Every Monday we profile one of our Members. This week in we are joined by Proprietor 269, Colin Langeveld.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of The Athenaeum.
Who are you ?
Due to the increasing Afrikaner aggression towards English speaking South Africans, ( I remember being threatened as we remained standing to God Save the Queen at our local cinema), my father decided to move to what we knew as the ‘Mother Country’. He also knew that a republic was looming. I had just completed my grammar school education so he took the bull by the horns, so to speak.
My parents were born before 1920 In what was then the Cape Colony and therefore they did not need passports. Following a brief spell in Plymouth we settled in Liverpool and spent our first White Christmas in Knotty Ash.
I passed my civil service exam and spent the next 25 years with the Ministry of Defence. I also joined the Liverpool Scottish, becoming the second South African to join the regiment, Basil Rathbone being the first.
There are, at times, occurrences that change our lives. For most of my reading life , I have enjoyed history, science fiction and fantasy novels and I had the great fortune to meet up with one of the genre’s finest cover artists, Eddie Jones. He invited me to join him at the 1977 World Science fiction convention in Miami where artists are given the opportunity to display and sell their artwork. Once back in the UK I decided to show Eddie some examples of my work. He kindly sent photographs of them to his agent in Germany who invited me to join his stable of artists. I was also commissioned to illustrate works for various Sherlockian societies.
What is your greatest achievement ?
In 2010 I was awarded an ‘Honorary Scouser’ by the Lord Mayor, Steve Rotherham. Among those who also received the honour at a banquet given at the Town Hall were The Lord Lieutenant, Dame Lorna Muirhead and Vasily Petrenko, chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 1986 I received the Imperial Service Medal
Can you give one interesting fact about yourself ?
I enjoy cooking, painting in oils and acrylics and digital art. I also have an interest in astronomy. Some years ago I was a member of the Liverpool Astronomical Society where I first met Patrick Moore.
What brought you to the Athenaeum ?
I have been on the committee of The Friends of Croxteth Hall and Country Park for many years. Also sitting on the committee is Stephen Guy who kindly invited my good lady and I to lunch at the Athenaeum. It was as if I’d stepped into one of my favourite novels and instantly felt at home. I was impressed with the smart dress code, well up to standard with the gentleman’s clubs in London, however, the camel’s back was broken when I entered the library, the ambience , that delicious smell of books, works by some of my favourite authors; Rider Haggard, Conan Doyle plus volumes of historical references.
When Stephen offered to sponsor me, I leapt at the opportunity.
Is there anything you would like to change about the Athenaeum ?
No – however it is the decline in the dress that does sadden me. It is something that sets us apart from other clubs in Liverpool. What I find interesting is that our younger Proprietors take our dress code seriously and are often among some of the best dressed . When I dined at The Army and Navy club I noticed that jackets were not removed and ties were worn.
As we share reciprocity with similar clubs in London, so must they share it with us. Let us hope that when they visit us, they see we share similar standards.
Do you have any memories or stories of the Club you would like to share?
I had not long been a proprietor and had spent most of my time in the library consequently, the opportunity to meet with fellow members had not arisen. While seated in the the library on one particular Wednesday , I heard footsteps and mutterings of men ascending the stairs to the dining room. Feeling peckish I decided to follow them.
The first thing that drew my attention was that of a group of men seated at the long top table. I gingerly took my seat some distance away, and had not long settled when the voice, not dissimilar from a sergeant major, addressed me.
“Why are you sitting over there on your own, come and join us . This is the club table.”
The association and friendship I made that day, and consequently, those who later came on Wednesdays proved to be one of the most fortunate days of my life. I could not have met a more kinder, caring and interesting group of people who made me welcome.
What would you say to anyone considering joining the Club ?
If you want to meet people with a vast amount of interesting experiences, good conversation, being looked after by first class staff and a chef who offers excellent food, this is the place for you. Let us not forget our library that is used by scholars world wide. Rare books that you, as a Proprietor, may withdraw and the opportunity to attend various, interesting lectures. Our black tie dinners are also highly recommended.