On October 11th 2018 Susan Howe was our very entertaining speaker and she gave us some hilarious snippets from her life whilst working as a London Tourist Blue Badge Guide. The training for this role lasted two years and Susan qualified in 1983. She was given an itinerary for all over England and ‘North of the border’. Her first venture as a novice guide was to take a group of tourists to the Cotswolds. She lived in a ground floor flat in Philbeach Crescent Gardens and was ready to leave her flat. As she opened her front door a policeman ushered her back into her flat and told her to stay there as there was a man who was high on drugs in a car parked directly outside her flat and he had a shotgun. She said, “No! I’m a Blue Badge Guide and I have a group of tourists waiting for me in Park Lane to go to the Cotswolds!” With that, she went out of her back door, crossed a couple of gardens, knocked on the window of a nearby flat and a man in bed opened his window. With that she jumped onto his waterbed in her stiletto-heeled shoes explaining to him what was happening outside her flat as she ran out of his front door, determined to get to Park Lane in time for her group’s outing. The siege between the man with the shotgun and the police around her flat lasted for 3 days and all the while she continued to live in it with a policeman to protect her.
Susan described many other adventurous tours that were amusing to listen to but must have been scary at the time. As an example one took place in India looking for tigers in the jungle. One couple asked why there were no made-up roads in the jungle. Susan had other very interesting jobs over the years. Susan was interviewed by the captain of a superyacht based in Southampton. She was appointed and she discovered that the job entailed cooking for the people on board who had chartered the yacht. “My girlfriend will help you.” said the captain. This promise was not fulfilled. Intrepid as ever and with no cookery skills, armed with her Connie Spry cookbook she proceeded to cater for the charterer, a millionaire from New York, and his 31 friends. She presented them with that ever-popular English favourite – shepherd’s pie! Just what is needed for exploring the coastline of Cannes and Nice! Susan must have done something right as she became the cook for Gunter Sachs on his yacht and after that, he asked her, “What are you doing in the winter?” She agreed to cook for his staff at his ski chalet in Gstaad. Susan took shortcuts here to make life easier for herself. There were many famous guests visiting including Jackie Stewart and Roman Polanski. Guests played Bingo and sometimes received Rolex watches as prizes. Susan observed that money did not always make rich people happy. Susan is keen to give other talks and has a wealth of amusing stories to bestow on us so I am sure that we will be inviting Susan to visit us again.
Next WI meetings:
November 8th 2018 – The Good, the Bad and the Downright Funny. Jackie Dimmock was a WPC and will talk about her life in the Police Force.
December 13th 2018 – Social Evening with a Christmas theme.
January 10th 2019 – Colin Pawson of the British Carriage Society is involved with the Carriage Driving for the Disabled, Ashe Warren. He tests drivers to take handicapped clients in the woods and fields around Ashe Warren Farm.
Why not come along as a guest, a potential new member, or as someone who is interested in listening to a particular speaker? We are a cheerful group of ladies and we do have fun! If anyone would like to come along or would like more details please contact Carolyn Brown