23 November 2018 – From Les Birch

Dear Reg,

Your piece [about Whitaker’s Almanacs on Facebook] reminded me of an episode in the 80s during the early years of my retirement when I was wandering round some little town in Gloucestershire (can’t remember which one) and I went into a second-hand bookshop where I was confronted by a run of Whitaker’s from the early 1940s. I opened the 1949 edition to see my first appearance on its pages as Officer I/c Nottingham, opened in September 1948 – not many EOs manage an entry and I think Barbara Weaver was there as well. I disappeared in I think 1952 only to reappear in I think the 1963 edition as ADE1, subsequently ADP1 then of course Edinburgh and Wales and the West. So if you want to refresh memories of your career find a run of Whitaker’s.

The Omaha Beach trip went off well as usual. Interesting menu for the Gala Dinner started with scallops and foie gras followed by fillet of turbot and mushrooms and (now I quote directly from the menu) “Jack the Little farci”. This completely stumped not only me but also my much Michelin-starred dining daughter Hilary. I do not doubt that you sophisticated East Anglicans know just what that is but in case you do not it was in fact baby pumpkins stuffed, of course, with the mushrooms. I had never seen miniature pumpkins before but very interesting.

Best wishes to yourself and all for Christmas and the New Year (hard to believe 2019) and will be in touch again when something interesting happens.



Hello Les

Excellent to hear from you on the subject of HMSO’s place in Whitaker’s Almanacks, and especially to hear that the Omaha Beach trip went well. You do live high on the hog out there. As you can imagine, baby pumpkins stuffed with mushrooms was a signature dish in the Tooting pie-houses of my youth. Thank you for your good wishes, and all the very best to you and yours for the festivities and for 2019 and beyond.