About Me

Tollesbury, Essex, United Kingdom
I was born in the Summer of 1969 in Dagenham, just on the border of East London. School was largely unproductive but enjoyable, setting me up for something of a wayward but interesting life! On leaving school I had various jobs including putting up stalls at Romford Market, working in a record shop, putting up ceilings, gardening and road sweeping. After resigning from an insurance company to play in a band, I found myself unemployed for two years. Then finally I got back on my feet and I've been a psychiatric nurse since 1997. I wrote A Cleansing of Souls when I was 22 years old and followed it up with Tollesbury Time Forever almost twenty years later. I started writing The Bird That Nobody Sees in September 2011 and it was released in July 2012. In terms of writing, my heroes are Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I would also include Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits as literary influences. So that's me I guess - scruffy, happy and in love with literary fiction, music and life...

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Bob Dylan and me...

If there was ever a hub for my entire literary and musical sensibilities then there is no doubt that it is Bob Dylan. I believe that our passions, our likes and our ideals are all connected, are all part of an ever evolving web that is spun in our youth - and I have come to believe that we spend the rest of our lives seeking out cultural works that reinforce our developing beliefs and taste and in that way they become an integral part of us. So, for me, it began with Bob Dylan and, of all his albums, Slow Train Coming.

Slow Train Coming was released in August 1979 and was Bob Dylan's 19th studio album. I had no idea it had alienated millions of his fans due to its religiousity, nor that one of the songs on it (Gotta Serve Somebody) would be his first hit in three years and would go on to win him a Grammy Award the following year for Best Male Vocal Performance. Yes, all you doubters - BEST MALE VOCAL PERFORMANCE!

All I knew was that, at eleven years old, listening to the album on my parents record player, something clicked, something made sense. And when you're eleven, something that makes sense is indeed something to cling on to. At that age I started to work down Romford Market and was taking home £6 a week for putting up a couple of stalls on a Tuesday, taking them down on a Wednesday, putting them back up on a Thursday and taking them down again on a Saturday. With there being no Sunday opening in those days, I would wait until Monday after school and spend my wages at Parrot Records in Romford, buying every Bob Dylan album I could find.

And I would take them home and listen to them on the record player. But I didn't just listen to them - I would lie on the front room floor with a pen and a notebook and write down all the words to all the songs - that was when I wasn't studying the album sleeves, back and front! Then I would lie in bed reading the words.

So it was that I heard names of people who I otherwise would never have heard of - Johnny Cash, Thomas Paine, Rick Danko, TS Elliot, Ezra Pound, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemmon Jefferson, Woody Guthrie...

I read the biography, No Direction Home, when I was seventeen and further names were writ large across my cultural horizon - John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Kris Kristofferson and Jack London. And from each of these were added more silken threads in the ensuing years, lending a wonderful verisimilitude to my wayward life.

Thus was my web formed between the ages of eleven and seventeen - formative years during which, if we are lucky, we are subjected to influences that give us a wonder for life. So yes, it was a Slow Train Coming, but when it arrived, well, this boy did fly!!!

I'd just like to finish this piece with my favourite verse of any Bob Dylan song - One Too Many Mornings. It is off his third album, The Times They Are A-Changing, which was released in 1964 when he was just 23 years old -

"It’s a restless hungry feeling
That don’t mean no one no good
When ev’rything I’m a-sayin’
You can say it just as good.
You’re right from your side
I’m right from mine
We’re both just one too many mornings
An’ a thousand miles behind"
                                                       - Bob Dylan

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