I’ve just watched a really interesting programme on Larry Grayson’s life story, the famous entertainer in theatres and latterly on TV. He was a huge star in his time, but I was very young in the seventies and eighties. I remember liking him but now I watch back, there was a lot of innuendo and camp comedy that would have gone way over a child’s head.
It was interesting to note that he came and lived in Torquay for a few years, but soon headed back to the Midlands. At first glance, it’s hard to see why he would ever leave. He was drawn here for all the right reasons – he’d done many shows here including a summer season at the Princess Theatre which is only a short walk from The 25. He loved the climate and the palm trees and being by the sea.
I understand he bought a house way up in the hills (Torquay is built on seven hills) and he had the most marvelous sea views from his house, including whilst sitting up in bed in a morning. Even then, I’m sure the house would have been expensive and sea views like this still command high prices today.
So why was he so unhappy? I think it was all down to location. The reasons he didn’t enjoy Torquay are exactly the opposite to why we love living here on the English Riviera. He found it a lonely existence and didn’t see many people or have many friends here.
When we chose to move to Torquay, we said we wanted to feel like part of the community, and we do. You have to remember that Larry didn’t drive, so getting into town would have involved the hassle of getting a taxi or a driver every time he left his front door, or walking down some pretty steep hills – and he was in his late sixties by now. Walking back up those hills afterwards would have been an even bigger feat.
Where we are at The 25 Boutique B&B, we have no sea views as we’re on a fairly flat area in Torquay terms and so you have an almost level ten minute walk to the sea. Unlike Larry feeling he had to climb Everest just to meet a friend, we can easily be in the sun outside one of the many bars on the sea front within a gentle ten to fifteen minute stroll.
It’s really easy for us to pop into town, and likewise, we walk to the shops, the theatre, restaurants, dentist, hairdresser and so on. We rarely use the car, and if we need to go further, we’re also only ten minutes from the train station or we can catch a ferry to several other towns from Torquay harbour.
Our location is ideal for our guests and for someone like Larry, I think he would have found it a lot easier to have a wander down to the sea and socialize more, getting to know more people and just chatting to adoring fans. It would have been easy for him to pop into the theatre and be seen out and about so he’d get invited to places. We find we can’t go anywhere without seeing someone we know. Torquay to us is like a little village where everyone knows everyone else and we love that.
There are some hotels and B&Bs on the hilly side of town. We did look at some when we moved here but we felt that if we found the hills a bit of a bind then our guests certainly would too. It makes it an effort to go out in an evening and finding a suitable place for dinner becomes more difficult. Taking taxis several times a day is both expensive and inconvenient. We’re definitely happy where we are, and the fact that we have thirty other B&Bs on the same road as us shows that many people agree with us.
It seems it’s as important as ever, whether you are considering a house for yourself, a B&B to buy or a B&B to stay in for a few days, that you consider carefully the physical location and surroundings, not just the attractiveness of the views.
Rest in peace Larry.