Today was an ordinary working day when out of the blue Tony Benn rang to thank me for sending him a copy of my book.
He said he had enjoyed reading it and had passed it on to his son to read as part of a management course. Of course I was delighted that he enjoyed reading the book and that he had said some nice things about it - but more than that, we were simply gob-smacked that he took the time and trouble to ring me with his comments.
Tony Benn is 80 years of age and suffered a fall at the recent Labour Party Conference resulting in a head injury. He explained this had resulted in cutting back on his working schedule and postponing 43 ...yes 43 speaking engagements before Christmas.
Not bad for an 80 year old aye?
Mr Benn spoke to both Annie and I and he seemed as interested in us as we clearly were in him. We hope to meet him one day in the New Year at a speaking engagement when he is back on the road.
This was another powerful illustration to me of how someone can rise to almost the pinnacle of British politics and yet remain as approachable and 'grounded' as anyone I have ever met in my life.
No pretentiousness - no arrogance - no conceit - just good manners, dignity, respect and humility. A real gentleman.