Write in (3)…A surprise guest @ the door by Simon Banks

“Doing the door” after the meeting has started is annoying in most respects:  we never start at 14:30…more like 14:45, when those who have made it on time are now less patient and all the last minute checks have been made with the oncoming speakers.

Those who are late, are therefore very late and miss the first 20 minutes setting of the presentation.  They are the disorganised (like me), the cyclists who think they can speed faster than time itself, the long distance public transport users with wows of the British public transport system (the “vandals” had stripped the signal cable again between the West Country and Reading yesterday),  the old and the infirm.

Having an elderly Mum I now understand their needs better, are just slow:  they need time to shuffle and not fall down the stairs.  Other late comers just lost their way: new visitors and infrequently attending members. So my patience was stretched when I opened the door to the 7th late attendee: a large elderly, bearded gent with stick and American accent.

“Welcome” I said.”Well thanks.  I am a member but don’t often get over to the UK to attend meetings, so thought I should make the effort”.

“Well thanks for making the effort” I replied and helped him down the stairs and into the room.

After the meeting, I invited him and our remaining speaker to the pub.  As both are infrequently in the UK, pints of Flowers went down well.   Once seated, we got chatting.

“So what brings you back to England then?”  An acceptable opening question you may think.  Would you expect a joke reply?

“To receive an OBE from Her Majesty”  What an answer!

Mike Shawcross in action
Mike Shawcross in action

Quick double take: no glint in the eye and one not of an age to joke.  But what a fabulous response to work in, next time some jerk asks me a similar question?

So, Mr Michael Shawcoss OBE (22 June 2011), Globetrotter Member from Hebdon Bridge W.Yorks, originally went to Turkey to do potholing there, then on to Canada and since 1989 has been living in Guatemala teaching and learning from the 22 indigenous tribal Indian peoples there.  But that’s not all.  In 1964 (pre-hippi trail) he hitch hiked back from India on £9 0/-.  It would have been £10, but he needed to renew his passport for £1.


To quote the UK government, via the 2011 New Year’s Honours’ List, Mike received his OBE “For services to aid projects helping disadvantaged communities in Guatemala”.  Mike returned to Guatemala on July 22 but managed to speak at the July’s Members’ slides meeting in London…

The Ant

One thought on “Write in (3)…A surprise guest @ the door by Simon Banks

  1. Greetings Mike,
    I just wish to renew our friendship. We met in 1974 in Canada. I am a member of the Cork Speleological Group and I was at Crowsnest pass in August 1974. We, that is Pat Mulcahy, and myself were guests of McMaster Caving & Climbing club. We were at the Andy Good Plateau and Arctomis in Jasper National Park.
    For the attention of ; Mike
    Best wishes
    Jerry Aherne.

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