Thursday, 16 February 2012

A pleasure not forgotten

WELL, he’s beaten me to it. Solictor Nigel Cole and I had always joked that we would retire around the same time and then spend all those missed opportunities to share a beer in our dotage.

When Nigel started his career as a solicitor around the magistrates’ courts of East Devon in 1971, I was an eager young reporter spending hours in draughty court rooms.  We have been chums ever since.

But now Nigel, senior partner at Beviss & Beckingsale, has decided to exit the legal profession which has changed greatly over the past 40 years. Me? Well retirement holds no attractions at the moment (although I am a little envious) and we will have to wait a bit longer before we get the chance  to while away the hours, putting the world to rights and reminiscing over the good old days in Axminster over a beer or two.

Not that Nigel intends to put on his slippers and put his feet up. After an appropriate time for reflection, and the chance to see more of his grandchildren, he will be using that huge experience of life gained in building one of the area’s most successful legal firms over four decades to good use. I have no doubt about that.

As well as being a friend, Nigel has also looked after my legal affairs over the years, both personal and for the various businesses I have been associated with. In newspapers we very often run close to the wind so a good brief is pretty essential.

There have been good and bad times and Nigel’s wise counsel has been hugely influential in my life.  One factor has remained constant through the periods of elation and desperation - Nigel’s kindness. 

Sat in the magnificent meeting room at Beviss & Beckingsale this week, we recalled many of those occasions and I departed feeling that Axminster would not be quite the same without seeing Nigel’s office lights burning bright late into the night.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s when I was trying to revive Pulman’s Weekly News and burning the midnight oil several nights a week, invariably Nigel was still at his desk, piled high with files, when I went home.

There are many in and around Axminster who have benefited fom Nigel’s kindness and sound advice over the years and it goes without saying that he will be greatly missed, not least by his colleagues in Silver Street and the other B & B offices, but also by all his clients.

For the time being, however, our plans to drink beer and chew the fat will have to be put on hold, a pleasure deferred but definitely not forgotten.

Honiton ‘Babes’ pull out the stops

HATS off to Honiton Pantomime Society for their production of “Babes In The Wood” this week.

Honiton was where I started my journalistic career so I have a special affection for the town. But I have never covered one of their stage shows before so Thursday’s visit to Honiton Community College was a first. I was not disappointed.

I sat in a row with four kids and they had a brilliant time - laughing their socks off throughout. That’s always a good sign.

Now in their 26th year, the Honiton societyseems to be going from strength to strength. With over 40 in the cast, they coped marvellously well with the restrictions of the Honiton College stage and produced a show that had all the ingredients of a successful traditional pantomime - lots of singing and dancing, brilliant costumes and loads of corny jokes. The audience also did them proud, rarely missing a boo or hiss.

And a special word of praise for Barry Simmonds who stepped into the shoes of Honiton’s “Dame Extraordinaire”, the wonderful Max Pipe, in playing the role of “Nurse Jemima Jollop”.  Not an easy task but he did it with all the excesses expected of a man mature of years dressed in outlandish wigs and caked with make-up. 

The panto season is drawing to a close (we’ve covered three others this week) but I hope to return to Honiton for their “End of The Pier” show in August.

WITH miserable January out of the way and spring approaching fast, thoughts are turning in all communities throughout East Devon to one summer event we can all look forward to - celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Most towns and villages in Weekender country are well advanced in planning their celebrations and if you want the widest possible publicity please make sure you let us know what you are up to.

I attended last week’s meeting of the Axminster steering committee, set up by the town council, at which there was great enthusiasm for their expanding programme of events.

With all the gloom and doom over the grim financial situation that dominates the news agenda at present, having another good old royal knees-up will do us all good.

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