Lance’s Ford was soon replaced by a silver, 1978 T-reg Nissan Micra, which had faulty wiring, and a door that would often close and refuse to open at will. George Polea, one of the regulars at the cafe, and a friend, soon became adept at ‘breaking and entering’ into it.
Kit was ever- reluctant to get back into the vehicle, after his walks, and had to be bribed and cajoled with treats and tennis balls before he’d get in. I would often avoid the offer of a lift from Lance, because I soon learned that being driven by him was hair-raising. On the occasions that I accepted a lift, I was grateful to have survived the journey, especially when it was dark, and I suspected that the brakes were rather unreliable.
Talking to Lance, on a daily basis, was always fun. He was always ‘on the go’ – a tornado of energy. He’d go for business meetings in London; argue with people on his mobile phone; visit the Royal Academy; have tussles with figures of authority: parking officials, owners of cafes, and so on. He was a combatative man, given to altercations with people.
I think that Lance genuinely liked to annoy people, and witness their reactions to some outrage he’d dreamt up. He had a confrontation with the lady owner of ‘Molly’s’ ( a local beach cafe), over her allegations that he hadn’t picked up after Kit. Lance then went on to draw a sweet cartoon of the event. He enjoyed these run-ins and laughed about them.
This also included the jobsworth who objected to him parking his car in front of the church at Falmer, where he was doing a drawing; and the cafe owner near St Peter’s church, who banned Lance, because he drew portraits of the customers. Lance loved these battles with authority, and enjoyed recounting them. People probably saw him as a disreputable, old tramp, with a dog that was rarely kept on a lead. He really was a master of disguise.
Once I stopped him from ‘having a go’ at our local computer repair man , as I knew that he was indispensable to Lance, and this was one battle that wasn’t worth fighting .
Behind all this bluster, however, was a sweet and sensitive man, with a mischievious sense of humour. He liked to test people; and enjoyed the cut and thrust of a good argument or discussion. He was an iconoclast, and the most amusing and stimulating company possible. He was entertaining and well- informed on so many subjects. A highly intelligent, inquisitive man, open to new ideas and opinions, although certain of his own views, too.
To use an unforgivable cliche, he really was a ‘class act’.