CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Dom Joly: Goodbye to a Cotswold life

PUBLISHED: 17:21 14 January 2015 | UPDATED: 17:21 14 January 2015

Allan Mustoe with Dom Joly

Allan Mustoe with Dom Joly


Dom Joly says goodbye to Allan Mustoe, a friend and a true Cotswold character.

The Windrush church was packed – people were standing at the back as the bell was rung energetically for five minutes to summon any latecomers to the service. We’d got there in good time but only just managed to find a seat. We’d come to say goodbye to an extraordinary man – Allan Mustoe, who was taken way before his time. As I sat in the back row and peered over the heads of the congregation to the wooden coffin that sat up front, I found it difficult to believe that I was really there – at the end of a true Cotswold life.

I met Allan when I first moved down to the Cotswolds and settled into the village of Quenington. He was one of the first people that I came across in our new rural life. To say that he was a character would be an understatement. He knocked on the door and introduced himself with enormous charm. In he came for one of a hundred or so subsequent cups of tea as he would wax lyrical about politics, the village, something I’d recently done on the telly or simply to let us know what mischief our Labrador had got up to on one his many escapades. Allan worked on the estate we lived on and his battered old Land Rover would be a familiar sight, his two sheepdogs in the back, with him either clutching an enormous chainsaw or some other sinister looking implement for use that day.

When I’d take the dogs for a walk along the River Coln. Allan would always be stoking some huge fire or fencing off a piece of woodland, or up some long, perilous looking ladder. He’d stop whatever he was doing for a long chat about whatever had caught his interest that particular day. He was a man of many surprises. He’d never been abroad but was spectacularly well informed and inquisitive about any place I’d recently returned from.

I’d talk to him about his life; he was born in Windrush to a very humble family – “the poorest in the village, we were Dom.” As a boy, he was partial to a spot of poaching and always told me that he’d preferred fishing to school that he left at 15 to become a shepherd. He loved the countryside so much and was incredibly useful in guiding Stacey and I through some of the more intricate rituals facing an urban couple who’d set up home in this strange new world.

When I set up a gym at home and started to try to box for exercise he turned up with his own set of gloves and proceeded to tutor me in the finer arts of pugilism, always insisting that I should do this while listening to his beloved band – The Who – at full volume. I asked him why he was so adept at boxing but he just winked at me and hinted of long forgotten battles when he was in the construction trade.

He would always give it to me straight. He was effusive about my early TV work and adored the spoof travel show I did round the world. If, however, something did not sit right with him, he’d tell me straight away. My second book was – “not to my liking, if I’m honest Dom… not really my thing…” and when he discovered Twitter he was often horrified at some of my more feisty interactions with disgruntled members of the public.

He would often invite Stacey and I round to his house for dinner. His beloved wife would load our plates up with hearty grub as we’d chat to his two impressive kids of whom he was so rightly proud.

And now, here I was in this stark, old church saying goodbye to this true Cotswold character. He’d died way too young, in his sleep at home, having done his usual ‘energetic’ dancing at a party.

His kids spoke movingly about their father and how he would never now see them become the successful adults they are already clearly going to be. Allan would have been so proud of the way they spoke at the service. I was certainly exceptionally proud to call him a friend. Goodbye Allan. The Cotswolds is a poorer place without you.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Fri, 12:03

The Cotswolds are abundant with picture perfect locations ideal for a ramble. Gather loved ones, wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with one of these winter walks in the region

Read more
Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 12:23

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search