It’s all happening. Right now. At enormous speed.
Having said rather glibly for a while now that I’ve got aaaaaages to get the shop together, it suddenly appears that I’ve got two weeks until the first customers will walk through the door. These will be real people, wanting stuff, and attempting to give me money. With this distinctly alarming prospect in mind, the last few days have been moderately intense. There has also been, I must say, more than a smattering of fun though.
The main fun element was taking the RIB out for an impromptu photo shoot. I did this in the company of three old muckers from the Royal Marines. The optimum word in that sentence is probably the “old” bit, as we’re all in our mid forties now. Although we’ve still got it. Oh yes. Mind you, that does make the assumption that we had “it” in the first place. Whatever "it" is (never quite figured that one out....)
The boys have done well since leaving the Marines. We’ve got Doug – now an airline pilot. Paul, a polar explorer of note and an expert in leadership training. And Si – a ludicrously talented man who has done amazing work in Nepal, Sierra Leone and Kosovo, as well as writing brilliant children’s books and recording some genuinely excellent albums. What a collection of life experience. What talent. What could possibly go wrong?
The answer to the latter question is relatively simple. Also in the boat was my good mate Becks – in her own right a hugely talented jazz musician. She’s a legend is Becks, a smiley, very bright, enthusiast who gets on with anyone and is destined for great things. So, to recap, we have four Royal Marines all at various stages of their mid-life crisis, twenty four feet of fast boat driven by two hundred and thirty snorting horses on the stern, and a good looking girl on board. Oh dear.
It was Simon who succumbed first really. Having taken over for a quick drive, he politely asked me where the throttles were located, then pushed them smartly forward until they were up against the stops. The engine noise went from a mutter to a full throated roar to a bestial howl. We went so fast that my sideburns blew off, Paul was blinded by his own luxuriant moustache, and Doug blacked out due to the intense G forces. I glanced across at Si as he was driving, and noted that he had by now sprouted horns and had testosterone dribbling out of his ears.
It is actually written into Naval law that should your skipper go insane, you are allowed to forcefully relieve him of command. As such there was a brief mutiny, and Si was summarily sacked. The rest of the trip passed at a more sedate pace, giving us the chance to get very close to a bruiser of a grey seal, and watch two harbour porpoises roll and twist through the surface, their flanks gilded in the dusk.
We’ve also done the rowing boat thing - called Nelanor for some reason no-one can quite figure out. I picked her up last week. It turns out that quite a small rowing boat in a large garden in Cornwall, is actually a rather large rowing boat in a small shop in Devon, and it dawned on me it was going to be a bit of a squeeze to get her in the shop. Nonetheless myself and Simon the carpenter hacked and sawed away under the aghast gaze of the good people of Dartmouth (who know a thing or two about boats).
It was very shortly after we stood back in triumph, with one large rowing boat having just become two smaller ones, that our friend Hayden idly remarked that (prior to dismembering it) I could have repaired it and done it up for about £400 quid. Add this to the £400 I paid for it, and that would have come to £800. A lot less than the £3000 Hayden said we could have got had I then sold the repaired boat. And so my first big business gesture had been to vigorously saw in half my main investment of the month. Great work.
But it is quite simply the greatest counter a shop has ever had. We’re just going to have to sell A LOT of coffee to make up the money we could have got for it in the first place.
Anyway, aside from offending the entire town, nearly making the RIB engines explode, and enthusiastically sawing up two grand, the business is going splendidly. The boat really does look very good indeed in the shop, and Simon has done an amazing job. We’ve also got the sofa in there now, which means I can now sit on it and bark instructions at him which he seems to enjoy very much.
It’s a gamble being down here and setting this up. But the other evening, as we flew like a comet ahead of the twisting tail of our spreading wake, with the cliffs of South Devon glowing in the sun, and my muckers in the boat around me, you realise that after all is said and done, some gambles are worth taking.
Two weeks until opening! I’ll keep you posted…
PS. Thanks so much for your kind comments about the fishing series. So important we support our fishermen.....