I am the oldest of four children born in 1951 in Kent. I have two brothers and a sister, several nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. When I was born war time rationing was still in force, of course I knew nothing about it. The picture is of my Dad, me and my very first dog, Topsy, who was a mongrel, but would probably be called a Collielab nowadays.
I grew up on a council estate in a small Close that had a large green in the middle with a small parking area in the centre of it. All the kids would play on this green making up stories to enact. I was the leader, ensuring everyone had their part in these games we played day in and day out. We stayed out for hours entertaining ourselves. Not that long ago I went back to where I grew up and found that quite a bit had changed as things always do. I revisited the Close and found the parking area was huge and the green small, the price of progress.
During my time at senior school I was involved in a lot of the school plays. This is where my love of acting came from. Much later I did go to a drama school. My love of writing was nurtured at senior school by my teacher Mrs Joyce Fowle. I was even given an extra ‘rough’ book for my poetry and stories. That was quite a luxury because even back then we had to be frugal with the supplies we had. I remember having to use both sides of each page, which I hated.
I left school in September 1967 having only lasted a short while in the sixth form, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I worked in the office of a local laundry and dry-cleaning firm calculating overtime and wages using a slide rule. This method of calculation was used in the fifties and sixties even though computers were making an entrance, but around the mid-seventies the hand-held scientific calculator made slide rules virtually obsolete.
I joined the RAF in May 1968, 25 days after my 17th birthday. I did my ‘square bashing’ at RAF Spitalgate in Lincolnshire not far from Grantham. For those of you not used to the term, square bashing, it means a military drill performed repeatedly on a barrack square.
I went on to RAF St. Athan to do my trade training as an Aircraft Mechanic Airframes. Long title for what was really a mechanic dealing with virtually all of the aircraft bar the electrics and the engines. I was then stationed at RAF Abingdon in Oxfordshire about seven or eight miles away from Oxford. Being in the RAF and an aircraft mechanic was a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed my time. I went to the Royal Tournament as part of the car driving display team from Abingdon. It was really good fun and I had the honour to serve as guard of honour for the Queen when she attended.
During my time I joined the station drama club and performed a few plays which gave me the urge to do Amateur Dramatics (am-dram). I left the RAF in May 1974 after completing the six years I’d signed up for. I trained to be a motor mechanic when I left as part of my resettlement course for civvy life. I was the first female car mechanic in the area. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands rather than working in an office. However, I did end up doing office work for more years than I care to remember.
At the grand old age of 38 I decided to go to drama school. It was an excellent experience and even though it wasn’t one of the better schools, I did meet some lovely people and learned a lot about acting and myself which has held me in good stead throughout my life so far. I didn’t get any acting work although I did come close once.
But I don’t regret it, I’m of the opinion that one should only regret the things you don’t do rather than the ones you do. The picture is of the cards and flowers I got when I did a one woman show at my local am-dram after attending drama school. It was quite daunting but so worthwhile to push myself and do something out of my comfort zone.
My time in am-dram was fantastic - I learnt how to be a stage manager, build sets, how to dress the finished set with ‘props’ and I even did a bit of sound and lighting.
An all-round good knowledge of a small local amateur theatre club. Lots of fond memories of the people I met and the friends I made.
This picture of Niagara Falls was taken on the first trip my partner and I took to Canada. It was the first time we’d been across the ‘pond’ and we absolutely loved it. Niagara is an amazing place to visit and the falls quite breath-taking. So much so I went on the Maid of the Mist twice! I even used it as a destination in my first book, ‘Jess’.
Since that trip we’ve been across the ‘pond’ many times to the States and seen some pretty amazing places.
Another holiday gave me the inspiration for my second book, ‘199 Step to Love’. I was in Whitby exploring the town and came across the famous 199 steps up to the Abbey. I had also walked passed the gallery that features in the book.
My final job before I retired was with London Underground as a Signal Operator in a signal box. I know you’re probably thinking where else would a signal operator work? Well there are signal control rooms which are slowly taking over from signal boxes. I would set and clear the signals to allow the trains to move and it too was a fantastic job. It was the closest I could get to working with my hands and not being in an office. What a lovely way to finish my working life, doing work I thoroughly enjoyed.
While I was still with London Underground I would work on my first novel, ‘Jess’ which I had written a while ago but not had the courage to see if it could be published. The first publisher I sent it to decided it wasn’t for them, but it knocked me back so into the cupboard it went for a couple more years. Later I realised that one knockback is nothing compared to what a lot of people go through. I dusted ‘Jess’ off and tried again and Regal Crest took me on. I’m now working on my fourth novel, which I’ve set in WW2.
So many books, so little time...