Originally published: 24 Sep 2018
Author: Jeff Osment
Published by: Lush
Length: 247 pages
I love Lush products and have done since back in the beginning when they were a much smaller mail order company called Cosmetics to Go. They are fun and always smell delicious and I love their ethical policy, especially reducing the amount of plastic they use in their products. This year I also discovered they run a book club out of their office in Soho and I have been to a number of events there and have seen and met some great authors.
Dear John: The Road to Pelindaba is the biography of Mark Constantine OBE, co-founder of Lush as told by his lifelong friend Jeff Osment, a powerful story of enduring friendship interwoven with an inspirational story of business tenacity and success. Dear John follows Mark’s story from his childhood in Weymouth and the disappearance of his father when he was just 2, through his troubled teenage years, failure at school, homelessness and on to global retail success.
Set against Jeff’s secret search for Mark’s long-lost father and the unravelling of his family history; Dear John: The Road to Pelindaba is a story of friendship, loss, hope, innovation, principle and above all, tenacity.
Jeff Osment has kindly written a guest piece exclusively for me to share with you here:
For over ten years an elegant bottle of men’s cologne called ‘Dear John’ has stood on a shelf in my bathroom. It was given to me by my best friend Mark Constantine OBE, the perfumer and entrepreneur at the head of the £1billion global cosmetics retailer, Lush. Except for an occasional dab behind the ear, I’ve never used the cologne, because it has sentimental value. ‘Dear John’ is the imagined fragrance of a long-lost father, created by a son still desperate to find him.
Ever since we were boys Mark had often told me the story of how his father had abandoned him and his mother, when he was eighteen months old, and disappeared into Africa to join the Royal Kenyan Police. Fifty eight years later and approaching his sixtieth birthday Mark was no nearer to finding out what happened to his father, or even if he was still alive.
It was gone midnight one October evening when I had the idea to trace Mark’s family tree in time for his birthday the following July. Any grandparents were long gone but could the records of the dead lead me to anyone still alive who might help to unravel the mystery of what became of John Constantine?
I didn’t know it at the time but I was uniquely qualified to undertake this quest.
I had dabbled in genealogy for many years researching my own family tree; I had worked in Africa as a filmmaker and I had an intimate knowledge of Mark’s life including many photographs that I had taken of him, his family and his businesses down the years. I was destined to be his biographer.
We had met at Wolf Cubs in our home town of Weymouth in 1963 when I was ten years old; we went to grammar school together; we met our girlfriends, now our wives, in July 1969, and we shared a flat in London when we started our careers. I even drove the van when Mark delivered his first batch of natural cosmetics to The Body Shop in 1977 and began a relationship with Anita Roddick, which changed his life.
It also made him very rich, but there was still one thing that money seemingly could not buy – a loving father. A real father, not the harsh step-father who had destroyed Mark’s relationship with his mother and who had locked Mark out of his own home at seventeen and made him homeless. After almost six decades, time was running out to find that real father; the man who by abandoning his baby boy, unwittingly gave him the reason to make a success of his life.
‘Dear John: The Road to Pelindaba’ tells the story of how I set about searching for John Constantine, and everything that happened to a rebellious schoolboy, and his friend, on a life journey that starts in a Dorset seaside town in the 1960s and ends on a hillside in Africa over fifty years later.
Dear John: The Road to Pelindaba was published by Lush on 24th September 2018 in hardback, price £14.95. Available from uk.lush.com and all UK & Ireland Lush shops, and available to order in all UK bookshops.
About the author:
Jeff Osment is a retired filmmaker who has made over 300 films and videos for business in a 40 year career, starting as a projectionist in a London advertising agency in 1972 and finishing as the creator and producer of Lush TV from 2006 to 2014. He has travelled all over the world on filming assignments and won international awards for his work. In 2015 he took early retirement and started writing.