Anniversaries, birthdays and other such occasions are usually seen as celebrations of milestones successfully reached.  People are allowed to reminisce about the past year, smiling at the things that went well and feeling sad at the things that went badly, but always with an eye to the year ahead and how their life WILL improve.

I have reached such a milestone, although it isn’t a birthday – far too many of them have passed for me to feel nostalgia about birthdays any more!

No.  I type this on the twentieth anniversary of finishing work at the factory (see my ‘potted’ bio elsewhere on this site).  I still remember the looks on peoples’ faces when I told them I was going to take my A-levels and that my plan was to go to university:  a mixture of disbelief and amusement at my presumption of intelligence.  Some of them definitely didn’t believe me.

Then again, I’m not sure I believed myself.

There is one thing I will always remember and never cease to be grateful for:  the support of friends and family who convinced me that I should give up the daily grind and try to make some use of my brain.  It is a debt I can never repay.

Thank you all.

When I look back it’s still hard to come to terms with the massive changes going to university made to my life.  If I had a time machine I could go back twenty five years and  tell myself of all the things that would happen, including that fact that I would be writing books.

No. That wouldn’t work:  the younger me would die laughing …

Getting up to travel to the factory to chop up bits of chipboard to make kitchen units was never really my dream way of earning a living.  As I sit here in my ‘study’ typing away at my computer, with Jo in the other room doing schoolwork and Owen playing ‘Annoying Orange’, I have to admit that I’m a lot more content with my lot now.

However, there is one thing that I do miss, and one way that I have gone ‘backwards’:  I earned more working in a factory in Burnley twenty years ago than I now earn as a writer.  I can think of no worse indictment of the nature of publishing than that this can be the case.  Nor am I the only writer who thinks this:  I know of at least two other blogs where authors – and ancient historians at that! – have complained about the fact that (some) publishers assume that ancient historians will work for peanuts.  (See e.g. – entry titled ‘Always something to do … ‘)

Well, what do you know.  Amidst all this talk of change I have come to realise that some things will never change:  I’ll always moan about a shortage of cash!