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When Someone Lives Up To Their Name With Very Interesting Results (Or - The Day I Ended Up Wondering If A Badge Still Exists)
People from my past can stay in my memory for all kinds of reasons.  The reasons range from me feeling comfortable being around them, me hoping I never have to enter their orbit again, them educating me about something (whether or not they are being paid to), them having an unusual accent, them having an unusual name, them just being unusual themselves, or, them wearing something which makes total sense to both me and them but might not exactly be seen as appropriate by other people (and their response to being told to take it off), or there is something about them which appeals to my love of the kind of games you can play with languages.

If I am totally honest about myself I love people with a bit of a twist to them.  If you can stick in my brain for over 30 years because of something you said or did around the time we first met (and it occasionally makes me wonder what you are doing now and hope you are still enjoying your existence) you can't go far wrong.  The icing on the cake would be if we met up again after over 20 years and (whilst you might have physically changed almost beyond recognition) you are still the same kind, friendly person I remember from all those years ago.

That is exactly what happened to me this morning.  I met up with an old school friend who still managed to live up to the Dutch definition of his name in the best possible way.  The interesting thing about that is - he is actually from Sweden.

If I tell you that I have always admired Anders Mankert for being a bit "anders" (as in the Dutch word for "different") you might start to get a bit worried about either me or him.  There is no need to though.  As I am about to explain.

My overriding memory of Anders is from when both of us were sitting in our Tutor group (probably in the first term of the first year of Secondary school) and him getting told off.  Well, it wasn't the fact he got told off that stuck in my brain - more the reason for the telling off and how he responded to it with impeccable logic way beyond his years.

Anders was wearing a badge saying "I am a Swede".  Our form tutor had a total sense of humour bypass as a result of this and told him off for wearing an immature badge.  Anders went up in my estimation with his response.  All he could say was "I was born in Sweden.  That makes me a Swede".  Game, set, and match to Mr Mankert.

Today I had the sheer pleasure of being able to spend time with Anders as we walked around the site of his latest venture - a golf course in Leicester.  The way he explained his vision of what he wants to achieve just reminded me of the boy with the badge and the quick response.

I think the best way to describe his vision for the golf course is as follows - take one rulebook (stating dress code, rules of etiquette for being on a golf course, membership fees, reasons for being anywhere in the vicinity of the aforementioned golf course, etc), rip it up, and start from scratch - building a golf course you yourself would be happy to play at.  (If you can make someone like me feel welcome and catered for using technology, you are definitely onto a winner as far as I am concerned.)

What I am going to say next may sound a little strange but the way Anders managed to infect me with his enthusiasm for the project wasn't his obvious passion for golf, or him talking about how he came up with the idea, or the time and resources he has put into it.  It was Anders Mankert being the Anders Mankert I remembered from school - a kind of person who cares about people.  (Put it this way - I can reel off a very long list of names of children who bullied me in Secondary school.  His name is nowhere to be seen on that list.  He may not have directly stuck up for me but I always felt safe when he was around.)

I wish him every success in his venture (and I look forward to being able to review the place when it opens in a few weeks).

I never thought I would actually end up feeling extremely privileged to count someone I went to school with as a friend as well as feeling proud and honoured to be given a sneak preview of something so fantastic.

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