I’m an Oxford classicist, a retired City marine underwriter and maritime lawyer living in Surrey – but I still have fond memories of living and working in Liverpool also, for a number of years in the 80s. I was one of those LibDems whom the Cleggster – deathless Guardian, thank you – identified as being to the left of New Labour, and not wanted in New LibCons. Now I’m a paid-up Labour Party member.

I am very fond of music, especially opera – I’m a member at Glyndebourne and a Friend at ENO and the Wigmore Hall. I’m a very tiny opera angel, for a new production of The Turn of the Screw at Wilton’s Music Hall – or rather, since Covid, to be filmed there. It was very strange not to be schlepping several times a week to the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms this year. Bloomin’ Covid has prevented me from going to Hamburg for Spargelzeit (qv) and also stopped me visiting the marvel that is Elbphilharmonie. I will definitely make it in 2021.

I’m in the process of moving to Cardiff, where one of my daughters and her family live. The other daughter was at uni there, and sang as a first soprano for the Polyphonic Choir under Neil Ferris. I’m really looking forward to getting to know WNO.

I go to my local parish church, where I’m a Reader. Studying theology after I retired was interesting and challenging – adult education seems to involve a lot of sitting round in small groups sharing one’s ignorance (‘bringing one’s experience of life’) instead of learning!

After I retired from the City I helped to start Cobham Area Foodbank, and for the last seven years have been its general manager. I retired from the Foodbank in July 2020.

I cannot understand British xenophobia and anti-Europeanism. Don’t people live better in Hamburg or Genoa than in [insert British city name]? I think they do. Why don’t they like immigrants and refugees? Since the rest of my family flew the nest, I’ve had several delightful refugees staying with me for a few months. I am in awe of the things they have gone through. For me, incidentally, there is no such thing as an ‘economic migrant’.

I would have loved to have lived as a reasonably well-resourced young man in England in the late 1930s. The finest streamlined trains – think Coronation Scot – Empire class flying boats – ocean liners – the ‘Queen Mary’ – and any number of beautiful cars; the original Penguin Pool and all the other Lubetkin buildings; Stanley Spencer; Raymond Loewy; the Children’s Encyclopedia and all those Arthur Mee books – my first newspaper was The Children’s Newspaper. Only the shadow of Nazism spoiled it.

I confess to being a petrol-head. I believe in automobile purchase therapy as a balm for my soul. I have never been rational about buying a car. Never mind its utility – the only question for me is whether I have fallen in love. At the last count, this has happened over 30 times in my life ….

The Author