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To Stroke a Cheetah, an Autobiography by Captain D. B. Hopkins

To be asked to write a few words by way of a Foreword to this autobiography is a real privilege. Despite the fact that our careers have taken each of us along very different paths, the author and I do share a common interest. We are both passionately fond of speaking and writing our native language. The use of English presents wonderful opportunities to those with a lively sense of humour and Derek Hopkins has filled each chapter of his book with colourful anecdotes and sensitive observations of those he has encountered during his three score years and ten.

From his schooldays, through his long career as a pilot, to his days as chauffeur to the famous, Derek practises the advice of the Headmaster who told him that he should seek to learn something new every day. Many of these 'learning experiences' will make you laugh - and some will make your hair stand on end!

I take issue with the use of only one word in the whole book. On the title page, the author describes himself as a very ordinary person. In the pages that follow we learn of his skills as a car mechanic, an aviator, a builder, a gardener, a diplomat and a humorist - not to mention his role as a husband and a father. In my opinion, his is an extraordinary story - not of an ordinary person, but of a rather special person. I am proud to be included among his many friends, and I commend to you his story - I know you will enjoy it.

John Davey

Formerly Chief Executive, Trinity College London

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