A Very British Blog Post (actually a Very Brighton Blog Post with a London Irish flavour)
Vikki Thompson over at The View Outside has invited readers to take part in this blog hop. You can read her post HERE which gives a very different take on these questions….
If you would like to have a go yourself put your link in the comments section.
Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?
I was born at home in central London. The address was Number One Friend Street which sounds like something rather wonderful, straight out of a children’s book. In fact it was a grim block of flats built for the deserving poor by the Victorians and I presume pretty much an overcrowded slum by mid 20th century. I don’t remember it – we moved around the corner when I was a baby. I do remember it being pulled down though and it is now a very des res street in Islington, across the road from Saddlers Wells Theatre and walking distance of St Paul’s Cathedral. The house we moved to was built in the reign of Queen Anne and is still there, although I think it is now a single residence. Back then there was a terrible housing shortage in London. My mother always used to say there was a family behind every window which was an exaggeration, but not much of a one. We (Mum, Dad and two children) had three rooms at the very top of the house.
I now live in central Brighton but have also lived in Seven Kings in Essex, Walthamstow, East London and Archway in North London.
Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at present? I so admire brave people who have lived in different places around the world. I have friends who have made a home in China and Japan, in Africa and the Americas…me? I’m just about 60 miles away from where I was born. But, of course, I am the child of brave people. Both my parents were immigrants – my mother came to London during WWII to be a nurse – my father came after the War.
The City of London skyline as viewed toward the north-west s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?
I love London with its vibrant mix of cultures, its history and its diversity, but it is just too big, too sprawling so I am very happy to be in Brighton. It is often called London by the Sea and there are similarities (also known as the damp end of Wardour Street) but it has another quality that you don’t find in London. I think of it as being a Mickey Rooney kind of town – “Hey, why don’t we put on a show”.
Mickey Rooney. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It’s where you can have a go, try your hand at stand up, acting, writing, media entrepreneurship…anything. And if you fail no one will think the less of you, but if you succeed London is only 50 minutes away….
The festival is on at the moment and there is nowhere I would be rather in May. When I first came to live in Brighton I remember being struck by the fact that you weren’t asked what you were going to see in the festival, but what you were going to do in the festival…
Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?
A Good Confession is set in Clerkenwell, the part of Islington I grew up in. It’s a period novel – it is set in the early 1960s just before the Beatles, just before the world changed. Cathleen and her daughters live in the rooms that I called home and walk the streets I knew as a child, the girls go to the school I attended and the church I went to on Sunday. Hmmm, ever heard the phrase: write what you know? Well, I did that. South west Ireland is also very important place in the story and yes, that is why my mother’s family come from. (County Kerry to be precise)
Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?
I think it is very hard to apply a characteristic – even a positive one – to a whole nation. I mean does stiff upper lip apply to inner city binge drinkers and the dry wit of Liverpudlians; to Cornish fishermen and Britain’s-got-talent-contestants to Sikh businessman in Leeds and Karaoke singers in Manchester…I could go on (and are the Celts of Scotland and Wales among the British stiff lipped lot?).
But if I was pinned down I think I would say the people of this country share a robust tolerance and a natural inclination not to complain (I’m not entirely sure that is always a good thing) and a tendency to refuse to make a drama out of a crisis (which is a very good thing).
Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?
Oh, I think British Bulldog is an even worst stereotype and less useful. (I know it works in the insurance adverts but I’m not sure it does elsewhere…)
Q. Tell us about one of your recent books
The one I’m working on at the moment is set in the 1980s (I’ve moved out of the era of black and white into colour!).
Q. What are you currently working on?
Flash fiction, non fiction in the form of a creative writing ebook, a play and editing my second novel, completing my third. This blog. Lesson plans. A Charity ebook. And there’s a short story idea knocking around that wants to be written but I’m trying to ignore it..
Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
With my family and my friends and – right now – at Brighton Festival and Fringe
Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
There’s nothing as interesting as people so I see no reason why my stories shouldn’t appeal across frontiers. A Good Confession sold well in America and I love reading about people from different cultures and countries (Thousand Splendid Suns springs to mind). Growing up it took me a long time to realise that I can learn as much from a good novel as I can from a fat text book
Q. Can you provide links to your work?
Thank you for asking – links all over the place but I will put another one HERE .
HAVE A GO AT THESE QUESTIONS YOURSELF Go on, it’s fun and look up Vikki’s answers HERE