“I was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1946. I’ve been fascinated by fiction since I was a child; my father told me made-up stories in bed on Sunday mornings – it was a ritual. My favourite was called ‘The clue of the blood-stained putty knife’. What made it particularly thrilling was the putty knife existed, as did the outhouse (it was ours) in which the knife was found covered in blood (in the story). I still have the putty knife. So far as I know, it’s only ever drawn blood accidentally”.
Why stories? Why fiction?
Well … My dad managed a small cinema in Cardiff – “The Central Cinema” – on the Hayes. It had a profound influence on my love of fiction.
The movies & radio
The programme changed twice a week and, if it was ‘deemed’ suitable, I went at least once a week and always twice in the school holidays. My dad loved movies so much that he would clip a few frames from each of his favourite films (don’t tell anyone will you?). So it was storytelling on the screen and I loved it. You won’t be surprised that one of my favourite films is “Cinema Paradiso”. We didn’t have a TV at home until I was twelve (1958) but there was radio and it was wonderful. I can remember sitting in the little kitchen at home in 1956 listening to the BBC Home Service reporting the Hungarian Uprising against the USSR. I can still hear the reporter’s voice – something like “Here beneath the walls of Budapest …” there was gunfire. It was exciting; for all I knew it was a play. Radio was all a narrative to me. When I was a kid entertainment mostly consisted of going to watch rugby at the Arms Park, going to the movies, reading books by the truckload and not doing my piano practice.
I began writing my own stuff when I was thirteen – poems and other imitative stuff – none of it survives – thankfully! Then as the years passed I tried to paint like Jackson Pollock, make photographs like Cartier Bresson and write like Ferlinghetti until I found my own voice.
At university, I did a degree in Sociology. I went on to be a documentary photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker whilst earning my living teaching in art school, university, and eventually, for my sins, becoming a Dean of Faculty i.e. senior academic bureaucrat.
My writing & Photography
I’ve been writing full time for the last fourteen years and you can find out more about my work on the ‘Writing page’ from the navigation bar above and I’ve been making photographs for over 50 years and you’ll find some of those too on the ‘Photography page’, also available from the navigation bar above. Do take a look.