Not that this man is even nearly as old, but when I first met this member, he instantly reminded me of my father. A jolly Englishman with that dry British wit and wasn’t shy of downing a pint or two. (My father was actually Welsh, but who can tell the difference?) Almost impossible not to like, he has immersed himself into all the squash activities, has even played a tournament in Windsor, and can crack the ball pretty darn hard.
MEET… ALAN HOWARD
The Squash Joint (TSJ): “Tell us how you came about joining the DAC.”
I’m a member of Birmingham Athletic Club and had an invitation to dine just before Christmas. That’s really all it took, the gym, pool and location were all bonuses. Oh! I forgot to mention the squash – A classy joint! - The courts I mean not Mick.
TSJ: “What types of sports did you play at school in England and is that where you learnt to play squash?”
At school it was track, gymnastics and of course rugby. Squash was a sport I started on leaving school at 18. Track – I was not fast enough, Gymnastics I hated wearing tights, and rugby although I carried on for a few years started to hurt. I started playing squash at a club in Richmond where my rugby club was. By strange coincidence Richmond was a great town for pubs (bars in American) and that’s where I meet Sue my wife now for 37 years – she to this day hates squash and believes it’ll give me a heart attack!
TSJ: “Your business has you travelling and moving around a lot. Where have you lived and which place was your favorite?”
Heavens, that’s a long list. Outside of the UK (Where I was born) – France, Spain, Singapore, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and here in Detroit. My favorite place is none of these. Mick’s home country Australia, just perfect. I just went there too late in life! [Photo left: Alan playing a drum on the streets in India]
TSJ: “What was the last book you read?”
I do not read books, they take too long.
TSJ: “My father loved to watch British comedy series. “Yes Minister”, “Fawlty Towers”, Black Adder” just to name a few. Which was your favorite and are the any American comedy series you consider to be just as good?”
John Cleese and Fawlty Towers are classics and in that theme Monty Python. In that same time period but different I used to love the Rowland Martin’s Laugh In but I’m going back in years and showing my age.
TSJ: “What is the one part of your squash game you would desperately like to change and what is the one part of your game you see as your best weapon?”
As Mick will know my game is unsophisticated. When I was young it was that after a few rallies and I’ll start sweating badly and go extremely red. My opponents used to think I was unfit and dead. How wrong they were, I could run any ball down for more than an hour, the original Energizer Bunny. Now if I sweat and go red, I’m bushed and in need of oxygen!
TSJ: “You are at a karaoke bar and have had a couple pints too many. You insist on singing the next song and you choose one that you already know all the words to. What song is it?”
That’s easy. Having lived in Asia you need a set piece and I used to specialize in “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals – slow, no high notes and you can slaughter it without anyone noticing.
TSJ: “How have you so far enjoyed living in Detroit? Does your wife feel the same way?”
Just great and I really believe Detroit on the world stage gets a bad rap. The weather is fantastic and the blue skies are just special. Couple that with the people - friendly, down to earth and willing to accept a Brit with some very weird points of view, I am truly enjoying my time here. I have leant over the years not to answer for my nearest and dearest!
TSJ: “The DAC is inarguably one of the nicest clubs in the United States, if not the world. Is there anything aspect of the club that you would change?”
Fix the gas leak on the 3rd floor! But seriously no, I have only been a member since February this year and the customs and rules make the club. The staff in all departments – restaurant, sports, and the folks that handle cars are just special. Link that with the members, who have in my short time have made me feel so welcome. As an outsider I have never felt a stranger and have steadily built up a great set of friends.
TSJ: “If you didn’t have to work for the rest of your life, where would you go and what would you do?”
First, and as strange as it might seem I just love to work and I have a huge fear of that ending. I now have homes here in Detroit, London in the UK and Marbella in Spain, so have no problem living where I choose. I just love travel, in a few days I go to Jordan – Petra and the Dead Sea. So staying fit and healthy to carry on doing that is important. But I do have a dream. I’d like to drive from London to Singapore, which with the completion on the tunnel between UK and France is possible without ever getting on a boat or plane. So that’s on the bucket list along with walking Kilimanjaro, going to Tibet and going back to Melbourne, Australia to see just one more Aussie rules rugby game.
TSJ: “You have been given the ability to bring one famous person back to life. Who do you resurrect and why?”
Winston Churchill, he was inspirational as a leader in a time just before I was born and the UK with a different leader and outcome in WW II would have made my life so different. The movie the “Kings Speech” has awakened the thought believe it or not to read a book!
TSJ: “The last question is usually the most important and thought provoking one. Please take your time before answering… What is the one chore is the house you absolutely hate doing, but do it anyway?”
Being subservient to the boss!
Thank you very much to Alan for opening up to us. Make sure you say ‘Hi!” to him when you see him around the courts. He will surely be more than happy to share a cold beverage with you after a tough squash game or two! I would like to thank him for his candor in answering all of these ingenious questions and letting us in on a few personal topics. Maybe one day we could all be so lucky (or unlucky) to hear his rendition of “House of the Rising Sun” ! [Pictured above - Alan (back row on the left) and his lovely family]