What do you value most in life?
My family, my friends and my music. When you get to your sixties, you have actually been through a lot of heartache and grief. Losing loved ones, losing jobs, illnesses are the sorts of things that touch us all at some time, then suddenly your own children start producing grand-children. It really is as if fate has a plan to ensure that all of us oldies get to go out on a high.
I discovered Morris dancing late in life and found a bunch of absolutely amazing friends. I must say though, I can’t dance for toffee. Instead, I’m the one that stands at the front of the lines, playing the music and taking most of the blame when things go wrong.
I met Lynda, my wife through Morris dancing. We married three years ago. Three Morris sides danced at our wedding. Lynda was piped in to the wedding by Welsh bagpipers. Our photographer said that it was one of the most colourful weddings ever.
Favourite things and who inspires you?
I can’t imagine what my life would be like without music. I started playing when I was about 11 years old. Initially I was involved in classical music, then discovered traditional folk music. These days, I love playing instruments that don’t need a plug.
Song writers and composers are such talented people, particularly writers of protest songs like Billy Bragg or Pete Seeger. One of my favourite songs is called Let the Sunshine and it was written by Tom Paxton back in the seventies. It warns us of the danger of the multinational oil corporations and advises us to take up solar power. Written nearly 50 years ago but rings true today. Another song that always gets me is Country Life by the band Show of Hands.
What is the most valuable lesson you think you have learnt?
One of the instruments that I play is an English Button Melodeon. A few years ago I spent a weekend trying to improve my playing. Now, a melodeon can only play seven accompaniment chords, or so I thought. This weekend cost me £180 and for the first two days, I honestly believed that I’d learned nothing at all and then suddenly, without any warning, we were taught how to play a B minor and an A minor chord. I was fulfilled. Without doubt, that £180 had been money well spent.
Leading up to my retirement and wedding, there was one particular song that I kept hearing. It was played at the Olympics. It was playing on the sound system the moment we arrived on a holiday. One day, I sat in a restaurant and noticed a lady sitting in front of me with the words tattooed on her shoulder. That song, a simple song with such meaningful lyrics, “Always look on the bright side of life.”
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Can finance be a force for good in the future?
There really ought to be more institutions like Triodos. I retired on July 19th 2013 at 3:30 p.m. Suddenly for the first time in my life I found myself with money that needed to be saved. I started adding interesting new phrases to my vocabulary, like “Financial Portfolio,” and “Deposit Interest Rates.” All of this was completely new to me and totally divorced from my previous life as a teacher.
I knew that although my lump sum constituted probably the largest quantity of cash that I’d ever owned in my life, it needed to be invested wisely. I also felt deeply that it needed to be invested in causes that would be of benefit to society and to the environment. To me, Triodos ticked all of the boxes; one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.
What would you like to share with our Colour of Money readers?
Have you ever seen the message online, ‘Click LIKE for the chance to win” Have you ever thought, ‘Nobody ever wins those competitions’? Well I did! Recently Triodos Bank ran a competition where the prize was a glamping experience for a week. My wife Lynda and I had an absolutely wonderful time in two totally secluded woodland areas in East Sussex. Staying initially in a small wooden cottage with a wood-burning stove we enjoyed using our wood fired non-suite shower and evenings of al-fresco dining. We then moved on to a yurt; sheepskin bed covers and a morning guinea fowl wake-up call. Two unique off-grid experiences.
It occurred to me though that there might be an angle to glamping that we are missing. As well as using them as an alternative holiday location, imagine what could be done if accommodation such as this could be provided for the homeless. Maybe a charity should look into this, providing simple housing needs together with an allotment would maybe just be enough to get some people’s lives back in order.