Brief Encounter #15

Annie Lennox and Terry Butcher


These two brief encounters are linked by geography and unique car registration plates!

The first occurred in October 1990, while I was driving north on the M6 and M74 to Scotland begin a new job and a new life at The Oban Times. I had passed Penrith and was motoring along quite happily in my sporty Fiat Uno Turbo when suddenly I was overtaken at speed by a gold coloured BMW 6 series. The rogue car must have been travelling at about 90mph, and two things struck me: the driver was steering one handed while using his brick of a mobile phone, and the car registration was a striking TB1. I continued on my way and thought no more of my over-taker. But about 30 miles further on in my journey on the M74, I came across the same car near Ecclefechan in the Scottish Borders. This time the driver was travelling at a more sedate 50mph in the slow lane. I noticed he was still deep in conversation on his mobile phone. As I overtook the BMW, I glanced and immediately recognised the driver’s face… it was Terry Butcher, the former England and Rangers football captain – hence TB1. Five miles further on, TB overtook me again!

Two days later the national media announced that Terry had quit Rangers to become player/manager of First Division Coventry City FC. I guess the guy had some negotiating to do the day our paths crossed.

The brief encounter with rock diva Annie Lennox was equally surprising, a little more tactile and occurred where the northbound M6 and M74 meet.

It was a couple of days prior to New Year 1991/92 and my partner and I decided to stop at Todhills services for a welcome break and a cup of coffee. As I pulled into the car-park I noticed a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud parked up, with the unique registration ANNIE 1. Who could own this car?

We wandered into the restaurant to be greeted by a cacophony of noise and laughter. We looked to our left to find that a third of the eating area had been taken over by some arty/muso types and at their heart was the instantly recognisable Annie Lennox. We stayed for half an hour, drank our coffees and caught snatches of their conversations. It was clear, that like many exile Scots they were travelling north for Hogmanay. Sweet dreams are made of this!

  • A short post script: some seven years later, at exactly the same service station, I physically bumped into Scotland football manager Craig Brown, while paying for my petrol. Sorry, Craig, you don’t quite have the same oomph credits as Annie Lennox, but you did have the grace to apologise and say “excuse me”!

Poem: The night awakes

Last night I was woken by a scream

It came to me from someone else’s dream

The dark it leapt in echoes across the room

My fears stood in shadows before the half lit moon

And when I closed my eyes

The night was gone too soon

You lay asleep with your head against my arm

I held you tight to keep you safe from harm

Outside the wind it whistled softly in the trees

An owl it screeched on the lonely autumn breeze

And when I closed my eyes

I heard the rattle of your keys

So stand back you dark shadows of my past

What you gain now we know will never last

Don’t play games to hurt my family or my son

For the winner here still has a race to run

And when I close my eyes

The loser has now won