The link is to a blog on my website, in which I try (as honestly and openly as possible) to describe how it feels to have lived with a form of depression for over forty years. Please feel free to have a read….
Back to the challenges, a word that is perhaps something of a misnomer when it came to no.80… to be photographed with a beauty queen.
I was able to get in touch with Alexandra Devine, a former Miss Tees Valley in her own right, who is also a director of Envied Events, the company which organises the Miss North Yorkshire competition; and Alexandra arranged for me to meet the recently-crowned Miss North Yorkshire, Emily Austin, during a photo shoot at Solberge Hall near Northallerton.
The last beauty contest winner I can actually remember is Hólmfríður Karlsdóttir (the beautiful Miss Iceland), who won the Miss World title in 1985. She was actually born exactly one year earlier than me, so if my maths is correct, she should be about 35 now….
Give or take.
In stark contrast, Emily is just eighteen years of age. If that didn’t make me feel old, the fact that she is eight and twelve years younger than my two daughters most definitely did.
When I arrived Alexandra was getting ready to take a series of photos of Emily on an ornate chaise longue—just your average hotel furniture; we certainly don’t have one in our house (at least we didn’t the last time I looked).
Alexandra took us outside (apparently grey hair photographs better in natural light) and after a quick chat Emily and I posed for a few pictures taken with both my camera and Alexandra’s; the latter being a slightly more impressive piece of equipment than my vintage instamatic!
Emily’s role will involve supporting Miss North Yorkshire’s partner charity, Zoë’s Place, a baby hospice situated just a mile or so from where I live, which does such amazing work. A Facebook page set up to follow Emily throughout her reign and it would be great if some of you could click “like” and keep in touch with how her year is progressing.
Obviously that’s not entirely accurate! I look my usual portly awkward self, whilst Emily has a seemingly effortless poise that belies her years. It promises to be an exciting year ahead for the new Miss North Yorkshire; and I hope she enjoys every moment.
Less than twenty-four hours later, there was another task ticked off the list as I successfully recalled the names and spellings of the 196 capital cities of the world in less than 15 minutes.
It had taken a while to learn some of the less obvious ones. It’s particularly difficult to learn the capital of a country when you haven’t actually heard of the country! In addition, there were a few (mainly African) countries that all started “Ma…” and they were some of the last ones to stick in my mind: Maseru, Malabo, Maputo, Majuro….
Lesotho, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique and the Marshall Islands (I hope!).
I’d done a couple of practice runs and my memory and typing seemed up to the job, but the actual test was done at work and witnessed by a couple of colleagues. I must admit that I was slightly concerned that I would go blank when the “pressure” was on, but the only one I actually stumbled over was Castries, the capital of Saint Lucia.
The last country on the list was Zimbabwe, and as soon as I’d typed Harare, the clock was stopped: 11 minutes and 37 seconds… one second faster than my best practice time.
It’s strange how you can reel off a long list of place names, yet if you go to the shop for a handful of essentials, there’s always something you forget. For that reason, I was pleased that I showed my memory san till function pretty well… sixty-six challenges down, nineteen still to go.