I’ve worked in an ice cream shop, trained as a hairdresser, studied sociology and psychology, written for and performed with a touring theatre company and backpacked across far-flung countries with loose change in my pocket.
I currently work as long haul cabin crew for a major British airline and I combine travelling with writing. My first novel Purple was written during the sleepless, jet-lagged hours spent in hotel rooms around the world. I’m busy writing something new.
The full story
I was born on the West Coast of Scotland in 1966. When I was two years old we moved to England. We moved house every four years and I used to imagine my dad worked for the Secret Service. I’m quite good at impersonating regional accents.
At the age of twelve I loved dancing around the lounge to Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. Lots of arm circling and pouting! You should play the song and have a go!
When I was fourteen we moved to the City of Chester. I hated school. I was rubbish at football, rugby and woodwork, but I did win second prize in the Christmas cake decorating competition. I regularly bunked off school and went to a friend’s house. We drank hot chocolate, dyed our hair and listened to her mum’s Glen Miller records.
I was at home fast asleep when my final English exam started. After a call from the headmaster my mum dragged me out of bed, threw me into her Mini and drove it at the speed of light. She hurled me into the exam hall with my hair on end. Short of time, I scrawled essays on Midsummer Night’s Dream and Lord of the Flies. It turned out to be my best exam result.
At the age of sixteen I left home after a blazing row with my parents. Working at a local hairdressing salon I had a regular wage, shrivelled-shampoo-hands and a different hairdo every week. When my parents discovered I was gay they seemed genuinely surprised. My dad said, “Who the bloody hell do you think you are…David Bowie?”
Three years later I caught myself in the mirror, I was picking cheese and onion crisps out of a rear molar when I should have been listening to a client’s request for an inverted bob. A friend convinced me to return to education so I enrolled at the local college. I chose courses in Sociology and Psychology (because they sounded impressive) and Theatre Studies (because the idea of performing on stage excited me).
There followed a two-year stint with the co-operative theatre company After Image. I wrote, produced, directed and performed in many of their productions. It was an exhilarating time in my life and I still treasure old scripts, notes, flyers and photos. We got some brilliant reviews, but an unnamed theatre critic (working for a national broadsheet) happened to see us at our worst. Today, his line, “If I’d paid for my ticket I would have booed,” makes me laugh out loud.
In an over-dramatic attempt to escape the misery of a failing relationship (and a certain, unnamed, theatre critic), I backpacked across parts of the Far East, Australia and Mexico. I worked as a cleaner in Melbourne, a sandwich maker in Perth and a barman in Sydney.
Back in England I found myself holding two application forms. One to study English and Drama at Manchester University, the other for long haul cabin crew with a well-known airline. Mmm…decisions…decisions…three years of studying and eating instant noodles for dinner or getting paid to travel the world and stay in nice hotels. What would you do? I chose instant gratification.
Thanks to my job I’ve seen pyramids, temples, monuments, skyscrapers, beaches, deserts and oceans. I’ve sung karaoke in Japan, fed orphaned baby elephants in Africa and had a close encounter with a cheetah. With my photo album full and my legs aching I eventually sat down to write. Because of the constantly changing trips and time zones I’ve been sleepless in Seattle. Writing is a brilliant way to fill the hours and my first novel slowly evolved.
After twenty-five years living in and around London I recently moved to the historic town of Shrewsbury. I live with my husband Arnie who must be the world's most patient man because he's tolerated all my nonsense for eighteen years.