Phil Cosker

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:

putty knife

so far as I know, it’s only ever drawn blood accidentally.

Why stories? Why fiction?

The Central Cinema 1949

The Central Cinema 1949

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.

Getting started

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.

After school

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.

Slow Blind Walk (c) Phil Cosker 1981

Slow Blind Walk
(c) Phil Cosker 1981


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 for a number of years.

My writing

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.


11 thoughts on “Phil Cosker”

  1. Thanks Phil. To ask a friend to speak about private memories from their personal history seems to me either to trivialise things or to be impertinent. So some things go unspoken. I am wiser, and you are still fascinating. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to know you, and to gradually know you better.
    I’m now off to feed on your photographs. Such a nourishing website, thank you.

  2. Bob Bath said:

    Hi Phil, you may not remember me-I last saw you in 2005 at the CHS reunion-we were both in Roberts House and both in 1C(aagh)!!! I was a nerdy swotty guy(still am), slightly built and was picked upon by a number of jocks-and this was in first year sixth!! You were the only guy to stick up for me. A gracious thing to do which I have never forgotten-so good on you and glad to hear of your success. Have a beer on me!!-and ,maybe one day I’ll be able to buy you one-perhaps at the Green Dragon in Lincoln!! So Cheers mate and all the best-Bob Bath(Toronto, Canada)

    • Hi Bob
      Thank you so much for your very generous words; I was very moved.
      How the hell did you find my blog?
      I often think of those days at CHSB and they do not fill me full of unalloyed joy!
      What are you up to? Do you even come back to the UK? If you do we’ll have that beer.
      Let’s keep in touch?
      Very best wishes

  3. Great site Phil – good to see you are so busy. All the best. Eleanor

  4. Gwyn Parry-Jones said:

    Loved hearing this Phil – remember having a great fight with you on the floor of classroom 2B in Cardiff High! But you know I never realised your Dad’s connection with the old Central Cinema! I think my only visit one was an illegal one to watch a Brigitte Bardot movie. My best wishes to you – deserve a peaceful retirement after being a Dean!! Gwyn

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