Every morning at a quarter to eight precisely, a battered old blue Ford Focus would be parked in the disabled bay opposite the Sea Spray cafe at the main beach in Rottingdean, East Sussex.
A very tall, handsome elderly gentleman would tumble out, followed by a ravishingly beautiful Golden retriever. The two of them would then proceed down to the beach; the dog dancing in delight at the prospect of his walk.
This routine happened nearly every day from September 2017 until February 2018.
Nobody knew who this distinguished-looking gentleman was, with his insouciant air of the bohemian about him: everybody admired his dog.
After their walk, man and dog would enter the cafe, and strong, black coffee would be ordered; and the gentleman would begin his day’s work on his i-pad: sending emails; checking messages, taking phone calls.
The early risers in the neighbour would speak to him; remark on the beauty of his dog and the strange shoes that he often wore: Vivobarefoot running shoes. Lewis, the owner of the cafe, would chat to him ; Rod Hart, the jazz pianist, and his girlfriend, the singer, Imogen Ryall, would offer to take the man’s dog for a walk. Mick Bensley, the marine artist, would talk to this charming stranger about art and seascapes.
We were all intrigued by this delightful man. He seemed to be an artist and also a philanthropist, as far as we could gather. He talked about the charities and orphanages that he managed in Africa. This was all we knew about him.