Most of my life I have earned my living by writing books and newspaper columns. Since the age of eight, I’ve played a stringed instrument – first a ukulele and then a guitar.
One was work, and one was play.
A few years, ago something unexpected happened: the two sides of my life merged. Having written stories for the page of many years (long stories, short stories, for children of all ages, for teens), I found myself writing them to music.
At the same time, the business of playing and performing covers of other people songs, which I had done quite happily and profitably down the years, began to appeal to me less.
My career as a songwriter and singer has taken me musical and literary festivals around the world, to theatres and folk clubs. I’ve taken a one-man show of sings and stories to the Edinburgh Festival. On the radio, I have written and presented a documentary series about the history of politically incorrect music called Taboo-Be-Do! For BBC Radio 4, and one sang my version of Noel Coward’s ‘Bad Times Are Just Around the Corner’ on the day before an election of Radio 4’s news programme The World At One.
Since 2012, I have released four CDs of my songs, Lovely Little Games(‘Brilliant,’ The Word), Sometimes Your Face Don’t Fit (‘Very funny,’ Acoustic Magazine), Enough About Me (‘It put a big smile on my face,’ Tom Robinson, BBC6 Music) and Playing For Time (‘Classic folk blues in the making,’ Fatea Magazine). Recorded in southern Italy, Playing For Time was selected by the Sunday Times as one of its Top 100 Albums of 2020.
As an author, I have written five novels, many children’s books – including the Ms Wiz series and Boy2Girl, which have been published in many languages around the world. My biography of Willie Donaldson You Cannot Live As I Have Lived and Not End Upo Like This was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week.
My most recent book for young readers Racing Manhattan (2016) was described by the Wall Street Journal as ‘terrific – a winner’