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Today we talk to Alan Armitage, who is the Lord Mayor of Oxford and also works as a non-legal judge.
10:00am Friday 13th July 2012 in Columns
WHAT I’M CALLED: Alan Armitage.
MY AGE IN YEARS: 61.
WHAT I DO: Lord Mayor of Oxford. I’m also a non-legal judge and am involved in making decisions on deportation cases for the immigration and asylum tribunal. It’s a paid role and usually occupies me for about five or six days a month. I’m also Liberal Democrat city councillor for North ward and Liberal Democrat county councillor for West Central Oxford.
WHERE I LIVE: Summertown, Oxford.
WHO I LOVE: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I’ve been a fan of his music ever since I can remember. I remember singing in the Requiem at the Royal Festival Hall conducted by Karl Richter in the 1970s – the intensity was incredible.
HAPPIEST YEAR: 1992. This is when I moved to Oxford with my wife Jane, who works in clinical research. I also have three children – Alice, Edwin and Nell.
DARKEST MOMENT: Getting lost when travelling alone as a seven-year-old boy to Africa. Even before I got there, I got lost in Scotland. I thought I should be meeting one of my relatives in Kirkcaldy when in fact I should have been on a train to London. When I turned up at my grandparents’ house they put me on a night train to London. Then I was taken to London Airport by an aunt and uncle. The plane I was on broke down so I spent one night in Rome and one night in Tripoli in Libya. I also ended up in the wrong airport in Nigeria so I had to endure a long hot drive across country while I was still wearing my woolly underwear from Scotland.
PROUDEST BOAST: Learning to speak foreign languages well, including French and Italian. I was in France recently on a painting course. I’m a fan of Van Gogh.
WORST WEAKNESS: Can’t resist trying new foods. I particularly like spicy foods. I love Thai, Chinese and Indian food.
LESSONS LEARNED: Learn to listen hard to other people if you want to know anything worth knowing.
DULLEST JOB: Working behind a bar when I was a student in Dundee in the early 1970s where my parents lived. In those days you could only get a drink on Sunday in a hotel bar.
GREATEST SHAME: Not saying thank you to my parents when they were alive.
LIFELONG HERO: Eleanor of Acquitaine from the late 12th century. She was an excellent mother and a remarkable woman who was regent of England and also ruler of part of France.
OLDEST FRIEND: Grant Lawrence, a school friend, who I first met when we were both 13 in Edinburgh.
WIDEST SMILE: Making music with my family and their friends.
FAVOURITE DREAM: Conducting an orchestra in something luscious and beautiful like a Mahler symphony.
BIGGEST REGRET: Never having enough time to be really creative.