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Infill THe Deirdre interview

“For the love of god please don’t tell Jude what happened between us...”

had to handle the locks alone for the rest of the cruise. I don’t like solo handling, I think it’s one of the reasons I’ve been married so many times.

Q: Have you led any camps? A: I did have one foray into leadership back in the late nineties: I felt it was a spectacular success and I got on really well with my team, especially the young D of E kids who I was determined to make sure enjoyed themselves fully and found the experience eye opening and rewarding. Unfortunately the committee and some narrow-minded sections of Wiltshire police and social services didn’t see things the same way, and although no prosecution ever arose the board and I agreed my talents could best serve WRG in other ways. I’d just like to clarify that both boys were over 18 and so it wasn’t actually statutory rape, despite what some sordid tabloid stories claimed at the time.

Q: You’ve had an eventful life: what made you decide to become Navvies agony columnist? A: Well it was Mike Palmer who begged me to accept the post actually. I think his exact words were “you can have any job you like, but for the love of god please don’t tell Jude what happened between us”. I embraced the role gladly in the knowledge there are a lot of confused, loveless WRGies out there in need of my tenderness and advice. I like to think my wise counsel shines light into the darker areas of the WRG heart. It’s heart warming to know I’ve personally assisted WRGies at some of the more difficult periods in their lives. Since I’ve started my column I’ve been named in at least 3 divorce cases, which I like to think shows the impact my humble column has had.

Q: You’ve recently married for the fifth time, do you draw on your own romantic experience in your column?

A: Relentlessly. I don’t think there’s anyone in waterway restoration with the breadth and depth of relationship experience as me. I’ve been married to a solicitor, a bishop and a ski instructor thirty years my junior. And, not in the same order, a pervert, a womaniser and a compulsive liar. It’s just a shame my husbands have never listened to the jolly good advice I’ve given them or more of those marriages might have worked out. As my fourth husband Robert would say to me “you’re always bloody right aren’t you?”. I’d have to agree with him. I’ve always been generous with my wisdom with those around me. Especially for my children, at least those I’m on speaking terms with.

Q: Do you feel that your current marriage will be your last? A: Absolutely. I’ve been 100% committed to every one of my marriages and I know that what I have with Ahmed is for life, despite the huge age gap and the massive cultural and religious differences between us. It’s just a shame that his family back in Egypt are being so difficult about the whole thing.

Q: You’ve recently converted to Islam, is it true that you’ll be changing your name? A: Ahmed insisted I convert before the wedding, which was a traditional Bedouin ceremony marred only by Chastity’s refusal to ceremonially slit the goat’s throat at the feast afterwards. I feel very happy and fulfilled in my new faith, although there are some aspects I won’t be bothering with like all the prayers and fasting and stuff. Ahmed and I discussed me changing my name to the traditional Islamic name ‘Daleela¡’, which means guide, as I felt that was appropriate for my Navvies role. However I’d just had a new batch of my pamphlets printed, including Crewing for two: How to build a lasting marriage, and I didn’t want to have to pulp them all. ‘Dear Daleela¡’ does have quite a ring to it though, doesn’t it!

Q: So what do you think the future holds for the waterways? A: Hopefully lots of bickering and heartache. Plenty for me to write about for years to come!

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 242  

Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.

Navvies 242  

Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.