Harold Greenberg


Born - 1942 ; Location - London, England ; Sport - Windsurfer


It's said that curiosity killed the cat, but for Harold Greenberg curiosity is the fuel that has powered his journey through life.


 It took him from being a school-leaver in the early 1950's into an apprenticeship which provided him with 50 years of skilled work as a watchmaker. He bemoans the fact that these days companies have to rely on imported skills rather than having their own training schemes, such as the one from which he benefited.


He has been windsurfing for over 30 years, since the early days of the sport. And it was his curiosity that brought him to it, as it did with other parts of his life. He heard about windsurfing when it started, decided to give it a go and is still doing it. He describes it as one of his "obsessions" alongside riding his motorbike, and his interest in the arts, of which more later.


He doesn't do anything specifically to keep in shape. In fact he's proud to say that he can "creak for my country". However, he thinks that windsurfing itself keeps him fit and he says that he is the only person he knows who at his age isn't on "pills and potions, unctions and lotions". He has, however, accepted that things have changed for him as he has gotten older. He doesn't sail, for instance, with as large a sail as he used to as the state of his back and his knees make pulling the sail out of the water too difficult. But he doesn't use those things as any kind of excuse for quitting, and is proud to let us know that he is a year-round wind-surfer. "If it ain't frozen, I'll sail" he says, also letting us know that in the winter he was back on the water the day after the frozen reservoir had thawed.


He surfs, as he has done from the start, at the British Transport Yacht Club, a sailing and latterly wind-surfing club based on the Welsh Harp, a reservoir in north west London situated just north of the North Circular Road in London. The Welsh Harp is an undiscovered miracle of London life, being 70 acres of water situated within a Site of Special Scientific Interest. As Harold is proud to say, during his years working in central London, he could leave work at 6.00pm, jump on his motor-bike and be on the water in 30 minutes. One of the other reasons for Harold's fondness for the club is its laid-back atmosphere, the lack of an agenda or pecking order. In fact, he is a great enthusiast of the club, continually trying to recruit new members, enjoying its family atmosphere and contrasting it extremely favourably with other locations where he has from time to time sailed when he has been forced to by maintenance draining of the reservoir.


Even after his retirement from working in central London, the convenience of the location is still an attraction, and the main reason why he doesn't often - or ever - sail elsewhere. Windsurfing is only one part of his life, and the fact that he is able to get some time on the the water without a drive of several hours to get to the coast is a great advantage.


These other parts of his life, which he enjoys and which mean that he is happy not to have to travel several hours in order to windsurf include watchmaking, which he still does despite being retired, as well as restoring antique clocks. He is also interested in the arts, photography - in which he dabbles - going to the theatre and visiting art galleries. He says that he is a traditionalist, but that his innate curiosity means that he will look at anything. He mentions American artists Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper as two great illustrators. And Bill Brandt and David Bailey as two photographers whose work he admires. But he also says that in his own photography he has learnt more from the artist Vermeer than from anyone else.


He is also a music lover - but an untutored one, saying that he doesn't know anything about it but he likes the noise it makes!


As he says, if you're curious about life when you're young you'll continue to be curious about it when you're older. If you're game for anything when you're young, you'll be game for anything when you're older. That certainly applies to Harold!

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