I grew up in Gosport. I am a writer, musician and performer as well as being a specialist in homelessness working with those rough-sleeping on the streets of our towns and cities. I provide advice and assistance to Ministry of Justice teams working with homeless ex-offenders including those leaving custody with no accommodation, visiting prisons, teaching others about the law. I am privileged to meet and work with the smartest people, assisting those with complex and deeply entrenched behaviours.
I often speak at major conferences on homelessness issues with previous invitations to Stormont and the Westminster Social Policy Forum. I was a key driver of the government’s Mortgage Rescue Scheme following the banking crash in 2008, advising the banking industry on how to treat mortgage debtors with more understanding. All of my stories touch on themes of displacement, disconnection, drugs and alcohol. Normal shit.
The overarching theme of the Pinkerton Road series is how the truth gets bent out of shape, often along with our own fragile motives and values, leaving us at the mercy of those who tell lies to manipulate us for their own ends.
I was born in St Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth. I lived in Gosport and went to Brockhurst Infant & Junior schools before going on to Gosport Grammar School as the last intake in 1971 before it changed to Bay House Secondary Modern after amalgamating with Privett Comprehensive. It was at this point that I became an entirely different pupil after being released from the fettered discipline of Grammar school where things like education and good behaviour were considered to have some sort of importance. These elements were not so relevant at Bay House Comprehensive where pupils were expected to catch buses between lessons because the school was still split between two faculties. Teachers appeared far more stressed about bus timetables than teaching ones as two thousand pupils fought each other for an education between stops.
Although I was more interested in motorcycles and guitars at the time, one teacher had a defining influence on my creative behaviour if not my general one. As a means of punishment, I was made to join an English class taught by Mr Hook who, coming from Brooklyn, New York, did not take prisoners - or any shit. Mr Hook’s class was designed to be a detention centre housing the schools ill-disciplined and unwashed English ne’er-do-wells until they could be released into the dole queues and building sites of Gosport.
The attraction was instant. Mr Hook was uninterested in following the defined curriculum and would often read aloud to the class from American classics such as Last Exit to Brooklyn – without shying away from its gritty language and subject matter. Unbelievable for the time. It was Mr Hook that discovered my enthusiasm for writing and encouraged me to choose my own subject matter rather than the restrictive topics offered to the rest of the class.
It also reinforced my belief that rules are, at best, self-restricting temporary guidelines that should be tested at every opportunity in order to make meaningful progress. This can also apply to the law of the land where required...
Despite the handicap of an engineering career that took me to different places around the world such as Finland, USA and the Isle of Man, I've always been artistically creative. I've played the guitar on stage for the last forty years and written my own songs alongside poetry and painting. I've sold many pieces of art but now turned to writing as my main artistic output since finally publishing Beyond the Pinkerton Road after eight years of rewriting and editing; and moments of despair and capitulation.
A separate novel, The Boatman’s Dog was published in November 2017. While this story has a ghostly element, its theme is essentially about age and how it impacts all of us eventually in one way or another – whether it’s ourselves or our relatives. And it celebrates the wisdom of merging the old with the new rather than simply discarding one in favour of the other.
I now live in Hampshire with my partner Jackie and our animals - Miley the mad Staffie and Guinness, an Irish Sports Horse. Sadly, we’ve lost Dandy, a Dark Bay gelding and Smokey, a Maine Coon the size of a house. They were a key part of the inspiration for the animal thread in the Purple Wood trilogy and so they live on in the books as well as our hearts.
I have finally come to realise that there is so much of 'me' in my books and characters that they can only be the stories of my own life...