I was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1946. I’ve been fascinated by fiction since my father told me a story in bed one Sunday morning when I was a child of five. [Made-up stories in bed of a Sunday morning were a ritual.] The story in question was called ‘The clue of the bloodstained putty knife’. What made it particularly thrilling was that the putty knife existed, as did the shed (it was our shed) in which the knife was found covered in blood (in the story). I still have the putty knife. Here it is:
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 story telling 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 truck load 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 film maker whilst earning my living teaching in art school, university, and eventually, for my sins, becoming a Dean of Faculty i.e. senior academic bureaucrat.
I ran my own arts and creative industries consultancy for three years before becoming the Director of The National Centre for Craft & Design for five years. I was a member of the Regional Council of Arts Council England, and have sat on various arts and media industries boards (e.g. EMMedia) and have been chair of Lincoln Arts Trust Ltd (that owns and operates Lincoln Drill Hall http://www.lincolndrillhall.com for a number of years.
I’ve been writing full time for the last ten years and you can find out more about my work on the “Writing” page. Do take a look.