Interview by Kris Thomas, Editor
Douglas Eaton and his family have lived in Ashington for over 30 years and all six of his children were raised in his large home off the Billingshurst Road. Doug has been married for nearly 52 years and has recently published his third book ‘Lest We Forget’ to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War.
I visited Doug at his home and he told me about his publishing career to date. His first book ’Today’s Golfer’ vetted UK golf courses and was a definitive guide for golfers before the internet took over in this area. This was followed three years ago by a book on London’s Plaques featuring five walks around the city taking in the homes of the ‘great and the good’.
His third title, Lest We Forget is a guide to the most outstanding First World War Memorials in England. The book is split up geographically and includes photos of the memorials, a description including the story behind the memorial, details of the unveiling and information about the designer and sculptor. Interestingly there are significantly more War Memorials in the north of the country than the south. Doug thinks this could be because more people from the north volunteered and this part of the country was more seriously affected in terms of men lost. Doug’s favourite memorials are in Sledmere in East Yorkshire. The Eleanor Cross which was unveiled with a guard of honour of 50 veterans in 1921 and the elaborate Waggoners’ Memorial designed and paid for by Sir Mark Sykes. Best known for his diplomatic work in the middle East during WWI Sir Mark sadly died of Spanish flu and never saw the Memorial completed. Doug explained that the book was a collaborative effort between himself and David Hearn.
A man after my own heart, Doug spends a lot of his time doing things he loves – for free! He is a regular speaker on cruise ships. His wife sometimes goes along too if she likes the look of the itinerary. Doug is also a mystery shopper for various golf courses. This involves visiting the golf course, playing a round with some friends, sampling all the catering and reporting back his findings. On the subject of his golfing ability Doug describes himself as “a hacker”. He also mystery shops for banks, shops, pubs and restaurants. “but I only do certain pubs if I like the menu…” he says.
Doug is full of anecdotes and his cheerful disposition makes him a natural entertainer. He told me he has presented 120 group talks over the last three years and has a portfolio of 16 talks some of which have musical accompaniment on the piano or keyboard. Doug grew up in Liverpool with music very much an important part in his life. He performed at the famous Cavern Club with his rock group The Detonators at the same time as The Beatles were playing there. These days he performs as part of a group called ‘The Elderly Brothers’ who have entertained wedding groups, birthday parties and local community groups. Doug told me that it depended on the fee how many ‘Brothers’ are part of the group – “obviously at least two but sometimes up to three for bigger events”.
One of Doug’s future projects will be a new family pantomime to take place in Ashington next year. Called ’The Secrets of Salty Sam’ Doug has written the script as well as all the songs which are in the sing-along musical theatre style of Tom Lehrer. Lehrer’s amusing songs include “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” containing such gems as; But it’s not against any religion to want to dispose of a pigeon. ’The Secrets of Salty Sam’ will be a typical family pantomime with plenty of audience participation. Doug is looking for a Villain, a Panto Dame and children of all ages to take part. If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Doug told me he feels blessed to lead such a busy and varied life. Thomas Carlyle’s quote, “I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom” resonates and sums up Doug’s Joie de vivre.
We have two copies of ‘Lest we Forget’ to give away. If you would like a copy please enter using the form below. We will pick two winners at random and the books will be sent out after 30/11/2018.