By Samuel Whitlock
It’s my last week working at The Big Red L Company. I thought I’d write a feature piece on Tony Simcock, without his permission.
Grey hair slick back, spectacles hiding the gleam of amusement in his eyes. He makes a point of driving everywhere and walking nowhere. As a long-time walker and lover of the environment, I might be offended, but I guess it comes with the territory.
A driving instructor with a quick quip for almost every circumstance, Tony is both a deep thinker and a downright joker. There is an air of mischief about Tony. It’s almost as thick as his Wolverhampton accent.
If you have been his pupil, you have probably fallen victim to his humour already. I would apologise, but I’m too busy laughing.
The first time I met him, Tony gave me a tour of Folkestone in his mini cooper. Zipping up country lanes, he showed me the view from the Folkestone hills. It was my first day in Folkestone and as I began to see the place through Tony’s eyes, I felt something of its charm and its quirky character.
I couldn’t supress the sense that somehow the instructor and the town were linked.
We drove past a red brick tower. Like a thousand before me, I heard him say, “That’s a good church that.” It soon became my church too.
Tony is an elder of the redbrick church, a trustee of a special needs school in India and trustee of a local canoe centre. He is an adventurer who has both opened a bookstore and franchised a small fleet of instructors. He has taught drivers for the BBC and for the military.
Despite all of this, he likes to keep things simple, doing the groundwork to help get people through their driving tests. He’s a man in love with ordinary life.
It’s like the moment when we drove over the Folkestone hills. The every-day town made beautiful. The routine-life brimming with delight.
I guess that’s why I’d recommend The Big Red L Company. We – Tony especially – take such delight in what we do, in the town we live in and the people we get to know.
As for me, I’m off to Bristol to study Creative Writing at University. It’s been a blast Big Red L though, it really has.