I met Norman in 1972 at the Japanese evening class at the
London Nautical School, run by Okuma san.
I remember there were also Brian Clasey, Don Cameron, three
policemen, and a lady of indeterminate age, but definitely not
young, known as Winifred Young, or Yoon san. There were probably others. One class
ended early so we could go to the party of a friend of Okuma san.
We got to the door, and I peered inside past Norman, and the room was full of
Japanese girls who were beckoning us in. Norman declined the
invitation, and I couldn't get past him. My feelings towards him were not mellow.
It was however Norman who introduced me to my next class, at
Red Lion Square, Holborn, to the only class there not run by Mr
Parker. Kikuko san was the teacher, I don't remember her surname, and among others in the class
were Len Martin, Owen Fasely, and Chris, surname forgotten, all of whom married Japanese girls.
We later shared a class in Pimlico. It was then I started to
go to Hashi no Kai. I was not a founder member, but soon became a
regular visitor to the basement in Newman Street, under Len Martin's offices. Gradually
children and other toils took over my life, and I left off going.
However, every year I had a party on New Year's Day, and Norman always came.
I didn't go back to Hashi no Kai until 1991, when I had just
finished a course on Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and
I was looking for some material to practise on. I asked Norman, who was round for the New Year Party, if I
could run a free class at Hashi no Kai. Hashi no Kai was at the
time in the doldrums, meeting in a rather grotty >small room in Conway Hall. The half dozen people who attended
all took part in the class, which occupied the first hour of the
meeting. Gradually the numbers increased, and we moved to a larger room, then to a pub on High Holborn,
and the class became more of a side show to the larger social
gathering. Norman had to change the night of the club to one I couldn't make, so I stopped going.
For many years, he came to my New Year's Day gathering, until
his health prevented him. He continued to be active in Hashi no
Kai. I visited his flat a few times, and was always made to feel welcome.
It was during his later years that he met the Queen, and I
still have the Christmas card he sent with him shaking her hand.