Storytellers – Clive and Denise Interview Hamid Rihani

The meeting was rather special as we got to know one of the three wise men a little better – namely Hamid Rihani.

Hcaptwirling 576Hamid didn’t need much of an introduction. He’s certainly one of the BBC’s identities.

When he retired about 3 years ago there were several articles written about him in the local papers, and there was one quote from fellow BBC member Brian Wilder “Hamid is a one-off; and I don’t think Mosman will see the likes of him in business in Mosman again. He has a fascinating personal story” so in order to capture some his fascinating story, Denise and Clive conducted a ‘Parkinson’ style interview with him. Hamid is colourful but also quite reserved, or so we all thought, but once he warmed up he was hard to stop. He kept the audience enthralled with his interesting life story and amused by his many anecdotes. He’s quite a success story. Hamid’s charming ‘Aussie’ wife Robyn joined us also to check that Hamid’s version of the truth was told … just as well too!

In the interview we explored some of his family history, his early career, what prompted his move to Australia in 1969, the growth of his business in Mosman and how he came to join the BBC.

Born in Fez, Morocco. His mother died when he was 18 months and then his father when he was about 5 years. From then on he was looked after through a trust by a guardian/nanny.
Hamid first learnt his cutting and sewing skills working in the rag-trade throughout his primary school years. He travelled to Europe at age 16 and was hired as an apprentice tailor with prestigious English shirt-maker Hawes & Curtis, Saville Row. During that time Hamid made suits for the British upper class, including former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Prince Charles and Prince Philip.

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Hamid explained how important the BBC was to him. Conversely, Hamid is important to the BBC. He greets everyone with his beaming smile. He’s always positive and of course, who can forget each year at the Carols when Gibbo, Fred Dawson and Hamid perform as the three Wise men? Something to behold!

Hamid-650wTony Arena noted how Hamid had been instrumental in encouraging BBC members to come along to the Moroccan lunches that he, Cec Medcraf and Hamid have organised over the years and Hamid’s contribution to a number of very generous prizes.

Hamid has also been the club’s travel advisor for a number of members with their plans for visiting Morocco, including Jon Attwater and the Gibraltar swim group after they completed the crossing from Spain to Morocco swim. Hamid loves sharing his knowledge of his home country and considered the time Gibbo and Jane joined him in Morocco a few years back as the best four weeks in his life … so much fun!

Once warmed up Hamid amused everyone with a few great anecdotes about his debt collecting skills:

  • Collecting cash at a party in the eastern suburbs from a bad debtor
  • Getting payment from a customer who took a pair of trousers out of his shop to show his wife and then disappeared. Weeks later Hamid saw him wearing the trousers, walking with his mates and confronted him.
  • Displaying a dishonoured cheque in his shop’s window until the wife of the defaulter begrudgingly coughed up.

Many thanks to Hamid for agreeing to be interviewed, Denise for her preparation work and interviewing, Jackie for capturing the evening on film for the BBC Archives, and Mark Simkins for a great poster which left Doug puzzled