I was born in Morecambe. When I was two we moved to Lancaster, where
we lived over the tripe shop my mother ran. My father was greenkeeper
at a local golf club. I went to the local grammar school – another world, that I
was both drawn to and repelled by. My one enthusiasm there was for painting, which
wasn’t encouraged in that academic school, so I was persuaded instead to
study geography at Cambridge. More art, more ideas, more reading. Much about this
period will emerge in the novel I am currently writing. I went to Leeds as a
postgraduate to train in town planning at the School of Art, hoping thereby to combine
the creative, the comfortable, and the socially-useful. However, tumultuous times
in the School of Art, and a life-changing relationship brought out the contradictions
I had been living with, especially concerning my working-class origins. I decided to
drop all notions of ‘career’, sell my labour as and when I needed money, and spend my lifetime reading, writing, painting, thinking, to see what came of it.
I moved to London, married, and worked variously as labourer, hospital
porter, jewellerymaker’s assistant, all the time writing unpublished stories
and unfinished novels. I took a job in the Ecology Bookshop, in the early days
of the environmental movement, and was so enthused by ideas of low-impact technology
that my wife and I moved to France and worked for two years on our own smallholding.
When we ran out of money, I worked in an abattoir. This experience provided
the background for my novel Diggers and Dreamers (2006).
Back in London, and determined to learn a real skill, I trained as a carpenter (the
trade my brother had been in all his life), and worked in the building
trade in the West Country for the next ten years. I also learned and taught
Divorced, I took a job as a postman, becoming the union representative.
I resumed writing poetry and began to have my work published in magazines,
and to read at poetry cafés and literary events in the South West. In 2004 I
published First Cut, a collection of poems. In 2005 I was commissioned by Sherborne Contemporary Arts to write poems inspired by their art works; this resulted in an
exhibition, a performance, and a pamphlet of poems, Double Vision. In 2006, I
published Diggers and Dreamers. I am currently working on a novel set in the sixties,
and a book about Vincent van Gogh. Read more on my blog.