Where did you first develop an interest in wine?
Back in the early 70s I used to make my own blackberry wine from fruit that I'd picked myself - a real DIY job. Didn't taste too bad actually. I did have one problem with it once though. I used to ferment it in our airing cupboard and one day the top of the container blew off staining all our laundry! After that I started to buy wine on our regular trips to Spain - 50p a bottle!
Where was your first job?
I've always worked. I started off working for a butcher when I was 13 years old - delivering and helping in the shop. He was called Mr Bailey and chain smoked all the time at work. Mind you, he thought me how to bone meat properly which I still find useful. After that I worked in Bonners, the vegetable shop in the Oxford covered market. My first proper job though was working at the British Motor Corporation, formerly Morris Motors in Cowley. All my family worked there, Mum, Dad and all my relatives - I started as an office boy and then worked as a motor mechanic for 14 years.
Describe your role in The Oxford Wine Company
I'm just the driver! It'll be 5 years next month - I'm almost part of the furniture.
What recent trends have you spotted amongst your customers?
They seem to be getting further and further away - as far as 60 or 70 miles some of them - even though it says local deliveries on my van!
What is the worst bottle of wine you have ever tasted?
Home made "Runner Bean" wine. It was at a party at Jan's who also works for The Oxford Wine Company. Somebody had brought it along. It tasted foul, chemical in fact. I wouldn't even put it down the drain.
And the best?
I like The Ned Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand It suits my palate, I like the flavour and it's not too expensive.
If you weren't in the wine trade, which career might you have chosen?
Well I've had quite a few jobs as it is. I was a milk man for a year before I joined Pearl Insurance, whilst I was waiting for my redundancy to come through from British Leyland. That was a cold job - being a milkman, not the Pearl. That winter was so cold the bottles would freeze to the pavement. After that I did 23 years with the Pearl - that was a good job in the early days - you could work your own hours and it was well paid too. But my last boss and me didn't get on - one day he said to me "You need the Pearl more than the Pearl needs you" - that was it - I handed in my notice the next day.
Who would you invite to a dinner party and why?
Peter Ustinov because he'd tell a good story. Robin Williams because because he's such a character. Ben Elton the motormouth so I could eat my dinner whilst he talked - you couldn't shut him up - I like the non stop banter, though he drives my wife up the wall. And Lenny Henry because I like him, he's amusing and he's a brummie.
Most memorable wine related moment?
I had lunch at The Manoir once and didn't pay the bill - I think! Our neighbours are very into food and wine and took us along. The wine was good there. Then there was another time on a boat in Phuket, Thailand. We spent the whole day out on this yacht drinking great wine and eating food wrapped in palm leaves that was served on the deck. After that a guide took us in canoes to the neighbouring island where we went through some caves and finally came out in the centre of the island which was hollow. That was amazing.
What will you drink this weekend?
Whatever's in the rack. I like oaky reds, especially Rioja which I got into in Spain where I've been going on and off for the last 35 years. I also like the Montes Oaked Merlot from Chile.
What interests do you have outside wine?
DIY. I'll do anything apart from plumbing. Building walls, patios, painting and decorating, wall papering - you name it. It's occupational therapy for me. I get satisfaction from doing something well - I'm really fussy and don't want other people messing things up. I like to have a project on the go otherwise I get bored. But did I tell you? I'm every woman's dream - I love shopping! I also like country walks - circular pub walks are the best because there's no repetition and you end up back at the pub in time for lunch - what could be better?