Biography (The printable bits)
Part One - 1960 to 1985
So that’s me aged nine in the photo. To further clarify – I’m the one on the top and a pony at the bottom.
My parents emigrated to Tasmania from the UK and I grew up in a suburb of Hobart, Tasmania called Mornington.
Our house was great fun and we were never without a dog to love (something that has continued my entire life). We were at the lower end of the socio-economic scale – or to put it another way, bloody poor. It took me years to work out how much my parents sacrificed to give me a great childhood.
The scheme that encouraged them to move to Australia was designed to offer working-class people in the ’50s and ’60s the dream of a fresh start in a new country. It was cheap to apply for and earned all who took it up the soubriquet of “Ten Pound Poms”.
My memories of school years at Warrane Primary and Warrane High are mainly of good friends and playing Aussie Rules Football or Cricket. In that mix as well – my first smoke, alcoholic drink, kiss, and a few things best not admitted to.
I enjoyed these years but the level of violence and bullying at the school was of a level that would be considered improbable these days. While this meant that it was survival of the fittest, hardly the ideal scenario, it worked in my case if for no other reason than it left me with a sense of self belief and the burning desire to succeed at something. Anything.
Academically, I was no star, with two exceptions. From a young age, I loved language, writing, and was a natural storyteller (or more accurately a bullshit artist as some might suggest), so English was my favourite subject. I read voraciously from as far back as I can remember.
And while formal maths wasn’t my thing, I did have an ability to quickly calculate complicated sums in my head. Naturally, I put this talent to good use. Just before I turned fifteen, I scored a job pencilling for a bookie at the dish-lickers (Greyhounds) and occasionally the gallops. If the boss had a good night, he would celebrate early. Which meant I found out how to drive at about the same time. With the benefit of hindsight this doesn’t seem like much at all but the characters I got to meet seemed quite exotic.
At sixteen I filled in on an occasional shift pulling beers in a pub. Technically I wasn’t old enough, but I was already 6ft 4in and my age was never questioned.
In case you think my interests and career choices by now were trending down the wrong path, by this time creative writing had a firm hold of me as well. I would hate to re-read the stories I came up with back then, but I was entranced by the joy of putting my words and thoughts down on paper.
I drifted for a couple more years but in 1981 left for the mainland to train as an Air Traffic Controller. ATC was never likely to be a long-term career for me, but this was a brilliant time in my life. Not only did I get to meet and train in a course filled with bright, fun, and quirky people, but towards the end of the training, my life changed forever, and in wonderful fashion, when I met Debbi. 30 odd years later she is still putting up with me.
This seems like a lot of words already. More to follow in Part Two.