On Monday 15th June, my days as a gin-soaked house husband, ended.
Hanging up my pinny, I bounced into the Victoria Quarter, a whirling dervish of enthusiasm and pent up energy, sporting a new summer suit and highly polished Oxfords.
Bright eyed, head held high like a meerkat on patrol duty, I surveyed my surroundings.
Like a welcome home party for Dominic Cummings, hardly anybody had bothered to turn up.
Where were the dancing girls, flashing lights and the big neon sign shouting out to the world, “We are open!” ?
Here was the chance for retailers to get back in the ring, bloodied but not broken, and like Rocky Balboa, fight another round against the Ivan Drago of the virus world that is Covid-19.
Whilst many of my fellow tenants have now re opened their doors, that initial opportunity to fuel excitement and interest has been wasted.
My grandma always said, ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,’ so I’ll put a (knee length) sock in it.
Whilst I was with customers for the first time in 12 weeks, my wife Nikki had promised to take Daddy’s darlings into Otley to look at dolls.
Walking up the quaint and charming Kirkgate Arcade, a five year old boy was perched on a plinth outside the hairdressers, with a tray of sweets before him, shouting out to all and sundry, “Roll up! Roll up! Get your sweets, here!”
Success in business is about having the right attitude and this little chap had it in abundance.
After selling a lolly for a pound (!) to a kind-hearted pensioner, he then stomped three shops up the walkway to “Sweet Treats” and invested in more stock.
Alan Sugar and Del Boy would have wept tears of joy.
“He Who Dares Wins,” and “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” are at the very core of my belief system.
If you want something in life, you have to be prepared to fight for it, and as far as bespoke tailoring goes, my gum shield is in and it’s seconds out, round one.
My first month back has been wonderful.
There have been days when I feel like I’ve been running a speakeasy, with customers enjoying the novelty of having drinks outside their home, and thrillingly, I’ve taken some fabulous new orders.
I’m under no illusion this is down to customers simply wanting to support me, and never has new business tasted sweeter.
Whilst it’s been a great start back, I’d be a fool not to acknowledge there are challenging times ahead, but I will remain positive, try new things (I have some awesome new products in the pipeline!) and just keep on pushing.
I will also go out of my way to support businesses that have stopped suckling from the generous teats of Rishi Sunak, and are out of their trenches and over the top.
Only today, I lunched at Stuzzi in Leeds, who were back in action on the 4th July, and it was heart-warming to sit amongst fellow diners and be served the most magnificent burrata salad followed by a bowl of unctuous venison pasta.
For all you foodies out there, it’s in the Grand Arcade, open from Wednesday to Sunday, and well worth a visit.
This post, I’ve used my fair share of proverbs and sayings, but I’ll leave the best for last.
You only live once.
It’s now time to get back on that horse, and if need be (and god how I hate them) strap on a bloody mask and go out and find fun in the world.
Book that holiday, go out for dinner, raise a glass with your friends in a pub, and make plans for good times to come.
There will always be doom-mongers and mood-hoovers out there, but what we need now is to act like that 5 year old lad selling sweets, with breath in his lungs, hope in his heart and a pocket full of pound coins.