This is how the West Country Times broke the news of my retirement earlier today.
DBLW has been my life for more than 50 years. Walking away won’t be easy, in every sense. I keep telling myself I’ll be busy writing the House of Brazil retrospective, Just My Look which has been commissioned by People’s Friend. That will take me up to October. Don Chaff has helped me to convert the back bedroom into a study. He couldn’t get the bed out, not on his own, but there was just enough room to fit a dining chair in there along with an old ironing board which makes an ideal desk. I feel like Jean Plaidy when I’m up there.
After October I want to get back to writing the first instalment of my memoirs. Setting Up the Apple Cart will cover the years 1932 to 1957. I am also working on a project for the theatre. They say, write about what you know. Ruche the Musical is set in a west country ladies wear shop where the two protagonists sing and dance their way through a tense autumn sale in 1985. Think Glengarry Glen Ross meets Grease 2. I don’t want to give too much away but one of the more up-tempo numbers involves a car crashing through a plate glass window at high speed.
Next year I was thinking about visiting my old friend Lee Majors in Hollywood. It’s been almost 10 years since we’ve spoken so there’ll be a lot of catching up to do. Lee used to be President of the Appleton Marsh Playing Fields Association when he lived here; he made a lot of friends in this part of the world. Margaret might come with me.
I do intend to go on the mini safari through Haldon Forest during the black fallow deer rutting season. Whether Flo will go with me this year is another matter. Perhaps I can persuade Connie Jackson.
I also intend to make more time for our local MP Neil Parish. He doesn’t know me very well, yet. I feel there are a lot of issues that he’d appreciate being made aware of. At the moment I am especially vexed by the soap dispensers in the town centre toilets. The other day I spent a full hour trying to get soap out of one. It was like an aerobic workout. I felt like Olivia Newton-John.
So, 80 years. Who would have thought it? Who would have thought they’d ever see Flo take the helm of the flagship DBLW store. She’s by no means the finished article but I’m sure she’ll pick it up and she’ll do just fine. Kirsty will be helping out to begin with.
I once said, it used to be the big things I didn’t understand: God, the universe. Then it was the small things that I didn’t understand: memory sticks, iPods. Now I find the spectrum of things that I do understand is narrowing rapidly. With every day that passes the world becomes just a little more inexplicable. It’s difficult to explain. Flo knows what I mean. Everybody goes on about mid-life crises but let me tell you, late-life crises are much worse. Maybe it’s because, by then, you’ve run out of choices.
I’m tired. I don’t feel myself. Today I’ve looked my age. It doesn’t help that I’m over-faced with Toffifees and Bombay mix. The Teasmade is primed. I have some hard skin on my elbows that I want to rasp. I’m going to have a lie down.