I love to write. All my life I've been writing short stories, poems, lyrics and eventually novels. I currently have two books on Amazon, with another in progress and an ever-growing waiting list of ideas...
I do some blogging, both on my author site and for the Katie Melua fan site, (details of those on the Web master tab), but those don't always get priority when I'm in the groove with a novel! I'm also currently editing a novel for a friend in Holland.
My early career was in the print trade, initially as a printer and later as a page makeup artist. Those jobs developed my eye for detail and made me a good proofreader. Computer programming gave me logic and attention to detail. It is a combination of my experience in the print industry, my computer knowledge and my love of writing that makes creating eBooks seem like something I was born to do.
If you loved "The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy" then so did I. Anyway, imagine being abducted by aliens while you were weeding the garden. Imagine the woman of your dreams being abducted too. Imagine being whisked off on a joyride around the galaxy to discover strange new planets with even stranger inhabitants. Well, stop imagining all that and read "The Planet Baggers" instead. It has all of that and more, including alien shoe shops and a vaguely scary monster. Space is a big place. Don't you want to know what's out there?
Back in 1983 a pocket-sized little black book found its way into my hands. Within seconds it had become a prized possession. The Meaning Of Liff by Douglas Adams & John Lloyd changed my liff. And indeed, life. These two giants of comedy had already enriched my dreary school years—Douglas with The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy and John as producer of Blackadder and Not The Nine O'Clock News.
Liffs are a genius concept. There are a seemingly endless number of everyday items, experiences and wry observations that are familiar to us all and yet have no word to give them official recognition. This ludicrous oversight by dictionary compilers led Douglas and John to take matters into their own hands and create a dictionary of their own especially for these 'liffs'. Rather than make up names they had the inspired idea to put place names to good use. Anyone that has spent time poring over a road map will have noticed the mind-boggling number of towns, villages and hamlets blessed with spectacular names that are, frankly, wasted on them. Liffs put those names to far better use.
In 1987, an expanded edition of TMOL appeared, called The Deeper Meaning Of Liff. After that there was nothing until After Liff, which arrived 30 years after the original, in 2013. After Liff was not only an entirely new set of definitions—it was also partly the work of fans. Now, this can either be seen as an extremely generous act by authors John Lloyd and Jon Canter or an indication that they were too idle to come up with enough definitions for a book on their own. Either way, AL can be seen as a labour of love from the Liff community. After Liff contains three of my Liffs and they are repeated in this book, though I am not telling you which ones they are on the grounds that you probably couldn't care less. Somebody, some day, will identify them, by which time I may have discovered a suitable place name to describe 'one who performs a tedious and pointless task of cross-referencing which can serve no practical purpose to anyone'.
Here's one I wrote during lockdown, "The Silence Of Solitude"
I cannot really deny it. I am something of a computer nerd. I was lucky enough to be at an impressionable age right at the dawn of home computing. My first programming experience was with a Sinclair programmable calculator that had 36 bytes of volatile memory. Yes, I said bytes. We're talking a quarter of a Tweet here to write a program and it was lost when you turned the calculator off. Yet in spite of those mind-boggling limitations the book of programs that accompanied it ran to over 200 pages!
From there I progressed to the wondrous Casio FX-602P which had 512 bytes and could store 10 programs at once. Store! Yes! They were still there when you turned the calculator back on. Oh, the simple joys of life!
The next step was a home computer. This was well before the days of PC and Mac and there were a whole host of manufacturers to choose from. Sir Clive was at it again with the ZX80, then the ZX81 and Spectrum. Sir Alan Sugar got involved and released Amstrad computers. Even the BBC made a classy computer. The best compromise between affordability and capability was generally considered to be the Commodore 64. But my favourite were the Atari Computers. They knocked spots off everything else in terms of what you could get them to do but ultimately the cheaper C64s and Spectrums hogged the lion's share of the market. I still have a couple of Atari 800XLs in the loft. They haven't been switched on in years and may no longer work but I haven't the heart to part with them. After the golden era of 8-bits I worked my way through Atari STs, Commodore Amigas and ultimately on to PCs. Some time around 2000 I ditched desktop computers altogether and became laptop-only. A couple of years ago I finally made the switch to MacBooks, and though they are definitely the best computing experiences I have ever known they are still far from my ideal computers—there are still too many bugs, glitches, hardware and software issues, intrusive updates, unintuitive features and so on. I've seen computers develop beyond all recognition but we are still in the infancy of these amazing inventions. Just imagine what computers will be able to do in a hundred years from now. I'm not being funny, but I doubt you can.
My author site. This is a blog site intended to complement my writing so it is mostly thoughts on writing, tools I use for writing, where I get my inspiration and so on, as well as a place to park some of my poetry. I'm trying to update it more often but there are just so few hours in the day...
This is a site for fans of Katie Melua. I started it because I wanted a project that would allow me to maintain my web skills. It needed to be live and regularly updated to keep me on my toes. Katie is my favourite singer and I consider her to be somewhat under-appreciated—after all, only Kate Bush has had more consecutive top ten albums as a solo female UK artist—so I thought a well-made fan site would help to redress the balance. Unlike a lot of fan sites, I don't litter it with ads and clickbait to try to profit from her name. It is run at a loss but I don't care: it is a labour of love and a pleasure to maintain, especially since Katie herself is a fan of my blog writing.
Most of my passions in life I have inherited from my Mum. But most of all, I have her creative streak running right through me. She used to paint, sew, knit, dress dolls, write poetry... and much more besides. All whilst trying to raise three boys. She grew up during the war and didn't have the greatest education but that didn't stop her writing hundreds of poems. After she died I created a web site to show case some of her poetry. There is plenty more to add to it in the future.
I've been a naturalist (note the 'al', it's important) since I was a lad. I credit the Swallows And Amazons books for that. I love all of nature but especially trees. And trees are special.
I'm not one of those that can name everything I see. If I need information I look it up. I've always had to rely on intelligence rather than memory but that's not such a bad thing.
I can't tell you how important walking is. Actually, I can, and I am doing. It is the best form of exercise. But it is not just good for you physically, it improves your mental well-being. Even an uneventful walk is beneficial but if you happen to see something special your seratonin levels shoot up and you feel amazing. It can be simply a beautiful view or sunset, or a sudden encounter with wildlife. Even if you always walk the same route it will never be the same experience twice. There are so many variables such as the weather, the time of day, the time of year, which plants are in flower, which birds are around, and so on. Earlier this year I walked past a church as I had done hundreds of time before but I suddenly noticed the sun was right behind the top of the spire and was producing a breathtaking halo effect. Five minutes later or earlier and the angle would have been wrong. Because you have to catch something like that just right I may never witness it again. That's part of the joy—when you set out on a walk you just never know what you might encounter.
Trees are my comfort blanket. I never feel more alive than when I'm in a forest. My favourite materials are paper and wood, which is no coincidence. They help maintain my connection with trees when I'm indoors. All those clever scientists trying to work out what to do about climate change are ignoring the solution that nature has provided. Trees can save us all.
Birds are another source of great joy. Anyone that has been doing a bit of grim and lonely weeding on a cold winter's morning only to look up and see a robin perched on the handle of their spade will know what a lift it gives you. As does birdsong. My favourite birds are owls and raptors and I'm lucky enough to see barn owls, little owls, kestrels and buzzards often on my walks. In 2019 I spent some time in Georgia and witnessed the breathtaking spectacle of millions of raptors migrating south through a 'corridor' across the Caucasian mountains. There were honey buzzards, black kites, vultures, eagles and many others, thousands at a time flying over. It was unforgettable, but then Georgia is an unforgettable country.
I don't know if I'm an interesting guy but I'm certainly a guy with interests. Lots of them. I've mentioned a few to the right but there are many more. Besides the usual ones like reading and music, and walking, I have a deep love of space and anything to do with it, gardening, bird-watching, baking, and so on.
As a lad I was passionate about the Swallows and Amazons series of books by Arthur Ransome. That passion has never left me. For a while I was on the Northern Region Committee of The Arthur Ransome Society and helped organise events for members. I wrote some software years ago to help learn semaphore code (used in the books) and thanks to DOS emulator apps it can still be run to this day, even on an Android smartphone!
Many years ago I met an Italian guy making bracelets out of leather cord. I was mesmerised watching him work. He showed me what to do. We became friends and I was hooked on making jewellery. It is such a therapeutic thing to do. I could probably have made a business of it but I was concerned that would drain all the pleasure from it so it remains a relaxing hobby, though it does mean I make far more than I sell! Sometimes I keep it simple and classy, but I do have an active imagination and I have been known to make some fairly wacky earrings. At the end of the day it's down to the wearer whether or not they have the personality to pull them off!
I must have been eight or nine when I discovered Origami. I've loved paper for as long as I can remember but finding out you could take one sheet of it and make your own toys was a revelation. I used to make flapping birds, jumping frogs and so on but as I grew out of playing my preference shifted towards functional origami—making useful things. I don't do so much of it these days but now and then it is useful to be able to make a bookmark, a little tray to hold small items (or sweets!), or even a paper cup, which is really useful at times and takes seconds to fold.
I'm no Paul Hollywood but I do love a bit of baking. Mostly bread but sometimes cakes and other treats. My main staples are soda bread and khachapuri, a Georgian flat bread filled with cheese—I say flat bread but the Adjaran variety is like a boat of molten cheese with an egg and knob of butter floating on top. You can put on weight just looking at it!
The Swallows And Amazons series of books by Arthur Ransome defined my childhood and gave me a love for nature and the outdoors as well as several other interests such as astronomy and geology. They are such well-written books, about children as opposed to simply for children. This makes them very readable for adults too.
For a while I was on the Northern Region Committee of the Arthur Ransome Society and had an amazing few years helping to organise and plan events. I was lucky enough to meet some of Ransome's relatives as well as some of the people he had based his characters on, such as Dick Kelsall (Dick Callum) and Taqui Altounyan (Nancy Blackett).
I was born in Lancashire some time during the last century. I currently live in Lincolnshire. In between, I've lived in Canada, Cambridgeshire and various parts of Greater London.
My favourite places are Cumbria and Georgia (the country). I hate seafood. I own a guitar that hates me. I'm still a bachelor. I love cats but haven't had one since Sandy died five years ago at the grand age of 22. I bake bread and eat it.
I attended Deacon's Grammar School in Peterborough, where I obtained 5 'O' levels, including Maths, Physics and English. I later obtained 'A' levels in maths, physics and electronics.
I have an honours degree in Computer Science from the University of Lancaster.
I have City & Guilds Certificates in Machine Printing and also in Carpentry & Joinery.
I served an apprenticeship as a lithographic machine printer and later worked as a page makeup artist producing four colour separations for magazine covers such as Motorcycle News and Angling Times. I also trained as a digital scanner operator.
I worked in London for a multimedia company developing touch screen kiosk applications for clients such as Moorfields Eye Hospital and Daewoo Cars and worked on several accessible web sites.
After experiencing redundancy three times in my career I decided to try my hand at self-employment and started my own gardening business in Lincolnshire, which was successful for many years until I had to stop during a period of illness in 2018. It was following this that I began writing my first novel, "The Planet Baggers".
I was delivered into this world by none other than Dr Patrick Steptoe, one of the pioneers of fertility treatment who went on to develop IVF.
I can be spotted in the video for Katie Melua & Lisa Batiashvili's song "No Better Magic".
Any general enquiries, email : firstname.lastname@example.org
(Hawkers = Spammers so don't try to sell me anything at this address!)