Billingshurst battler - Edward Enfield
PUBLISHED: 17:10 05 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:46 20 February 2013
Sussex broadcaster Edward Enfield, father of Harry, doesn't have time for retirement. Veronica Groocock met him at his Billingshurst home...
Sussex Life, July 2006
Edward Enfield has phenomenal energy and, at 76, is busier than ever, with new projects popping up all over the place to surprise and challenge him. At a time when most septuagenarians are slowing down, Edward has recently added yet another assignment to his writing and broadcasting portfolio: Voiceovers. And they are proving to be highly lucrative.
"It's funny, you know", he reflects, "For the past three or four years, I've thought: 'Well, this is the end. Why should anybody want to employ an old chap of 70-something?' - but so far something always turns up. I have no time to retire."
He now has three agents: "I collect them the way some men collect wives: for books, TV and voiceovers." His latest book, Freewheeling Through Ireland (Summersdale, 7.99) has also been occupying much of his time. An account of two cycle trips along the west coast of Ireland, it is written in Edward's idiosyncratic style, with his usual dry wit and sense of the absurd. There are vivid descriptions of rugged landscapes and prehistoric fortresses, juxtaposed with memorable encounters with fishermen, peat-cutters, eccentric tourists and a famous matchmaker; all closely observed from the saddle of his bicycle during six weeks' leisurely pedalling around the "lovely, empty" roads of the Emerald Isle.
Cycling is a relatively recent passion of his. There was a 40-year gap when he did not own a bicycle. He had one as a student at Oxford, where he read Classics, and thinks it got stolen. He was close to 62 when he acquired another. He'd always kept fairly fit, what with having a big garden and plenty of hedges to cut. "But the secret to cycling," he stresses, is not to go too far. There are heroic cyclists about: they get their heads down and do 200 miles. Whereas for me, a comfortable distance is probably 25 to 30 miles. You mustn't hurry on a bicycle, it's best to dawdle along and enjoy it."
He wrote a book about cycling across France, inspired by friends who were boating through French canals: "They had some bicycles on the boat, so the thing to do was to get off the boat, on to the towpath...so that gave us some tasters, and my wife and I did quite a lot of cycling."