A Good Start

To 2020, here in Cornwall.

Champagne with my sister until 2am, then brunch of Eggs Benedict and strong black coffee at Cafe Mylor in Mylor Yacht Harbour at 11am.

Eggs Benedict at Cafe Mylor, Cornwall.

Fare Well

St Mylor Church c.1100 A.D.

I will be saying goodbye to the year at the end of this decade in Mylor Harbour, Cornwall. I’m here for a well-earned holiday in the fresh sea air, and to spend time with loved ones.

In such beautiful surroundings, looking over the English Channel and the sweeping moorland, marked with farms and villages which twinkle in the midwinter dark, I am reminded of the simple joys and freedom I felt holidaying here, in Cornwall, as a child.

Tonight, I am happy and grateful to be with my sister and her family to say fare well 2019 and welcome 2020 . Wherever you are, whoever you are with and however you pass your time this New Year’s Eve, I wish you joy and I wish you well.


My Sister (With Me).

47 North Hill, Colchester, Essex. 1964
Falmouth, Cornwall. 2004

From Essex to Cornwall. And beyond!


Room 45

My grandfather was 106 when he died on December 15 2013. Of course, he’d been around my whole life, while I’d been around exactly half of his. As he made it that far on the clock, many told me I should not be sad: ‘He had a good innings’. Indeed he did, better than the current men’s England cricket team (something that would have cheered him). Not enough to propel him into the top 10 of the UK’s oldest inhabitants (something that would have vexed him); but still, none too shabby. Undoubtedly, it was his time to go. He knew it, we knew it. He left before he passed his best before date. So, 22 years to the day that my grandmother (his wife) died, my sister and I held his funeral. The Reverend Peter Evans officiated non-officiously and very humanly. A small group of us then went to The King’s Arms where I drank whisky: ‘Because it’s what he would have wanted’. And that was that. Only it wasn’t and still isn’t.

In the weeks leading up to the funeral, my sister and I, together, took care of business. For the final week, we spent all day, every day together doing just that. Grandad’s belongings were moved out of his room at the residential care home where he’d lived for the previous 15 years. All the boxes, furniture, suitcases were stacked away. We went through everything. But nothing brought home that he’d gone more than finding that Room 45 was now home to Frank, not George. Keeping busy and drinking tea are the great British standbys in sad times. They always work for me. When they stop, what then? Well, after my sister left, I started crying because I missed her. By early Monday morning, in the bus on the way to the airport, I was crying proper. There was nothing to keep me busy and I had no tea.

You see, when you love someone, it doesn’t matter how old they are or where they are – what’s important is what they mean to you. That love, the one that always demands the present tense, that’s the real business to take care of.


Thinking ahead

On Thursday 22 August, children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland received their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) results. Usually, these examinations are taken at the age of sixteen and are used as a benchmark for the child’s employability or future study potential. Usually, the national release of the results leads to heavy debate in the press and pubs about the declining standard of children’s attainment, the inability to meet targets, unsustainable pressure on children, inflated/deflated grades.

Here, I’d like to declare a major, personal, vested interest in Thursday’s results (just so’s you know). Firstly, I’ve worked as an examiner (not for GCSEs) and thoroughly enjoyed the work and secondly, and far more importantly, my eldest niece was one of those receiving her results on Thursday. To say that I’m very proud of her would be an immense understatement; she did so well last week, I’m telling anyone prepared to listen and many who I’m sure aren’t (but are too scared to tell me, given the zeal with which I’m delivering the news). Put simply, she’s a star.

Now let’s take a step back from measuring the nation and quantifying its future to take a look at the children themselves. They matter. I love my niece and her sister almost as dearly as I love their mother (my sister). My nieces are great people and it’s a testimony to the way in which they’ve been raised, to believe they can do anything they set their mind to and work towards, so congratulations to their responsible grown-ups. Of course, I’m biased and proud of it. But my faith and happiness in children extends beyond this.

After years of enjoying working with teenagers from around the world (in education), I was fortunate while on holiday last summer to meet and get to know a particularly great group of children. I thought then, how bright the future looks in their hands and how exciting the world looks through their eyes. That cannot be measured or quantified, only enjoyed – not only by them, but by all of us fortunate enough to live on this same planet with them. We should all cherish our children’s futures and give them our love, not our thoughts – they have their own (thanks, JFK and Khalil Gibran). I’m happy and confident that, thinking ahead, this world is theirs.