Interview: Geoffrey Gillow's Bill Gillow talks fashion, football and food | Living North

Interview: Geoffrey Gillow's Bill Gillow talks fashion, football and food

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Bill Gillow
Bill Gillow is the owner of Geoffrey Gillow, the menswear and ladieswear shop celebrating its 50th year in Darlington. We talked to him about buying Darlington Football Club, jetting to Florence and dating Cleopatra
Record collection

What would you do with £1 million?
I would invest in Darlington Football Club, who I’ve supported my whole life. I’d want some involvement for this investment – maybe I could bring the oranges on at half-time. I’d also use the money to travel around Europe to source new brands for the shop.

What makes you mad?
My wife being constantly late, people who don’t deliver what they promise and politicians never answering a question.

What would you change about the North East?
I’d give people a more positive attitude, get them to rejoice in what we’ve got, which is a far better experience than people in many other parts of the world. I think we’re very blessed to live where we do.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Probably the last month or so. We’ve just totally re-fitted the shop, and I’ve been blown away by the positive reaction from both the regular customers and those new to the store.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?
I hope to be still doing this. I’m 62 but I have no intention of retiring, though I’d maybe like a bit more spare time; I have a cottage in Northumberland and I’d like to spend more time there.

What do you need to get done by the end of the day?
I need to organise delivery of paint to my house for my decorator, who needs it to finish painting my bedroom.

Where’s your favourite place for a meal?
Locally I like the Bay Horse, in Hurworth, and the Crathorne Arms, in Crathorne. I also love Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco, in Florence. I visit Florence twice a year and I always eats there. I also like Vesuvio, which is just around the corner from the shop, in Darlington. 

If you could travel in time, where would you go?
I’d like to go back to ancient Egypt , they seemed to have a great lifestyle, and wonderful weather – though obviously 
not as a slave, possibly as one of Cleopatra’s boyfriends.

What’s your most treasured possession?
My extensive collection of vinyl albums from the late Sixties and Seventies.

Which famous people have visited your shop?
We’ve had a number of famous visitors over the years, including Sir John Hall, and Sir Ian Botham (pictured above, with Bill on the left and his father, Geoffrey, on the right) who is a regular customer.

If you could swap places with someone in history, who would it be?
Christopher Marlowe. He was a contemporary of Shakespeare and a fantastic playwright, and he seemed to have a more laid-back attitude to life.

What would be your chosen specialist subject on Mastermind?
Possibly something to do with geography or travel, or football in the late Sixties. I’m not really an authority on anything, but I’d do a lot better on the general knowledge round.

Where inspires you?
I love the Northumberland coast, especially the deserted beaches, like Embleton or Bamburgh. I also love being on the North York Moors, surrounded by nature, the vast wilderness that we have on our doorstep.

What sends you to sleep?
Period dramas. Especially watching Downton Abbey with my wife.

Geoffrey Gillow, 45-49 Grange Road, Darlington DL1 5NB 
www.geoffreygillow.co.uk

Published in: July 2016

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