My early years were spent in South London with mother Barbara, father Harold, brother Nick and grandparents Ethel and Jim. We were a family bulging through the walls, more so when my Granny, Emma, joined the household for nigh on two years. There, I wrote awful short stories and made up dreadful plays. I went to the local junior school, Hatfield, headed by the wonderful Mr Barker, whose deep, soft voice, I can remember even now. Both he and my class teacher, Mr Parkes – whom I gave a terrible time – predicted a future that included writing. It was hardly surprising as my dad was an amateur playwright and director, and my grandmother concocted the most wonderful bedtime stories.
Much against expectation, I passed my eleven plus, and was incarcerated in an all girls school, which I loathed, after which, I wheedled my way into Wimbledon School of Art, which I adored. After failing to be accepted for the theatre design course, I worked backstage at Wimbledon Theatre, sweeping the boards trodden by Roy Castle, John Inman and Barrie Howard, Dana, Jack Douglas and Jess Conrad, and then the Savoy Theatre, where I set and struck props for Dame Celia Johnson and Sir Ralph Richardson in William Douglas Home’s play, ‘Lloyd George Knew My Father’. In 1972, I earned my Equity Card working as a stage manager at Butlins Rep., Clacton, and progressed to the backstage glamour of The Connaught Theatre, Worthing, The Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead, and The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. In both Worthing and Canterbury, the artistic directors allowed me to spread my own directorial wings with several late night shows and three Theatre In Education programmes.
In 1975, I was awarded a two year bursary by the Regional Theatres Trainee Directors’ Scheme, allowing me to train at The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, The Phoenix Theatre, Leicester, and The Nuffield Theatre, Southampton.
Following this, I directed in theatres throughout the UK including: Dundee Rep (director of touring company), The Citizens’ Theatre Glasgow (TAG), Young Vic and National Theatres, and drama schools including Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now Conservatoire), Guildford School of Acting (GSA) and Rose Bruford College. I initiated and ran the Tayside Writers’ Festival, Dundee, and founded Fable Productions – a young people’s creative writing company, Berkshire, 1996.
With over fifty original and co-written writing and directing credits for theatre, three Dickens dramatisations for GSA, Priestley and Shakespeare adaptations for BBC Radio, my urge to write has always been apparent. Since 2006, I have won several prizes for short stories and self-published two novels: TERRIBLE WITH RAISINS, July 2013, and JIGSAW ISLAND, 2020. Both are on Amazon as paperbacks and eBooks.
Forgot to mention an English Literature Degree at the University of Reading, and an English as a Second Language teaching qualification.
Of late, I have had the privilege of teaching English to lovely people who have arrived on our shores from Syria, Afghanistan and, now, Ukraine. Hearing their harrowing stories is sobering, making me appreciate what a charmed life I have had…so far.
I ain’t going’ anywhere yet, though – apart from back to Leros – and maybe back to Ireland (to visit family then leap off down to the South West, once more) – and Italy – oh, then there’s Spain, France – maybe Australia again? Will the world ever be a calmer place where such adventures can happen for everyone – and people can live with their families in peace?