Lillian and Norman Haddock had been members of the Committee at the Vale of Vaysey Riding club for decades. They were re-elected at successive AGMs and retained their seats regardless of changes at the helm of the Club.
The Haddocks attributed their longevity to hard work and a generally perceived “niceness.”
Their real secret, however, was that they did not aspire to power or pose a threat to anyone.
As jobs were allocated to the Committee members for the Club’s programme of show-jumping galas, one day events and dressage competitions, the duo of Norman and Lillian were invariably inked-in for ring announcer and commentator duties.
Lillian’s numerous jobs included the collation of competitor lists, scoring and keeping an eagle eye out for fences down and other infringements.
Mrs Haddock was the unchallenged mistress of the Club’s Longines stopwatch and pushed the button to ring the very loud bell to announce the beginning or unfortunate early end of every round.
When it was time for dressage to music, Lillian cued the music over the public address system precisely as required.
Everyone at the Club knew that whilst
To be honest, the spotlight tended to go to
’s head on occasion and he was testy if not downright snappy if the correct name or information wasn’t immediately to hand when needed. Norman
On the rare occasions that Lillian had actually gained solo control of the microphone, when Norman had to attend to call of nature, he was not above intervening with a correction on his return.
For her part Lillian bore such humiliations and periodic brusqueness with patience and resignation. Occasionally she would “go quiet" for a good twenty minutes in protest at a particularly rude contradiction, but
“He’s off again” she thought as
Only on one memorable occasion, thinking the microphone was switched off, did Lillian tell Norman in surprisingly graphic Anglo-Saxon terms "where to stick your patronising corrections."
Members still quote Lilian's remarks and Norman's blustering protestations in response: "Steady on Lil, old girl. It seems a chap can't make a constructive observation. Keep yer hair on." Despite incidents such as this, on most occasions, Lillian still did her best to accommodate Norman’s demands, glares and finger-snapping in the commentary box.
He thought of himself as a great communicator in the proud equestrian tradition of the legendary Dorian Williams.
“More like Doreen Williams at the off-licence” thought Lillian, quietly.