Whitstable People: Geoff Squires

Geoff in the Labour Club Photograph by Big Pete
Geoff in the Labour Club Photograph by Big Pete

Royal Naval Reserve

28-30 High Street
Whitstable
Kent
CT5 1BQ
Telephone: 01227-272068

Double glazing

I am putting this story up in memory of Geoff Squires of Coventry and Whitstable.

He was an unmistakable character, known as “double-glazing” because of his extra thick glasses. I’m sure there are many people in the Royal Naval Reserve and in the Labour Club who will remember him with affection.

The reason I knew him is that we were both Midlanders who came to Whitstable at about the same time. Geoff was from Coventry, while I am from Birmingham.

Geoff and I had one or two adventures together. Specifically, we went tobacco smuggling once.

Well, I say that, but it was Geoff doing the actual smuggling. I was just along for the ride.

But it was a hilarious day. Geoff had decided to look inconspicuous, so he’d put on a loud pinstripe suit and had a briefcase for his contraband. He was incapable of being inconspicuous, all five foot of him, with those bottle-bottom glasses of his, his head of wiry black hair like a brillo pad and his tendency to over act when he was nervous.

He told me that he’d been caught several times and I wasn’t surprised. The first time he’d been let off. The next time they’d given him a warning. The third time - despite the fact he had several hundred packets of mixed tobacco with him - he tried to claim it was for his own consumption.

“You see I don’t like any particular brand, so I mix it all up and then freeze it,” he’d argued.

“Freeze it! You can’t freeze tobacco,” the customs officer had said.

“You can freeze anything,” he said.

But they said they didn’t believe it was for his own consumption, and they’d confiscated it, so he’d lost all his money that time.

Fortunately the day we went they weren’t bothering to search anyone so he got away with it and came back with several hundred pouches of tobacco to sell around the pubs in Whitstable.

Energy

I can say all of this now, because no one can hurt Geoff any more. He’s finally immune to the arbitrariness of the law.

A lot of people used to laugh at Geoff because of those glasses of his, but I know the problems with his eyes were more than just cosmetic. He had to have numerous operations on them, and there were times when he was in great pain because of it. But he bore all of this – the indignity and the pain – with a certain fortitude and good humour, which never left him.

One of the most memorable things about him was his rendition of Wild Thing by the Troggs on Karaoke night. He didn’t have the best voice in the world, but he made up for it by the sheer energy of his performance, twitching his legs, clicking his fingers and waving his arms about, throwing his whole body into a sort of ecstatic fit of crazed untamed expressiveness.

He was the Wild Thing all right. He will be missed.

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