It’s an honour knowing William

PUBLISHED: 12:10 22 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 May 2010

USUALLY, I view the Queen s New Year s Honours and Birthday Honours lists with some scepticism. There s not one that goes by without my exclaiming in disgust: Why on earth did he (or she) get that gong. I m talking here about civil service mandarins clo

USUALLY, I view the Queen's New Year's Honours and Birthday Honours lists with some scepticism.

There's not one that goes by without my exclaiming in disgust: "Why on earth did he (or she) get that gong."

I'm talking here about civil service mandarins cloaked in anonymity throughout their long murky existence in the corridors of power until the time comes for these time servers to receive their expected reward.

Then there are the business people who have made their millions while establishing themselves firmly on the old boys' network and have accepted what they see as their just desserts.

To me, the masters of the gracious smile while grabbing an undeserved honour are the politicians.

Look back through history and see how many horrendously unscrupulous and downright dishonest occupants of the House of Commons ended up as knights and lords.

Not all MPs are as bad as that, of course, and some do good works deserving of an honour but I'm sure that as a breed they get too many official plaudits coming their way.

The same can be said, I reckon, about sports people who seem to get the recognition - along with loads of cash - simply because they are physically good at something, while being unexceptional at anything else.

Something similar could be said about the lovey dovey world of acting.

But the cult of celebrity is all powerful these days, I'm sorry to say.

On the positive side of the Queen's Honours, I like to see what could be described as the ordinary person getting recognition, from a lollipop man or a school dinner lady who has toiled away quietly but efficiently for years to someone who has done sterling work in the community.

Such a one is William Armitage who richly deserves his MBE.

He is not just a person known to thousands of people as the "face" of David's Bookshop in Letchworth GC.

He has been involved in running it since his parents started the business around 40 years ago in a tiny shop unit just a doorway away from the Eastern Electricity showroom which is now the Hogshead pub in Station Place.

I used to frequent the place in those early days and I think I was the first customer of what has become an important part of David's business empire.

One day, someone went into the bookshop and asked if they also dealt in records.

The shop did not but, seeing a new business opportunity, accepted the LP being offered for sale and put it on a shelf.

I came along and promptly bought it. I still have it in my collection - there's George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue on one side and An American in Paris on the other.

The person who sold it to me was William Armitage.

Over the years he and David's have become an essential part of the local community.

And that is why the unassuming chap I have known all this time has truly earned the honour bestowed upon him.

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