At the age of three score years and ten plus, most people would have retired, put their feet up and be enjoying the finer things in life.
Not so for one Tadcaster resident.
At 81 years young, Clive Perry is still active and passionate about his art and writing.
His house is testament to that. His paintings adorn the walls, his sculptures are everywhere and any art gallery in the UK would be proud to exhibit any one of them.
“I love to spend my time painting and writing,” said Clive who is known locally for his artwork, including the Tadcaster Millennium Paintings and who often exhibits at Gallery 42 in the town.
Following his retirement in 1990 as Head of Art at Tadcaster Grammar School, Clive decided to pursue his other passion, that of writing. His debut novel Faith, Hope and Christopher, the Secret Life, is a convincing, fictional tale of skulduggery in high places built around the first wife of Sir Christopher Wren whose name was Faith, and about whom extremely little is truly known. Set against a background of The Civil War, The Great Plague, the Fire of London and the re-building of St Paul’s Cathedral, it is the story of a strong-minded woman’s pursuit of the most famous architect of his time.
“I have always been enthralled by the history of architecture,” said Clive. “All kinds of questions came to mind and using his (Christopher Wren) wife as an excuse, I got my answers to the questions that had intrigued me when I was studying and teaching.”
Clive Perry has certainly seen life. He was born in 1930 and taken to Bombay, India by his parents just before his sixth birthday. He had a conventional education mostly at boarding school, but the planned three-year stay stretched to 11 years because of the Second World War. India became his home until he was almost 17 years old. When the Japanese were at the height of their power, several families in Madras, where Clive’s parents were living, wished to have their offspring with them in case of invasion on that unguarded coastline. The Church Park Convent School was persuaded to open its doors to them and their education was taken on by strict Irish Nuns. A well-known artist and musician, Sushil Kumar Mukherjee, was engaged to foster Clive’s talent for art. This experience set him on the course to his future career and also generated an enthusiasm for the theatre.
The family were repatriated to England in 1947 and returned to their home of Sidcup in Kent. Clive completed his education at the local Grammar and Art Schools and went on to teacher training in Swansea before National Service in the RAF. In 1954 he moved to Tadcaster and took up his post in the art department at the Grammar School where he met his future wife, Peggy, who worked as Head of Needlework. They built their own home, in which they still live today, and raised two daughters, Julia and Anna and now have three grandchildren.
Clive has many happy memories of working at Tadcaster Grammar School. “I have taught thousands of children over the years,” he said. “They will of course know me as Mr Perry and not Clive Perry, and hopefully many of them will read this and be inspired to pick up one of my novels,” he added.
Clive has just published his second novel, entitled The Lad from Sandal; an intriguing fiction based on the life of his wife Peggy’s Uncle Joe who was, like her, from Sandal on the outskirts of Wakefield. Clive’s love of writing is evident within its pages.
“Of course I have taken certain liberties with the storyline and embroidered the facts a little,” said Clive as explains the plot.
“Life is a deadly game of snakes and ladders for Joe, and the story is a twentieth century saga of involvement in wars, violence and harrowing personal conflict,” said Clive. “
“He falls in love with the unattainable Eva and is ‘all but wed’ to Clare, a beautiful redhead. Loyal, independent and adventurous, he encounters tragedy and makes enemies but has friends and family who help him onto his feet again after a particularly bad time. However, the story doesn’t end there…the plot bites deeper than might be expected,” says Clive with a twinkle in his eye as he doesn’t want to reveal the ending.
There is a third novel, so far unpublished, entitled Loizos, which is the story of a 16 year old boy taken to Crete in ancient times and, at the request of his grandchildren, an autobiography which is “on the stocks”, telling of his early life before Yorkshire.
It is obvious that Clive’s zest for life and his passion for writing and the arts will continue. It is a legacy which will be passed on to future generations, not just for his children and grandchildren, but for all those who he himself has inspired along the way.