I never really thought to write a book. It was just that after retiring from working in the field of international trade for 40 years or so I was persuaded that the bedtime stories I made up for my 3 kids should be published for others to see and read. That’s why “Barry and the Chronicles” didn’t take all that long to write because everything was in my head before I started. In fact the problem was more in deciding what should be omitted as there are various other tales involving Barry, but they take place outside the story line of the Chronicles, so I may need to tell you about them some other time.
I don’t like the thought that this is a book for children; we progress beyond childhood but carry our impressions, imagination and recollections for ever. So I prefer to think that the messages I try and convey will be relevant for a lifetime. Thus a young listener will become enveloped in the things that happen to Barry but equally the older reader will find a range of thoughts to consider.
Originally I am from the valleys of South Wales and I know that the way I look at the world was shaped pretty strongly before leaving there at 18. I still feel very Welsh and notice that I have a strong need to feel a sense of belonging, whether that be to an area or an organisation or indeed even a routine. Change is not something I particularly welcome and I have no great need to visit far off places for a quick look. I have travelled pretty widely but when I’m away I always want to be home; nowhere like it.
Sport is a big part of my life. I played football until my late 30’s and wish I could still run around like I used to. Golf has now taken over and I try to play 3 times a week. I don’t think I’m very good but try and stay competitive. Liverpool FC is a great passion and I have a season ticket for Anfield, although the train system isn’t always helpful for evening kick-offs and driving there from London is usually a challenge. Hours and hours spent on the M6 are not the best way to spend time.
My best decision was marrying Susan when I was 20 and she was 18; we are from the same valley town. We have 3 daughters born in ’84, ’86 and ’88 and I always mention that they arrived in-between Olympics! It made for some hectic times but nothing can ever compete with your family. I would have liked a son I suppose but girls clearly run in my genes because my maternal grandfather was the youngest of 11 children and he was the only male!
I still keep some of my business interests alive. The biggest case I am involved with concerns the import duty classification of a mastectomy bra. This is really important because the Supreme Court of the UK ruled unanimously that the import rate should be zero, yet a Committee of civil servants sitting in Brussels decided that was incorrect and imposed an import rate of 6.5% on arrival of the goods from China. This seems all wrong to me on a number of levels and I remain involved in the fight to get the correct rate of zero duty to apply, both pre and post Brexit. A mastectomy bra is not a normal item of clothing.
Now that the kids have left home our house is clearly far too big for us. Yet when everyone visits , together with partners and children, it is a perfect size. I suppose this is an issue that lots of people grapple with and the fact is that I like it here; you will have already read that I don’t much like change. The thought of packing everything away and deciding what to throw out fills me with total dread. Then there will be the hassle of finding something else even half as good and convenient. We can be in Waterloo within 25 minutes and are equidistant from Heathrow and Gatwick when we fly somewhere. The girls all live in South London ( like us), so we are not far apart and it all means that I think we should stay where we are for as long as we are able.
We did buy a place in Spain some 15 years ago. It’s in Andalusia so not more than 4 hours away really ( and usually quicker than getting to Liverpool), but it’s in quite a remote spot and is actually empty for most of the year, so we are trying to sell that one. I thought it would be a good investment but it hasn’t worked out that way and I’d be happy just not to lose money on it. The kids go out there more than we do and we always meant to sell it after 10 years anyway so fingers crossed.
I keep a close eye on politics although I have never been a member of any party. I get annoyed to hear about what the Government wants to do about our membership of the European Union. It all seems crystal clear to my mind that we voted to leave in order to get back control over our laws and borders and that was an instruction from the people to the Government. Their job now, if you believe in democracy, is simply to get on with it. They do not decide on the so-called “red lines” , the people have done that and so we cannot remain subject to the ECJ or be part of the customs union nor the single market. If tariffs are to be imposed then it will be the European Union that imposes them – we want free trade.
I have learned that it’s OK to make mistakes because they’re meant to happen. The trick is, as you get older you should ideally make less of them, so I’m working on that. The other thing about it is that age gives you the opportunity to make different mistakes; hopefully time and experience mean they can be less hurtful although sometimes more expensive. I think that’s what Barry would say.
About the author: Originating from the South Wales Valleys, Alun Davies had a varied and extensive career including roles in the Civil Service and international trade and accountancy practices before starting his own business. Now retired he lives in London with his wife and three grown up children. In his spare time he writes music and has written original songs to accompany the release of the animation. Barry and the Chronicles is published on 29th January 2018 in paperback and ebook) and is available to purchase from online retailers and to order from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.barryandthechronicles.com