Arthur takes no account of age
HE may be 84, but Arthur Buller has no plans to retire. The remarkable octogenarian, affectionately known as AB, has been keeping the books for Woodbridge auctioneers and estate agents Neal Sons & Fletcher for the past 50 years and shows no signs of flagging.
HE may be 84, but Arthur Buller has no plans to retire.
The remarkable octogenarian, affectionately known as AB, has been keeping the books for Woodbridge auctioneers and estate agents Neal Sons & Fletcher for the past 50 years and shows no signs of flagging.
Instead of enjoying a gentle round of bowls, or resting in a wicker chair, the World War II veteran goes into work five days a week as he always has done.
He keeps his mind agile with word puzzles and crosswords, and still adds up in his head.
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He has no need for modern technology, and works the way he always has done, with an old-fashioned cash book and ledger.
“Once a month, he attends the sale room, stands for four and a half hours and keeps all the record keeping for 500 odd lots. The key to it is he does it by hand,” said James Neal, whose father, Dennis, hired Mr Buller back in 1956.
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“It is truly remarkable, especially in today's fast-moving environment, for someone to have the resilience, dedication, supreme loyalty and above all, a skin thick enough to have withstood us for all those years.”
Born in 1921, he was 34 when he went to work for the firm. He worked for a while for Woodbridge estate agents Gerard G Lovell's before the war. After war broke out, he joined up, and worked as a radio operator and air gunner with the Royal Air Force, with 221 Squadron in the Middle East, and 86 Squadron in Tain, Scotland.
During his service, he took part in 74 operations, flying in Wellingtons and American B24 Liberators on a range of dangerous assignments, including anti-submarine and bombing missions.
After the war, he worked as a private hire driver, but after marrying wife Pauline, in 1954, took up the position at Neal's.
“I don't do it now, but I used to arrange all the furniture sales and anything that went with it at the auctions, but I still do the books, of course,” he says.
“It's a long time. You talk about the computer age and all the rest of it, but I still keep the old-fashioned cash book and ledger. When it becomes a problem, I shall pack it up. I'm very happy to work while I'm fit and able, as it were.”
His wife Pauline, whom he married 51 years ago, is “very happy with the situation”, and although he has been asked whether he would like to retire, he is content to stay on, he says.
“I have been asked, but declined several years ago, because I was perfectly happy here. I only take Monday afternoon off and don't work Saturdays,” he says.
“The main reason I continue to work is the firm continue to employee me and as long as they do, I'll work as long as I can.”
Although he has been offered posts with other firms over the years, he has declined them all, and remained loyal to Neal's, he says.
“If I suddenly went gaga, I would pack up and go,” he says.
Meantime, he keeps the old grey matter in tip-top shape.
“I'm a fair old reader and a crossword fanatic, a puzzle fanatic. It keeps the old brain ticking over.”
During his time at the company, he has attended around 560 of its sales, which are held about ten or 11 times a year.
Today, he shows little sign of slowing down.
“If someone has the capability of holding down their job, whether they are 20, 40, 60 or 80, does it make any difference?” says Mr Neal.