford, 2016

“‘Didn’t Frankenstein get married?’
‘Did he?’ said Eggy. ‘I don’t know. Never met him.’
‘Harrow man, I expect.’ ”
PG Wodehouse: Laughing Gas, 1936

“There is no day, however fair, that can not be enhanced
by the addition of some of the wit and wisdom of PG Wodehouse.”
Adrian Burford, 2016

“Above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. In life people will take you very much at your own reckoning.”
Anthony Trollope: The Small House at Allington, 1864

“For myself I am an optimist.
It does not seem to be much use to be anything else.”
Winston Churchill: Lord Mayor’s Banquet, 1954

“My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.”
Boris Johnson: TIME, 2007

“Non quia difficilia sunt non audemus,
sed quia non audemus difficilia sunt.”
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare,
but because we do not dare that things are difficult.”
Seneca: Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, CIV, ~50AD

“I can’t stand Paris. I hate the place. Full of people talking French, which is a thing I bar. It always seems to me so affected.”
PG Wodehouse: Big Money, 1931

“I seldom go to the opera,
it is to music what a bawdy house is to a cathedral.”
HL Mencken: Letter to Isaac Goldberg, 1925

“There is always a real and an imaginary person you are in love with; sometimes you love one best, sometimes the other.”
Anthony Powell: The Acceptance World, 1955

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind.
The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”
Henry James, overheard by his nephew, Billy James, 1902
Leon Edel: Henry James – A Life, vol V: The Master 1901-1916 (1972)

“The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You hear them shouting ‘Heil, Spode!’ and you imagine it “the Voice of the People.” That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: ‘Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?”
PG Wodehouse: The Code of the Woosters, 1938

“If you are unlucky enough to find an opera-lover under 60 – run!”
Adrian Burford, 2009

” ‘You can’t be a successful Dictator and design women’s underclothing.’
‘No, sir.’
‘One or the other. Not both.’
‘Precisely, sir.’ ”
PG Wodehouse: The Code of the Woosters, 1938

“All men are cremated equal.”
Spike Milligan