I was born in Sussex in 1954 – far too long ago. I was an extremely dreamy and shy child, and I used to used to wander round muttering to myself and playing games with imaginary friends. I did very badly at school – I was daydreaming too much to concentrate on anything much.. It wasn’t until I was pretty nearly grown up that I started to think that the world around me might be at least as interesting as what was going on in my own head.I did poorly at school, although occasionally teachers would think I had a lot of promise. In those days we had an exam called the eleven plus, which you did just before you went to High School. If you were a clever kid with a good brain, you passed and went to Grammar School to learn brainy things, and if you were a dumb kid, you failed and went to Secondary Modern School and learnt how to do things with your hands. I went to Secondary Modern School.
Life got rapidly better for me after I left school, but for the first few months I hadn’t got a clue what to do. My dad eventually filled in an application form for a job as a journalist with the local newspaper. Somehow I got the job and went off to do a course for six months training.
The course was great – it was my only real time as a student – but by the end of it I had decided that I really wanted to write and that no other career would do.
For the next fifteen years, I wrote on and off, had casual jobs here and there, spent a lot of time out of work with not much to do, and I enjoyed myself enormously. I moved to Bristol after a couple of years where I lived until I was thirty. Inner-city Bristol was a great place to live, with a big racial and cultural mix. I learned a lot there and got my feeling for life. My book Junk is based on Bristol in those years, and although it is not biographical, you can pick up a lot of the atmosphere and meet a few of the people in its pages.
I was living in London aged about thirty five when I began to think it was time for me to really try hard to see if I could make writing work for me. I’d written a great deal off and on for years, a lot of it experimental, but I’d never really put getting published over writing what I felt like writing. So I had a a go – I did short stories, radio drama, and
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