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Cringing and cricket: my life before Fortress H

PUBLISHED: 07:52 01 April 2018

Yes, that debonair batsman in 1968 is Neil Haverson, in bat versus the Romford Recorder team.

Yes, that debonair batsman in 1968 is Neil Haverson, in bat versus the Romford Recorder team.

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As Neil Haverson prepares to bring out his memoirs, he’s had a bit of explaining to do to Mrs H...

Here’s a bit of trivia. I’ve been married to Mrs H for as long as Elizabeth I reigned. When I discovered this startling fact I decided to dig a bit deeper to see if there were any other parallels. I discovered that, by all accounts, Good Queen Bess was “clever and enigmatic”. Her success was put down to her “skill and judgement”. She had “formidable intellect and would quickly settle any argument in her favour”.

Hmm…that all has a familiar ring. Maybe Mrs H has Royal blood in her veins. If she has, she has never let on.

But there, we all have something in our lives that even those closest to us don’t know. Well, I have just revealed in print a few things from my early life. Mrs H may not have Royal blood in her veins but thanks to a career spanning 50-plus years in the newspaper industry I am sure I have ink in mine.

“Ink in my Blood” is the title of a book I have just written. It comprises a selection of my favourite Fortress H columns from the EDP together with some from an early sporting column I wrote in the Norwich Mercury and few of The Last Word, the opinion column I write in Let’s Talk.

But in addition, I have written a short autobiography of my life in the printing world, including some anecdotes of what I got up to in my single carefree days.

Now, as she does with every Fortress H column, Mrs H read the book before it was published. I asked her if she came across anything about me that she didn’t know.

Worryingly, her response was rather vague. She may be lying low, waiting for the opportunity to pounce, crying triumphantly: “Now I know why you do that. It goes back to when you were in that disgusting flat in King’s Lynn.”

I have mentioned in the book a girlfriend or two I went out with in my West Norfolk days, so Mrs H has read of my cunning early courting technique.

I was rather shy in those days and lacked courage to advance relationships. I found driving a girl home always put me under pressure. What happens when you get to her door? I didn’t have the courage to simply switch off the engine. I thought this was too blindingly obvious so I would draw to a halt and allow my foot to slip off the clutch.

There followed a slight lurch of the vehicle followed by my unconvincing exclamation of “Oh heck! Damn thing seems to have stalled.”

I don’t suppose that fooled any of my passengers.

Mrs H knows now the real reason why I arrived back so late one evening from playing cricket at Great Yarmouth – and it wasn’t because I’d been in the pub. By the time I got home darkness had long since fallen. It was before we got married and I’m sure she thought I was up to no good.

Even though she has now seen the explanation, she snorted and said: “I’m still none the wiser.”

And, still on the subject of cricket, she will have cringed when she read of my slurred outburst during a 1968 tour of Essex. Having consumed too much local ale in a pub in Chelmsford, I treated the patrons to a rather colourful evaluation of the town’s female population. And what did she make of the treatment her normally responsible husband administered to himself the following day before going into bat with a severe hangover?

Perhaps I should persuade Mrs H to write her autobiography and reveal some of her secrets. For instance, I’d love to know what really happened that night in Thetford when she chanced upon David Bowie in his underpants.

Ink in my Blood by Neil Haverson, published by Paul Dickson, is available from bookshops including Jarrolds Norwich and Cromer, Waterstones Norwich, Holt Bookshop and online from allthingsnorfolk.com and Amazon.

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