Most authors are in the game for life. They feel compelled to carry on writing until they drop.

Retirement is one of the fewwords outside their vocabulary. Not so Malcolm Acock.

At the age of 82, after one last flourish, the Hadleigh writer has set aside his keyboard for good. “I am done,” he says. “I have written everything I have to say. I have no more dreams, at least when it comes to writing.” The firm finality is echoed in the title of his last work, a series of thoughtful essays entitled Conclusions of an Essex Man.

The short, philosophical pieces convey Malcolm’s reflections after a long and varied life.

Malcolm may be in his eighties, but his mind remains as fertile as ever. The essays range over a huge variety of subjects – from dogs to the question of why humans lost their fur (partly inspired by viewing Fifty Shades of Gray), from improvements in sailing technique to good manners, from military service to gravity, from train-spotting techniques to the power of love.

These are not merely random jottings, however.

There is a pattern to this diversity, and the essays build up to a single decisive message. Malcolm’s ultimate conclusion amounts to about the strongest assertion that anyone can make – God exists.

Having worked in the property business all his life, Malcolm has become fixated on the idea of structures, both in solid building terms, and abstract terms. “I have always been struck by the great medieval cathedrals,”

he writes. “Masons created those spectacular works with the sole aim of honouring their maker.”

Nobody any longer creates vast cathedrals, but for Malcolm, science reflects the same spirit. “Nowadays our imagination soars when it regards the wonders of science, and it offers constant revelations.”

Malcolm has been particularly inspired by the recent pictures sent back from the mission to Pluto. “I had thought that there would be insufficient light out there from the Sun to light up Pluto,” he says. “But I was wrong. The pictures from the new Horizons spacecraft have shown us, once again, the power of light. My amazement at what science shows us, reinforces my religious conviction. It makes our religious belief, that the universe has a designer, purely logical.”

There is a parallel reflection on the power of geology. As well as what lies above in the heavens, he is also keen to remind us of what lies beneath, moving but unseen. “Over millennia some ocean beds have become land. Southend High Street is now one of these. The soil inland from the top of Pier Hill is golden sand. We just don’t see it.”

This series of reflections brings to an end a writing career which spans more than 20 years. Born in Leigh, Malcolm spent his working life running the family property business. Much of his spare time has been spent trying to launch an invention.

“It consists of a matrix of water pipes to run under roof coverings, between the rafters,. I started to develop it because I felt that conventional heating systems were unsightly, and especially wrong for beautiful and historic buildings. In the end, the costs of developing prototypes and obtaining copyrights were beyond me.”

Malcolm’s wife died in 1993, leaving him not just bereaved, but directionless. “She had been something of a wordsmith, so eventually I followed in her footsteps,” he says. He decided to draw on his many quirky experiences as a chartered surveyor.

“There have been police stories, hospital stories, lots of trade stories, but none about estate agents until now,” he reasoned.

His stories appeared under the title In Order to View.

“Now I’ve moved on,” he says.

“I have remarried and I am working hard to keep pace with my newwife. It is time to live life again rather than writing about it.”

  • Conclusions of an Essex Man is available online via Smashbooks