A suit and tie
With Allan’s help I made my meeting in Clevedon with time to spare, and even managed to look respectable with the clean shirt and tie he had packed for me. I had worked with the Commonwealth Education Trust for a few months, helping to publish and distribute three wonderfully illustrated compendiums of children’s short stories. The Chair of the Trust was Judith Hanratty. Now in her mid-seventies, she had more energy and resilience than I’ll ever have. At Easter, she had apologised for not having been in touch for a fortnight because she’d had ‘a couple of strokes and had been told to take a short rest’.
A Kiwi by birth, she had enjoyed a most illustrious corporate career, including a decade as Company Secretary of BP in the UK. Recently she had been described as a ‘global corporate game-changer’ who had pioneered the concept of corporate social responsibility and created a model for the good governance of major listed global companies.
In spite of these accolades, Judith was also very easy to side track. We had planned this meeting for what was an important stage in the publishing project, but most of the morning was spent discussing the places I had been, and the people I had met so far. She suggested various people who might help me over the coming weeks, including the Chair of the Royal Cromer Golf Club, who would be busy staging a Ladies’ tournament when I visited, but who would gladly provide a pot of tea if I mentioned Judith’s name. I’m not sure how valuable the meeting was from a publishing perspective, but I enjoyed every minute of it nonetheless.Before reuniting with Allan, Clevedon was to offer a surprise. A very good friend from Kent, David, happened to be visiting his daughter and son-in-law who had recently bought a house in Clevedon. He had followed my progress from day one, and it was a delight to catch up with him.
David is Jason’s business partner. If you’ve stayed with this story from the beginning, Jason is the chap who told me that if my expedition was to be a success, I should only visit a handful of lighthouses, I should drive to each one in an Aston Martin, and I should try and stay in one place so that his personal assistant could post me clean sets of t-shirts and underwear each week.
David and I met up in a tea shop on the waterfront and spent a couple of hours catching up on news from Kent. When we eventually parted company, he couldn’t resist telling me that he had a packet of pants from Jason for me in his car.
Allan met me in Clevedon, and since he’d left me that morning, he had found time to return to Oxford, pick up his son Cameron, and return ready for the day trip to Lundy Island the next day. It would be hard to find a better friend, and I was glad to spend money that I didn’t really have on a meal out for us all.