Retired policeman turns hand to writing
Out of the blue Jeff Payne's wife, Jo, issued him a challenge. “Write me a story,” she said. Mr Payne hadn't written anything creative since high school, but he gladly took up the gauntlet.
“Right away I knew exactly the type of person I wanted to write about,” said the 77-year-old. “She had to be someone over 50 who was still fit and active.”
In other words, someone very much like himself and Mrs Payne. The two of them still lead very active lives and enjoy cycling and walking.
“Most of our friends are as active as we are,” he said. “When I was a kid I thought everyone over 40 was older than Methuselah.”
He found he loved writing and the result was his first novel Run Granny, Run, set in England.
The main character is an older lady who suddenly inherits a lot of money. Her children are outraged when she decides to spread it around the family.
“The granny in the book has her own exercise routines, walking and riding a bike,” Mr Payne said.
When he finished writing Run Granny, Run he tried for years to get it published the traditional way to no avail. He received at least 40 polite notes of rejection from publishers before a friend turned him on to publishing through Amazon Kindle.
“It is not very profitable for authors but is a way of getting the work out there,” he said.
The plot is inspired partly by his early years as a police officer in England. He was born in the London suburb of Leytonstone. He decided to become a police officer as a young man after several boring years working in the Port Authority of London.
“In the Port Authority I was just pushing pieces of paper from one side of the desk to the other,” he said. “Working in an office was not for me.
“When I joined the force we often had to deal with nursing homes. Sometimes a client would run away and we'd have to find them. Sometimes there would be complaints of abuse at the nursing home. Sometimes there would be complaints from the clients that their children had placed them there against their will.”
After doing his national service in the Royal Marines, he moved to Canada to continue his policing career.
“I thought I'd take a look around,” he said.
After a chilly stint in northern Canada he saw an advertisement for a post in Bermuda.
“I was just starting my second winter in northwest Canada close to Alaska,” he said. “There was snow on the trees in September and it lasted until May. I didn't know where Bermuda was but when I was a kid I collected stamps. The Bermuda stamps were always pretty. I thought, OK, this is a place where the sun is, lets go for it.”
He arrived in Bermuda in 1962 and has been here ever since.
“I worked in uniform in my career,” he said. “I did the first 18 years working in Hamilton. I was a Pc then a sergeant then a watch sergeant, then a watch sergeant in the traffic division. Then I was posted to the police training school as an instructor for seven years.”
After 25 years he retired and went into real estate.
“It was such a change of career paths,” he said. “The police force is very complete. They provide total care, even to subsidising housing.
“When you go into real estate it is on commission and you pay everything yourself. You have to get cracking to make a living. But for me it is lovely. It is outdoors and gives me a chance to meet people.
“As a policeman, in your working life you do not have a lot to do with the ordinary person. Your social life is very much with the force.”
For a while he ran his own company, Jeff Payne Real Estate, but now works for Roderick DeCouto Real Estate.
“I have a computer that is hooked up to the office and I do most of my work from home,” he said. “It means I don't have to contend with the morning traffic.”
Throughout his years in Bermuda, he has remained active in running and cycling. He was regarded as one of the top road racers in Bermuda and represented Bermuda in the 1968 summer Olympic Games in Mexico City in track and field.
This did not go well for him and he was almost last.
“I was very disappointed,” he said. “It was privilege to go and to see it but I would have liked to have done better.”
He had a hard time with the high altitude of Mexico City.
“A lot of the athletes did,” he said. “I remember the post office in Mexico City was up a flight of 40 steps. We were all huffing and puffing when we got to the top of them and these were the world's top athletes.”
He was heavily involved in the Bermuda Marathon Derby for many years and won it in 1980.
He also represented Bermuda in cycling in the Union Cycliste Internationale B World Championships in Malaysia one year.
Today, he no longer cycles or runs competitively.
“You get to a point where all the younger men have more puff,” he said.
But he still cycles and walks, often with a group of friends his own age.
Eight weeks ago he had a knee replacement. All those years of activity wore out one of his knees.
“When I am healed, I want to get right back to full walking,” he said. “I want to do the XL Catlin Bermuda Middle-to-End Walk in May. It depends on how long it takes me to heal.”
Run Granny, Run (available at Brown & Co and the Bermuda Bookstore) will soon be followed by Rider, a mystery focused on the competitive world of cycling and performance enhancing drugs.
He and his wife Jo have three children, Simon, Adam and Rebecca, and ten grandchildren.
• Lifestyle profiles senior citizens in the community every Tuesday. To suggest an outstanding senior contact Jessie Moniz Hardy: 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Have on hand the senior's full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them.