IT wasn’t until they closed the pit in his village that Maurice ventured outside Yorkshire.

At 50 and still a bachelor he reluctantly packed his colliery plumber’s bag, caught the limited stop bus (pointless overspending on a rail ticket) and ended up in Swindon. Two years later he met Joyce; they moved to Cowley and the rest is history – as he told me when we met for the first time in my favourite Covered Market café.

“I’ve gone as far as I want to,” he said. “Foreign countries are for foreigners.”

That was a dozen years ago.

This Christmas Joyce achieved the impossible: she persuaded him they should spend the week in southern Spain, all very exciting. But it almost fell apart – and he reckons it was my fault!

I had persuaded him to buy some of my favourite shaving cream. He should try to impress the señoras – or even señoritas. He bought the big 250g bottle – it was more economic.

Unfortunately this did not impress the Gatwick security staff who pointed out the permitted limits for liquids. It was confiscated. This was too much for Maurice.

“I’m not a terrorist – I’m a Yorkshireman!” he boomed.

“So was Guy Fawkes,” replied the impassive official as he slipped the bottle into a bag marked with a forbidding cross.

Future travel plans? I dare not ask.

OKAY, so the weather has been lousy for the best part of a month but the county’s theatres big and small have done their best – and I suggest succeeded – to lighten the gloom.

In Oxford the New Theatre’s presentation of Annie and Pegasus’s A Christmas Carol, closed last weekend, while the curtain comes down on Aladdin at the Playhouse on Sunday.

Both large theatres are smiling at the reaction (and support) of the public. Stephanie Tye, the New Theatre’s press officer said ‘targets had been met’ – which is showbiz speak for ‘we’ve done fine’ – while at the Playhouse staff are still taking the cash – with broad smiles.

Thank you – everyone.

“What did you think of Aladdin’s feisty, no-nonsense, kick-ass princess?” enthused a best unnamed female Clerk in Holy Orders chum who had clearly felt the same as I about the surprise portrayal by North o’ the Border-born Oxford School of Drama graduate Kiran Sonia Sawar.

I beamed. The only princess I gave my young heart to is now Queen of England, so I hope that after my lifetime of undivided loyalty, Her Majesty will not object to sharing...

THOUGHT for the day... posed by a 43-year-old gran whose eye twinkle is as strong as ever: “Why are most male models pictured with prickly beards?

“Are they trying to keep us girls at bay?”