When I was still at school, and for several years afterwards, art was my favourite subject and drawing and sketching, rather than painting, became my favoured occupation for my spare time. This would all change towards the latter part of 1967 when the writing of, what I thought at the time, was poetry, would soon become in my minds eye, song lyrics, minus the music. And, back then, I was no musician and, further more, didn’t have any asperations to become one! But I did know of a muscian that might just fill that gap. Rob Van Spyk, my closest friend from our Juniour Leader’s Regiment days. He was a fairly keen guitar player and I asked him to join me in my song writing ambitions. I was very pleased when he decided to give it a go. And, as soon as we both had left the Army we got together and began writing our songs, and over the next couple of years wrote enough to fill three long playing albums.
But, alongside this ambition, I had begun to write two autobiographies. One of my childhood titled ‘The recollections of a Fifties Kid’ and one of my former Military life titled ‘With a pause of Two-Three’. It took several years to complete them both, to my satisfaction, and I had three copies of each printed and bound. I assumed they would just remain as family archive material. But when I was being interviewed, for an Imperial War Museum Aurel history, by a rather delightful young lady, I showed them to her. She suggested that I approach the Museum with a view to having them archived. I contacted them and they informed me, in no uncertain terms, that if they were not up to scratch they would not accept them. But, I was very pleasently surprised to soon learn that they were very happy to accept them.
Shortly after this I discovered that the Northern Ireland Veterans Association wanted to publish books on soldiers experiences during that conflict. I sent some of my writing to them and ended up with several of my little stories in three books that were published. It is the small things, like this, that simply encourage you to pick up the pen and to carry on writing.
Having tackled my previous life’s experiences, both as a child and a young soldier, I thought that I would turn my hand to a story of fiction. In the end I decided to write an animal story, and as rabbits had been done to death in the Watership Down books, I chose squirrels for my subject. There followed two years of feaverish, and very creatively fullfilling, activity, which ended up with my story called ‘Follow the Sun’. I was very pleased with the outcome, as a biography is a rather simply matter of sitting comtemplating your memories and writing them down. To create a story, charecturs and a plot, with a beginning, middle and an end was not so simple. But I enjoyed the experience immensly and am very proud of my little book of fiction. As yet unpublished, but I haven’t realy tried to do anything of that kind. Having spent the last 50 odd years attempting to get my songs published, I expect trying to do the same thing with a book would be just as hard!
It was only fairly recently that I was approached by one Bettima Blum, a Proffessor from Paderborn University in Germany, about her task, ordained by her Government, to put together a social History of the British Armed Forces, and their families, experiences in Germany, after the War and up to the present day. She and I have entered into a very fruitful, and interesting correspondence, and she assures me that she will be including some of my little stories in her forthcoming book. I enjoyed my life in Germany, both as a man and a boy, and I am very pleased to learn that she feels my work is worthy enough for her project.