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I was born in 1947. I spent a fair bit of my early childhood in what was then the Gold Coast but received my education in England, firstly at a Catholic prep school and then at a C of E ‘public school’. Lordy, how’s that for balance? I did a Natural Sciences degree at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and after spending three years in Australia, completed an Information Science degree at the City University, London. The science from Cambridge I’ve loved and used all my life. The Information Science I used for a while, firstly with the Wellcome Foundation, next with Berk Pharmaceuticals and finally with Revlon Healthcare when it engulfed Berk. I still remember sitting on a train, going for the interview with Berk Pharmaceuticals, thinking, what on earth am I doing going for an interview with a company called Berk. But Berk it was. After all, Barcelona gets away with an airport called El Prat, and Spain’s main military airbase is called Morón. Berk offered me a job at the Berk offices near Godalming, outside London. This was part of the point, to leave London. Of course, no company could survive for ever with a name like Berk but Berk it remained until the Revlon Healthcare took it over. I moved out of information science and into clinical research with Revlon and in 1984 into something similar but far less regulated, clinical trials with medical devices. This was with a private American company, Meadox Medicals. Meadox was taken over by Boston Scientific in 1996 and I remained there until I departed the corporate world at the end of 2004. Watch out for my next book "Hip Hip Boo”, a dark story of misdeeds in healthcare.


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Aged five in what was then the Gold Coast

Along life’s path I married Liz Goldie, in 1977. Liz and I did well, with three sons, Daniel, Benjamin and Joshua, all doing fine in their different ways. Further along the path, work consumed too much of both of us, and sadly, Liz and I parted. Several years ago I met a ***STAR*** lady, Alison, on the internet dating site Parship. Too long a story to tell here: improbably for the development of a relationship with a dude from Little Chalfont, Alison comes from Belfast. She is a blazing piece of good fortune.


Writing


I'm one of those people who discovered a vocation late rather than early in their life. Any vocation: you’re lucky if you have one!

In 1985 I started writing the children’s stories I was telling my three year old son Dan. I thought this would be an easy route into publication and establishing a money-earning career as a writer. Ha ha. The phrase ‘rejection slip’ entered my vocabulary. After conspicuous absence of success with more than 45 children’s stories, and not wishing to attempt teenage fiction, in 1996 I embarked for unknown territory, a full-length grown up novel. Would I be able to finish a complete novel at the hour a day I used to be able to average by getting up at five o'clock in the morning? (Not my preferred part of the day). I chose a setting that wouldn’t involve any time-consuming research, the medical world in which I worked and the home environment in which I lived. After 416 hours on the first draft and a further 400 hours of fettling, the resulting novel was taken up by a small publisher and appeared in print in 2002 as “The Progressive Supper”. What a thrill!

Writing is always on my mind and in 1986 an old squash-playing friend in Sydney gave me the idea for a squash story. I wrote this under the title “Caught off Court” between 2005 and 2011 (my writing is about as fast as my movement on the squash court). The end result was published on January 1st 2012 as “Sex and Drugs and Squash’n’Roll”. This was a strapline I’d dreamt up that the cover designer, a young Sikh guy called Jag Lall, suggested we should use as the title. Good idea?

Back to The Progressive Supper: I sold just a few hundred copies when the book came out. The small publisher didn’t have resources for publicity. The story’s hero is a vascular surgeon, and almost uniquely for a work of fiction, the book was given a (highly complimentary) review in the world renowned academic monthly, the Journal of Vascular Surgery. Sadly, the publisher hadn’t even put the book up on Amazon when the review came out, so I must have missed a lot of sales in the medical community. Partly for this reason, and partly to respond to people’s comments about the way The Progressive Supper started, I decided to republish the book, this time as “Just Desserts”. Just Desserts is available on Amazon, Kindle and other electronic formats, and if you’d like a signed copy, directly from me (contact details below). Download Chapter One to give yourself a flavour.

Way back in the early 1990s I was asked to do a Hallowe’en story for my son Daniel’s Scout Group. “Jon Lantern’s Nightmare” was the result, and it went down well. In 2013, taking advantage of the wonderful ease of the Kindle system, I published Jon Lantern’s Nightmare electronically, with a cover icon realised from my concept by Will Smith, a talented art student at Chesham Grammar School. JL’sN is the first part of what will be a trilogy, and I will finish part 2, “Jon Lantern’s Blind Terror”, in 2015. I’m intending then to take less time over the final part, “Jon Lantern’s Cosmic Horror”.

These days I live just outside London, England, with Alison who moved here in 2008. She has had to cope with an unexpected intrusion into my day to day life, my discovery that a bad knee, which had ended my squash playing in 1982 when I was thirty five, could tolerate the slow pace of older age group squash competition.

Squash


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In play against the Rolls Royce of Masters squash players, Philip Ayton

I learned to play squash at the age of thirteen or fourteen. I was disappointed not to get a blue at Cambridge (a year out with two ops on the knee), but played in a winning second team against Oxford. In the early 1970s in Sydney I went from Z grade to first grade in a couple of seasons, and played first grade for College Park in Adelaide for a year before heading back to England. I reached the UK national rankings, got a ‘Murray’ at the City University, represented British Universities, was Hampshire county champion in 1973, 1974 and 1975 and county captain in 1980 and 1981. Eventually my knee obliged me to quit. Twenty five years later a friend cajoled me into playing some gentle games of doubles, which led to singles to improve my pathetic performance at doubles and then to training to improve the spot-the-movement-on-time-lapse-photography speed in singles. The training led to success in ‘Masters’ competition, in my case firstly the o-60s, and in one of the thrills of my life I gained selection for the 2010/2011 England Masters team that won the o-60s Home International Tournament in Cardiff. I have also won the 2010, 2011 and 2014 Jesters tournaments, the 2010 English Open Masters, the 2011 Ulster Masters and the 2013 and 2014 Welsh Open Masters, boyo. I was tempted in the autumn of 2012 to get a new knee - it was a struggle at the time to walk more than a couple of hundred yards - but I reached the final of the first o-65 Masters tournament of the year in Bury St Edmunds, and at least temporarily shelved the idea of an operation. I continued to do well that season, and was selected for the 2012/2013 England Masters team. In April 2013 we won the Home International Tournament, this time in Dublin. Indeed doublin’ my international success. The 2013/2014 season went really well, with not too many troubles from my knee, and five finals and two victories in Masters tournaments. in probably my best come back ever, I won the opening tournament of the 2013/14 season in Bury St Edmunds after losing the first two games 1-9, 0-9, and in March 2014 I won the North West Open in Stockport. In the season-ending 2013/2014 Home Internationals I played number two for an England team that was victorious in Nottingham, and a week later, I was runner up, again, in the British Open Masters in Hull. The 2014/2015 season started badly for me due to a sore Achilles tendon, but that has responded to the prescribed ‘eccentric’ exercise. Most exercise for 67 year olds is eccentric, and after Christmas, into 2015, I've had the best run of my new squash life, winning consecutive regional Masters titles and in February, the National Championships in Manchester. UK champion, what a thrill. The three and a half hour drive back from Manchester witnessed my longest continuous grin ever!