|Place of Birth||London|
|Nationality||Member of the human family|
BioMy professional background is engineering; I began as an apprentice on £3 a week – and that was a forty-six-hour week in 1957. But I’ve been writing in one form or another since my mid-teens, and the story of my writing begins with song.
I found I could sing at the age of fourteen; I taught myself to play guitar (badly) on a guitar my stepfather made, and I started singing with a lad a year older than myself. We came second in a New Musical Express competition and in 1960 did trial recordings for HMV. I turned down a contract with the impresario Lew Grade – he promised fame and fortune, but it would have meant selling myself to his whim. This also led to the break-up of the musical duo of which I was one half.
I met a new singing partner, a Dubliner ten years my senior, and we played gigs in folk clubs and pubs all over the British Isles and Ireland. BBC Radio began recording our performances of traditional English and Irish folk music, and broadcast some of these live recordings. I wrote some of our material, which centred on the words – it was a way of putting across a political message (of the socialistic bent). My deliberate goal was to put myself outside of mainstream society, to attempt to articulate everything that was wrong with society, and to say things – political and sexual – of which the establishment would disapprove. I’ve always made an effort to challenge the norm.
I must stress the kind of environment in which I grew up – it was an oppressive time; society was oppressive. For example, I had two friends, intelligent and articulate, who were victimised and then committed suicide because they were homosexual.
I’ve always read – a lot – since I was around eleven years old. I have my aunt, my foster mother, to thank for that; the first story she read to me was The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. Since then I have lived with books, and with writing.
In the early ’70s I went through a period of writing black, depressive, autobiographical material – very self indulgent – and I would stay up all night writing this material, and then I would burn it. I’ve always written for myself, and I’ve used writing as some kind of safety valve. I’ve written verse since I started writing songs, and some of my songs were short stories in their way, but I didn’t write my first short story in that recognised genre until 2010, when I was sixty-seven years old.
My writing hasn’t changed much over the years – I still want to show the dark underbelly of society, and an exploitative establishment, for what they are. I couldn’t get any pleasure from life if I weren’t non-conformist.
Contributions to SomethingDark
short fiction: “Geoff What”
Grants & Awards
1960 Second place, New Music Express competition.
1957–70 Folk music performances throughout the UK and Ireland.
Education & Training
2010 13-week part-time course, Creative Writing: Malvern Hills College (Malvern, Worcestershire, UK).
1999 A-level, English Literature: Worcester College of Technology (Worcester, UK).
1957–60 uncompleted, apprenticeship in toolmaking, precision engineering (AVW Engineering, Woodham Ferrers, Essex).
1955 (approx.) My aunt taught me to read and write.