The water company John Mowbray joined almost 30 years ago was a mere babbling brook compared to the mighty ocean it is today. Ahead of his impending early retirement, the Northumbrian Water chief tells Andrew Mernin about his remarkable career and looks forward to life on the open road.
What car do you drive?
An old VW Transporter Caravelle T3 and an Audi TT for practical purposes.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
It is always Romano’s in Cleadon for family and special occasions but I also like Bistro 21 and the coffee hut at the bottom of the Cat and Dog steps.
Who or what makes you laugh?
Old black and white comedy films – think Marx Brothers, Will Hay, etc.
What’s your favourite book?
I love reading and choice may seem odd but Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
What was the last album you bought?
Legends of the Lost and Found by Harry Chapin.
What’s your ideal job, other than the one you’ve got?
An archaeologist – I like ruins.
If you had a talking parrot, what’s the first thing you would teach it to say?
Wise men say ...
What’s your greatest fear?
What’s the best piece of business advice you have ever received?
Always listen to people.
And the worst?
Nobody ever sits down when they work for me.
What’s your poison?
Real ale, a drop of malt and red wine!
What newspapers do you read, other than The Journal?
Sunderland Echo and The Times.
How much was your first pay packet and what was it for?
About £10 and it was my first holiday job as a porter in Joplings store.
How do you keep fit?
I like to walk a lot in the twin resorts of Roker and Seaburn as well as the Lakes, if that all counts.
What’s your most irritating habit?
Home says I am a touch sarcastic, work says tapping my fingers on my desk!
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Music, books and gadgets.
Which historical or fictional character do you most identify with or admire?
The Venerable Bede for his history and because he lived just down the road.
Which four famous people would you most like to dine with?
Leonardo da Vinci, Duncan Edwards, Spike Milligan and a conqueror (Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar or Genghis Khan – just to get into their heads!).
How would you like to be remembered?
As a canny DJ who usually found dawn!