Born and raised in Birmingham, I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a family with a rich and diverse mix of influences. My parents were working class people, and dad became a university lecturer after being asked to do so following his stint as a mature student with two young kids. Mum was an evacuee who met dad in Birmingham having grown up in Devon. Thanks to his lecturing job, I grew up around the students my dad taught. They were from Malaysia, Nigeria, Hong Kong and beyond, and that exposure to different cultures and viewpoints I am deeply grateful for.
After A levels I studied politics at Sheffield University and spent some time working for an environmental lobby group in Florida before returning to the UK and inadvertently becoming a copywriter. A wisdom tooth was involved - I had one removed, and in a fog of whisky and painkillers wrote a job application letter in the style of Raymond Chandler that ended up with me being hired.
What I saw at the Hertford ad agency was enough to make me want to get out and do something else, which I tried and failed to do before being headhunted by a London agency that at least gave me the opportunity to work for clients who are well known. At the same time I did classes at London Cartoon Centre, and put together a well-received anthology - Discordia.
My brother's early death was followed 3 months later by a third of the ad agency I was part of being made redundant. For me it was an opportunity to escape and heal, which led me after a few months to Nottingham. At that point it was still feasible to get by unemployed, and I was in no shape to work after family tragedy. Whatever else I was doing, I kept coming back to writing, and came across a scriptwriting class written by Jon Wood, who had written and performed in the first play I'd ever seen at the age of 7.
Since then I've supported myself by a mix of freelance copywriting, and some work in and around training and coaching. I was chosen by the UK Film Council to deliver screenwriting classes, and enjoy doing that, which has also led to doing script development work over the years for production companies and directors. The credits that follow further on outline those projects that have made it to the point an audience can experience them. There've been many that haven't.
Doors opened as the result of a film treatment take on my first staged play winning a competition that introduced me to producer Tim Bevan (Four Weddings And A Funeral etc). Doing episodes of Doctors for the BBC was one outcome, but I also experienced mental health problems as the result of a variety of stresses. It was a vile experience, but one that was ultimately necessary and beneficial - I view it as a shortcut to a journey of recovery that's led to a much more satisfying life subsequently. Part of that journey involved being a support worker in a hostel for homeless people with mental health and/or substance issues for four years, an opportunity I'm deeply grateful for.
Since that time, life has got better on many levels. One outcome of that is I'm now writing projects I am passionate about and believe in, and collaborating with some amazing people. All being well, that will translate into a greater degree of success with the projects I'm not initiating or co-developing.
TV - 2 episodes of Doctors (2003, 2005). I also wr0te a script for The Bill as part of a writer development programme under the supervision of the show's production team.
The animated show concepts Spacers and Lumi co-created with my partners in Storia-Creative are represented by distribution agent Sara Cooper of Meta-Media (2018).
Short film - White Lily (2016) won 5 awards at Focus International Film Festival including Best Film. It is available on Amazon Prime, and also hosted by Dust on YouTube (link above). Directed by Tristan Ofield.
It Is What It Is (2014) - got great reviews. Made in Canada by director Michael Stevantoni.
Online serial - Manny's Garage Sale (2018) made in LA, various writers and directors.
Making Sparks (2013). Directed by Jack Delaney.
Theatre - Breaking In. A two-hander one act play commissioned by Nottingham Playhouse in 1997. Subsequent versions have included a run at the Hen & Chickens in London (2007) and there's an audio version on my website.
In Your Head (1995). Devised with Hullabaloo Performance & Workshops, concerned the impact of dyslexia on families, and received support from dyslexia organisations.
Out Of The Night (1994). Created to accompany a production of 1001 Nights at Nottingham Playhouse, a multimedia performance that had shows in its own right.
Dancing With The Captain (1993). One act play for 3 actors accompanied by 2 musicians commissioned by Nottingham Playhouse.
Probably A Robbery (1993). One act play for 3 actors. A film treatment version won a Times competition, securing me a meeting with Tim Bevan, producer of hits including Four Weddings And A Funeral.
Comics - Dadtown, the online comic I do with artists Raben White and Jess Parry is nearing completion, and a print version is set to follow.
Blather, a collaboration with artist Corrina Rothwell, features monthly in LeftLion magazine.
As a result of a competition win, I had a story featured in the anthology Women Of Darby Pop (2017).
I ghost-scripted the series Super Sikh (2016), which has received international attention.
I contributed to and edited the stories featured in online anthology Dawn of the Unread, which received the Guardian Award For Educational Excellence in 2015.
I edited the anthology Discordia as a student at London Cartoon Centre (1992).
Short stories - Rules Of The Game - published in the Route anthology Naked City (2004).
Killing The Goodness, a Bridport Festival winner (1991).
Other - I supported choreographer Keisha Grant of Keneish Dance in developing narrative and text elements for her show High (2017).
Press When Illuminated - a talk I wrote for the Find The Others Festival in Liverpool in 2014 that's been performed elsewhere too. A studio recording with accompanying video editing is linked to above.
Dragon Run Saga - 6 hours of fantasy audio drama in serial form designed for app that's never been released (2013). I also did a considerable amount of development work for a fantasy MMORPG that never made it to launch stage.
Animation, Books, Film, Poetry, Radio, Short story, Television, Theatre, Videogames
This comes from a work-in-progress biographical project. The Nigel referred to is my brother, and this is set in the early 90s in Birmingham.
With Nigel living at Bim’s, and Bim’s rough charisma, it wasn’t long before mum was roped into being a getaway driver. I’m pretty sure she didn’t know quite what was going on - you just wanted to go along with Bim. Anyway, she managed to fit them and Erdi into her red Mini Metro and they went and used the keys they’d been given to break into a social club by a guy who worked there, Taphead. Erdi was Indian, a 20-something with a crush on my 40-something mum. I thought Erdi was the name his family had given him, but no – it’s short for Erdington.
Bundling out of the social club and into mum’s car come Bim, Erdi, and Nigel. They go through the booty when they get back to Bim’s place. He’s got bottles of rum and whisky, and loads of cigarettes. Erdi has vodka. Lots of vodka. And Nigel? He’s got a fire extinguisher. They took the piss out of him for that.
At this point mum was dating a scientist involved in research at CERN in Switzerland. I never got to meet him, but the idea that someone who sent subatomic particles around the Large Electron-Positron Collider to uncover the fundamental forces of the universe was in a relationship with my mum is fascinating. The mental image I get of particle physicists is that they’re not very streetwise, which mum would have been sensitive to, so she probably didn’t introduce him to Terry next door.
There was a danger the physicist would run into Daktari, too, a pub singer who wore a safari suit, and had a thing for mum. The vocalist made it known he was out to get whoever had nicknamed him after the protagonist of a TV series which featured a safari suit wearing vet in Africa and a lot of stock footage of the animals that lived there. Things could have got awkward, since I was responsible for the rechristening.
I don’t know if mum told the physicist about what happened when she came with me and Bim and Erdi to pay a visit to Taphead one night. Taphead – I never got to find out his actual name – wore aviator shades and a bomber jacket, and his flat was full of amazing tat. A blue suede portrait of Elvis, Reader’s Digest boxed sets of popular music of the 50s and 60s, crossed African spears on the wall. He also had some hash, which Bim happened to know because he’d sold it him just the other day and we wanted to smoke it.
We went around to steal Taphead’s hash. For some reason mum was with us. Bim probably enlisted her to keep Taphead talking. And with mum there, Erdi came along too. If Taphead was surprised to receive 4 visitors he didn’t show it, and we were chatting happily for a good while. At the same time, Bim and I were searching for our hash.
It was all going fine, when we were visited by the spirit of Quentin Tarantino. Erdi found a pair of furry handcuffs, and there was laughter in the room. Then Taphead was standing behind my mum, whose hands were now cuffed. Taphead looked unhappy, probably because he’d rumbled that Bim had pocketed the hash we’d found in an ornament. Mum wasn’t looking too pleased either.
Bim and I exchanged glances. The protocol at this point was unsure. Even less so when Taphead flourished a cowboy-style horn-handled knife. Next thing I know, Taphead throws the knife and it goes into Erdi’s foot. Erdi stands bewildered – he’s done nothing to provoke an attack as far as he or I know. His blood seeps onto one of the white bits on Taphead’s fake zebra skin rug.
And then Tarantino’s spirit departs, and we’re left with the scene after the set-piece weird action happens, the one you often don’t see. Seeing Erdi’s blood makes Taphead aware of the gravity of the situation.
“You’ve fucking fucked my foot, you arsehole,” says Erdi.
Taphead takes this in. Erdi’s foot is fucked, yes.
Bim places the hash where Taphead can see it.
Taphead takes mum’s handcuffs off.
Normal etiquette isn’t up to a situation like this. We just leave. Bim and I can get some hash from Terry, even though that means paying for it.