It’s just as well David Johnson says early mornings are the best time of the day.
For the last 29 years - and three months - he’s been opening up at Perkins Newsagents in Horncastle’s Market Place.
But, last Thursday not only marked the end of the month, it marked the end of David’s working business.
He’d have loved to have carried on, but at the age of 73 doctors have advised him to finally retire because of health reasons.
For those 29 years, David has been getting up at four ‘o clock in the morning - come rain or shine, or even snow.
You’d think he’d have had more than enough of those early starts...but no.
“Best part of the day,” says David as he sorts through the papers on his penultimate morning at work.
“I might be retiring but I will still get up at the same time.
“It will be strange not coming into work.
“ I’ll really miss it. I’ve enjoyed every single minute of the job, the customers, the rest of the staff...everyone. Graham (Perkins) is a great boss.
“It’s sad really, but when the doctors says pack it in, you pack it in.”
David admits he will miss his Wednesday morning work ritual of a cup of tea and a read of the Horncastle News!
It’s not just newspapers and magazines...the shop sells a range of greetings cards, stationery and other gifts.
He says: “We get customers from Boston and Lincoln because we can get the publications they want.”
He admits the advent of computers has ‘changed the business beyond recognition’.
He and his family celebrated his retirement with a meal at the Admiral Rodney Hotel in Horncastle last Friday.
David has seen massive changes during his three decades.
He’s responsible for opening the shop and his keys are still attached to the leather ‘fob’ that Graham’s father gave him when he turned up for his first day.
Born and bred in Horncastle, David worked in the family’s fruit and veg business, originally on East Street, then the Bull Ring and finally Prospect Street.
However, the arrival of the Co-op meant the switch to Perkin’s...and he’s not missed a delivery since.
He explains: “When the Co-op came, it cost us £400-a-week in takings. We couldn’t continue like that.
“Someone contacted me and said: ‘Mr Perkins wants to see you.’
“I thought I’d done something wrong but he offered me the job.
“Looking back, I’d have been better off on the dole.
“But the wife was working at the time and we just about scraped through.”
Working at Perkins is something of a Johnson family affair.
Wife Susan is employed there and will carry on for another couple of years before her own retirement, while one of the couple’s two sons - and daughter - have also been on the payroll.
David says he’s made some good friends with regular customers.
“It’s the type of business where you get to know everything that’s going on in the town,” he adds with a glint in his eye: “I’m not sure what I’ll do ....but the wife will find me something!”