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Swapping Macca for mackerel

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: October 04, 2012

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GEOFF Baker may be more used to rock than roe, but he is proving a hit as a fishmonger.

New kid on the block Geoff has joined Old Watch House fresh fishmonger group owner Simon Bennett's team in a career switch after spending 15 years as a right-hand man to Sir Paul McCartney.

Geoff, 56, was Sir Paul's PR chief from 1989 to 2004. He also represented Linda McCartney, The Beatles' company Apple Corps and the rock band Oasis.

He started his career as a reporter at the Express & Echo in the 1970s. He then worked on Fleet Street, and as a TV producer and a novelist.

"It's a rich life going from Macca to mackerel," said Geoff, who is writing his memoirs in between working at the Old Watch House.

After offering Geoff the post of running the Ottery St Mary shop on Fridays and Saturdays, Simon and Ottery manager Toby Guest trained him in the Old Watch House style of traditional fresh fishmongery.

"I love it," said Geoff. "Customers clearly get a lot of pleasure from choosing their dinner from a variety of fresh fish, and it's very refreshing to please people with some-thing that's all local too.

"I've had a few gags from pals about me switching to The Ling And Winding Roe, Rubber Sole and that sort of thing, but I'm very happy if now I am the walrus. I've also had quite a few visits from people who have not seen a good old-fashioned fish monger's before, or at least not for 50 years, and they seem charmed by it.

I've had people from Germany, Australia and America in the shop who just want to take photos of "the way it used to be".

It's been all change at The Old Watch House group as the business expands with shops in Lyme Regis, Ottery St Mary, Axminster and Exeter to accommodate what the owners say has been a surge in people eating more fish.

The group's founder Simon Bennett now sells fresh fish from a pop-up shop in Exeter's Fore Street every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Meanwhile, Ottery St Mary manager Toby has gone back to his home town to run the Lyme Regis shop on Fridays and Saturdays and Laurie Ivers has moved from Lyme to manage The Old Watch House at Miller's Kilmington farm shop, near Axminster.

"Business is good and I'm pleased to welcome Geoff to our team," said Mr Bennett.

"I just hope he doesn't start playing sea bass guitar."

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