A PROFILE OF GORDON DRAKE
He’s a well-built fellow, 5 foot 11 inches tall to be exact . There is a curly mass of greying hair which is for the most part normally under a flat cap. The face is permanently wind tanned ; the mark of a man who spends most of his time out of doors. Felicity Trimble once described him as having the face of a well worn Toby jug. Certainly it is full of impish curiosity, and constantly on the move. Frowning, smiling, grimacing, pouting, set firmly, soft and understanding; it is an open face that invariably gives a good indication of exactly what the man is thinking.
He’s a natty dresser (even when up to his knees in mud). He usually wears a faded green waistcoat over a shirt without a collar and equally faded baggy denims held up with braces which struggled to keep him all together. There is always a brightly coloured handkerchief around his neck. The whole effect is quite agreeable, Felicity thinks, in a thrown-together sort of way.
asked about his age he would always say he was fifty-something, probably quite true once upon a time.
Almost everything that might be said about Gordon Drake is a contradiction. He’s basically a shy fellow, preferring to avoid people if he can; but sometimes behaving in the most flamboyant way. For example when he punts across the pond, looking for all the world like a gondolier gliding up the Grand Canal. You just know it’s done to impress afternoon walkers watching from the bank. Gordon left school at the age of sixteen having failed to make a mark as a scholar. He’s not cultured in the literary sense. He avoids lengthy discussions or explanations preferring to make himself understood by deeds rather than words. But every now and again he will hit on a word or phrase and worry at it till he has it right; till it’s working for him. Like for example when Miss Trimble said he needed a strategy; he just kept at it till he’d got one.
Five generations of Drakes have lived or at least been associated with the village of Langford. As a boy his father was a lamplighter on a bicycle in the city of Portsmouth. After that and before coming to settle in Langford he worked for the removal firm White & Co. In those days removals were carried out in a steam driven removal van. That fact probably accounts for Gordon’s love of steam engines. Grandfather also worked in Portsmouth for a while in the City of Portsmouth Electricity Department. Horace Drake first came to Langford as a fisherman in days when it was still possible for small fishing vessels to access the harbour which is now totally mud bound at low tide.
Gordon inherited his grandfather’s love of the sea. Although his fishing is limited to crabbing, cockles and groping for flatfish at low tide, his beachcombing is an art form. His vegetable garden brings in a little income and there is a small workshop at the end of the garden where he repairs almost anything.
Gordon Drake is a bachelor, which is yet one more contradiction. How he has managed to remain one for so long is baffling and beyond all analysis. He has a sexual magnetism he’s almost completely unaware of, and quite unable to manage; which makes him an attraction to the opposite sex. He has a very special friend in Miss Trimble who lives next door. All that can truthfully be said about their association is that the committed observer, like the author of this book, is obliged to reconsider and review the relationship at least once a day.
Finally there is his outrageous and often uncontrollable imagination which sometimes borders on an illusional state of mind. It is an affliction he tolerates with great fortitude and perhaps it is only his sense of humour which helps him through.