I was born in Wigan in the industrial north of England but spent most of my teens in St.Helens, famous for its glass industry and its rugby league team. Whilst we had a bookshelf in the front room and my Dad had a subscription to a monthly club, no one ever touched the books that sat in a pristine condition under the Trechikoff painting of The Green Lady and the three flying ducks that hung precariously from the wall. We were only allowed in there on birthdays or when we had visitors. My parent’s reading was limited to The News of the World on Sunday but this was hidden away from us when Errol Flynn’s diaries were published.
I did manage to get into Cowley Grammar School, however, and left at 18 armed with 2 A levels in Latin and History and particular expertise in Virgil’s Aeneid and elegiac couplets. I worked briefly at Pilkington Brothers glass manufacturers in St.Helens before moving to Chadderton near Oldham where I spent 3 years as a commercial trainee alternating between long spells in a boiler suit in the oppresively noisy factory and study periods at Manchester College of Commerce.
Dreading the prospect of spending the rest of my life as a computer programmer and desperate to emulate my Dad as a successful salesman, I joined British Olivetti and then Honeywell Computers where I acquired the title of Sales Executive, a silver Ford Corsair and the fabulous salary of £2000 per year. Also backless leather driving gloves and synthetic leather shoes. A year of trying to sell computer systems to the ailing cotton industry, I drove the car into the garage wall at high speed, laughed hysterically and resigned the next day.
I subsequently played rugby in southern France under the name of Walter Graham before returning to London, attending the Polytechnic of North London and then the School of Oriental and African Studies where I obtained my MA specialising in the economics and politics of Communist China. I applied for a job with the Foreign Office in Hong Kong but ended up as one of the last District Officers and Magistrates in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate in the Western Pacific. Unfortunately, my two year old son died tragically there and I had to return to the UK.
Returning to London, I obtained a further MSc in Development Economics and spent the last 35 years as a senior economic advisor to the Asian Development Bank, DFID, the European Commission, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.
I recorded all my travels in volumes of notebooks and scraps of paper and translated them into an autobiography entitled Miscellaneous Gratuities which I first completed in 2003. I also wrote endless short stories during long plane journeys and in lonely hotel rooms.
I started writing seriously in 2008 and took Katy Darby’s Short Story Writing course followed by Hannah Robinson and Dictynna Hood’s Screenwriting Course at City University, London. I was awarded a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Kingston University in 2010 and a Master of Fine Arts in 2011 specialising in screenwriting with the legendary Barrie Keeffe (The Long Good Friday/Sus) as my inspirational supervisor. I have published poetry and short stories, articles and books on African economies and have been shortlisted for numerous screenwriting awards in the UK and USA. I have also written a wide range of articles for the largest on-line travel company in the USA, Viator.