I’m an Oxford classicist, a retired City marine underwriter and maritime lawyer who lived for 30 years in Surrey, and am now in Penarth – but I still have fond memories of living and working in Liverpool also, all through the 80s. I was one of those LibDems identified as being to the left of New Labour, and not wanted in New LibCons. Since 2010 I’ve been a paid-up Labour Party member.

I abominate Brexit. I consider that it was obtained by deception and that Vote Leave deceived those who voted to leave the EU so that our country has brought on itself huge economic self-harm: but the greatest damage is the loss of the civilising influence that being part of the EU brought. Why would anyone want to deny our children the chance to follow an Erasmus course in another European city? Why would we not want to welcome European students so they can get to know us better? Why is it more important to stop ‘freedom of movement’ than to allow musicians and other performing artists to travel freely within Europe – and indeed that means, to welcome them here too?

Even given that the ‘democratic decision’ to leave the EU (by only 37% of the electorate) cannot be reversed immediately, I do not accept that we cannot – as the Brexiters assured us we would – continue to offer and accept the freedoms fundamental to the EU – to trade, to live and work in each other’s countries, to accept and maintain each other’s standards.

I cannot understand Brexit people’s 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. I am in awe of the things they have gone through. For me, incidentally, there is no such thing as an ‘economic migrant’. If you have to flee for your life from your home country you will of necessity be looking for work as well as a place of refuge.

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, filmed there. It has been very strange not to be schlepping several times a week to the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms last year. Bloomin’ Covid has prevented me from going to Hamburg for Spargelzeit (qv) and also stopped me visiting the marvel that is Elbphilharmonie.

I’m in Penarth, next 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, All Saints, and am a lay 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 was for seven years its general manager. I retired from the Foodbank in July 2020.

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