by Dr. Iain
Archie Dunlop is a sprightly 81 year old, who considers
the Royal Cliff Beach Resort to be ‘home’, or more correctly, his home
when he is in Thailand, just one of the destinations in his annual
calendar. By the way, this is a calendar that he can rattle off from
memory, including places and dates - he’ll be in Lanark on the 3rd of
August, so if you want to, you can catch up with him there!
Archie was born in Carstairs, Lanarkshire,
"Scotland of course," he said hurriedly, in case I placed him
geographically south of the border. His father was an engine driver, a
career that the young Archie had dreamed of for himself when he left
He was not academically inclined and left school at 15
years of age, heading for the railway station to follow in his father’s
engine smoke. However, the harsh realities of the real world were to dash
his teenage dream. Archie was colour blind! He failed the medical. His
next career choices were that of being a policeman or a rent collector,
callings that he was to accomplish - but much later in life.
For 15 year old, colour blind Archie, the only real
offering in Lanarkshire was that as an apprentice bricklayer, a trade that
he entered for the next three years. His major bricklaying edifice was the
Scottish Criminal Lunatic Asylum, "But they didn’t keep me
in," said Archie, who is known these days for his witty one liners.
By the end of the apprenticeship, war had broken out
and Archie volunteered for the Royal Air Force, fibbing a little about his
age, so that he could get in. But he couldn’t fib about his colour
vision problems and was rejected for Air Crew. However, the war effort
said they could use him as an Air Force policeman, so he was packed off to
Police College and then sent to Malta, where he was stationed for the next
Returning to the UK, he was sent to London to the RAF
Special Investigations Branch HQ, becoming involved in the post war
interrogation of war criminals. Following this he was sent to India as an
undercover agent to investigate the mutinies in that country. Despite
having his cover blown once, he managed to uncover the details needed by
HQ. The story was not a glorious one, with Archie saying, "If I’d
been there, I’d have mutinied myself!" Despite downplaying his role
in India, it should be noted that he received his British Empire Medal
(BEM) for his work in the Indian continent.
Returning to London HQ, he was soon packed off to post
war Germany where he stayed for six years. There he investigated the gamut
of crimes, including murders, rapes and suicides. He admitted that this
line of work hardened him and gave him the reputation of being tough.
"They used to call me a bastard, but I was a fair bastard," said
Archie, continuing with, "When they saw me coming they didn’t know
whether to sh*t or salute!"
After the overseas tour of duty, he returned to HQ and
was eventually returned to civvy street after 22 years in the service,
having now accomplished the second of his teenage career choices. He was
in his 40’s and eligible for a pension. He lined up in the queue in the
Post Office and collected his pension, along with the 65 plus year olds,
but Archie wasn’t going to blow this money on beer and cigarettes.
Archie, the canny Scot, could see that bricks and mortar, his old trade,
was the way to go.
Borrowing three thousand pounds from his (equally as
canny) father, he used it as downpayment on a property in London, paying
off the mortgage for the remaining three thousand pounds from his pension.
Now a property owner, he needed something to do, so he took a job managing
a club in London. He found he had a flair for this, introducing Swan Lager
and Fosters beer and attracting the hard drinking Aussie expats. However,
the secret was not just in having the right beer on tap. "My success
was because I was there all the time. It was not because I was brilliant.
I just persevered longer than the others."
He moved on and bought two clubs, and more properties.
And he kept busy. "In the mornings I used to empty the gas meters in
my properties, before my clients did it for me!" Then he would go to
the first of his clubs, moving to the second late night (early morning,
really) venue after that. Grab a few hours sleep and it was back on the
gas meter rounds. At the height of his property career, he owned 14
properties and two clubs, both in the UK and in the Canary Islands, a
destination to which he had originally gone for a holiday.
Archie admits he has done well out of property, but
advises would-be property owners that they have to be prepared to hold on
when things get tight. Even though he has scaled down his investments, he
still has properties in both countries, and does all the bookings himself
for the holiday rentals in the Canary Islands, and when he is there goes
round each morning and collects the dirty towels. Who said that when you
are 81 you have to stop being active?
Archie is a thrifty Scot, who learned the lesson of the
value of hard work from his father, in fact saying, "Work was the
only hobby I ever had."
But now he is loving life and enjoying it. "The
most memorable day of my life was my 80th birthday party that I had here
on board the Royal Cliff Beach Resort’s catamaran. I enjoyed it so much
that I wrote to the owner (Khun Panga Vathanakul) to say I wanted to book
it for my 90th!"
Just remember to put my name on the guest list, Archie!