Lawrence (Luke) Mastin of Bakewell and Toronto
(Born 14th August 1959.)
Lawrence was born in the bedroom of his mother and father, Zaira Rosa (née Ceretta) and Kevin (Ken) Mastin, in Bakewell, Derbyshire on 14th August 1959.
He attended the local grammar-school-turned-comprehensive, Lady Manners School, where he was able to shine academically, largely due to years spent book-learning at home during a sickly childhood. After school, he went on to do a degree in Accountancy at Warwick University, where a liberal amount of drinking and carousing was mixed in with the coursework. Faced with a potential descent into alcoholism at one point, though, he gave up drinking completely, and therefore managed to scrape a degree together. University was also where the nickname Luke came from, and for some reason it stuck, and most people outside of the immediate family have known him as Luke ever since.
After university, he hung around Coventry for the next couple of years thoroughly enjoying doing nothing much, but then he met Julie Wood who was still finishing her degree there. She managed to convince him that if he did not get a job soon he would be considered unemployable, so they both ended up moving to London where Luke worked for Touche Ross as an accountant. He hated the work, and stayed in it only long enough to get his professional accounting qualification (about 4 years), and then resigned as soon as possible.
Julie, the stable part of the relationship, had a good job with a bank in the city, and so they could afford for Luke to go self-employed as an accountant and bookkeeper, mainly working with various small left-wing pressure groups, community organisations and small charities. During the 1980s in London, both Luke and Julie were heavily involved with CND, Greenpeace and various other anti-nuclear and human rights groups.
In 1989, Julie's bank offered her a post in Toronto, Canada, an offer they quickly accepted, cats and all, despite it being mid-winter there (it was -25°C on the day they arrived). As they were not legally married, Luke was technically not allowed to work there (which of course suited him fine!), and he actually spent most of the wonderful 3½ years in Canada as an illegal immigrant. They fell into a mutually acceptable regime whereby Luke did most of the housework, cooking, etc, (leaving him a fair bit of leisure time) and Julie earned the money. It is a beautiful country, and they both loved the wilderness camping, canoeing, hiking, etc, and they made many good friends. Luke visited all ten provinces, as well as all but four or five of the fifty American states, often by delivering cars across the continent, or just taking off for a week or so in his own car, and they were both very sad when the bank's contract expired and they had to return to England in 1992.
Back in comparatively depressing England, Luke spent a year and a half completely renovating their house in London and, just as it was finished, Julie was offered a new post in, of all places, Venezuela. So off they went like a shot again, with the remaining one of their two cats.
They lived in Caracas for over three years, watching the economy go down the drain, and waiting for the next coup, while the students rioted in the streets with alarming regularity. Venezuela is a frustrating and exasperating place where nothing works, corruption is rife, two-thirds of the population live below the poverty level, and inflation at that time was creeping up towards 100% a year. But, living in ex-patriate luxury as they did, they were largely unaffected by such details. It is also a beautiful place, with a near-perfect climate, Caribbean beaches, untouched rain-forests, snow-capped mountains, vast plains rich in wildlife, old colonial towns and primitive Indian villages. So Luke, still unable to work, started travelling again, throughout all the states of Venezuela, as well as to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, taking copious amounts of photos and learning Spanish as he went.
Things changed somewhat halfway through their stay in Venezuela, with the rather unexpected arrival of baby Elena in April 1995. Luke and Julie finally got around to marrying in January 1995, by which time Julie was "heavy with child" as they say, although actually the marriage was mainly a way of regularizing Luke's civil status. They still managed to travel, even with Elena in tow, although perhaps on a less ambitious scale. Part of the "deal", however, was that Luke helped to look after Elena while Julie was away on business trips (albeit with the help of a nanny!), and he got to make a few trips on his own to some of the more unexplored parts of the country and the rest of South America.
Lawrence (Luke), Julie and Elena in New York, June 2000
Three years later, in August 1997, they moved to Bogotá, Colombia. Although in some respects this was out of the frying pan and into the fire, in other respects Colombia was a breath of fresh air after Venezuela. Despite its terrible reputation, it is actually a lovely country, with beautiful scenery, lots of history, and the most polite and friendly people you could ever wish to meet. More travelling around South America ensued (Peru, Argentina, Chile), and, although travel in much of Colombia was considered inadvisable at best, he managed to circumvent many of the Embassy's rules and travelled extensively anyway. During their stay in Colombia the personal security situation deteriorated still more and, to cut a long story short, the Venezuela and Colombia years are well-documented online in Luke's South American Diary.
After just over two years in Bogotá, in 1999, "the bank" in its wisdom decided to close all it's South American operations at the drop of a hat, and Luke and Julie moved back to the place where they always knew they would settle, Toronto, Canada. They remain there to this day, and still love the city. They live right on the beach, go canoeing in the back-country in the summer, sweep up bagfulls of scarlet leaves in the autumn, go skiing for the day in the lovely cold winters, and spring only lasts for a couple of weeks anyway.
Luke took up website design in a small way (Luke's Web Pages for Less), mainly working with charities and small businesses, and in his spare time develops "hobby sites" of his own, such as The Basics of Philosophy, The Physics of the Universe, Witchcraft and Witches, Utopian Literature, Arguments for Atheism, The Story of Mathematics, Right Left Right Wrong, The Human Memory, Sleep, and many more. Julie worked for the Royal Bank of Canada for several years more, before moving to more socially responsible and satifying work with the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2008. Elena has always had many friends and a busy social and sports calendar. She has also excelled at school, completing her International Baccalaureate diploma at high school, and going on to a place at the University of Waterloo, where she is now known by her middle name, Rose.
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