First written in 2014
Finally a chance to write the autobiography that nobody has been clamouring for! In a nutshell, my adult life so far has been divided into three sections, each lasting about a decade. 1) Mucking about doing all sorts of things, then 2) cricket (hold on, don’t hang up!), then 3) writing. Oops, and now Spain and candles, so that’s four.
Jonathan’s Blog with Cassandra’s comments in lady-like pink and Jonathan’s rebuttals in manly blue
“Mucking about doing all sorts of things” included: University (tragically cut short by war – oh, okay, not war exactly; more drunkenness and indolence); property development (come on – it was the eighties!); and lots of travel.
Having left University in order to convert a dodgy old house in an – ahem! – up-and-coming area of London into three flats, I then rented out one of the finished flats (and sold another to pay for the work), and spent three years travelling. Highlights were a year in New Zealand (learning to fly microlight aircraft), six weeks camping across the states, and a couple of months in a place called Vanuatu, some dots in the South Pacific that I’d had my eye on since I’d read about bulldozer driver Jimmy Stevens leading the islands’ independence movement against a joint English and French administration (can you imagine THAT!). All that took care of most of the eighties. Do feel free think “lucky sod” (by which I mean clever, obviously) thoughts, but any unpleasantness will be deleted by our moderators.
Anyway, while I was on my travels in New Zealand I happened to meet a guy called Julian Millichamp. We became mates, and hatched a plan to start a business together. What business? Well, he was in New Zealand running a cricket bat factory, but he was desperate to get back to hand-making cricket bats in the traditional way. So that’s what we decided to do, and founded Millichamp & Hall – finest handmade cricket bats. And guess what? It turns out that he was (and still is) the best in the world. Neither of us knew that at the time, but we were soon convinced by the fact that all – I mean ALL – of the best batsmen in the world, test cricket legends, would come to us (okay, to him) to buy their bats, which they would then re-brand with their sponsors labels. A very cool time. That was ten years of eating, sleeping, and breathing cricket. I played, I coached, I made bats, I gave talks… I can’t even imagine it now. Spending six months a year in Australia for ten years was fun (at least to begin with), but in some ways it was also a bit miserable; because it was cricket, almost all women in the world found me utterly dull, most men did too, and those who didn’t were even duller than I was! I did not find you dull, but was appalled to discover that a cricket game lasts for 8 whole hours. Many, many, God help me, MANY hours spent on the boundary, trying to look alert. You mean… you weren’t always glued?! Ten years to the day after we started it, we sold the business to PUMA in Australia. And that took care of most of the nineties.
The noughties brought a new life: writing – something I am still doing, and loving, to this day. In fact this is year 15 of my infallible 3 year, get-rich-quick, writing plan. I started by trying to write novels, and actually finished three; three poor, unpublishable, but nevertheless completed, novels. I blanket-bombed all the publishers and agents I could find (this was the early days of emails and digital submissions, so we’re talking painstaking hours printing sample chapters, and queueing in post offices), and eventually an agent took pity on me, invited me to meet him, and broke the news to me that I wasn’t a very good writer. However… he did think that my stories, and characters, and dialogue were good (so, it’s just the writing bit, then?), and suggested I tried writing scripts instead. So I did. And with a slice of beginner’s luck that took some time to repeat, my first feature film script was shortlisted for a rather prestigious prize. I’d almost arrived! Which is how the first decade of the new millennium ended – having almost arrived. In the meantime I’d received skip loads of rejection letters, and had compiled a very long list of mean people who should worry when I become president of the world, I’d so love to name names, but they know who they are and should be very afraid but I’d also had some successes: I was writing regularly for a BBC1 daytime drama (Soap? I don’t think so!) called DOCTORS, I’d made a couple of well-received short films (very fulfilling, but a bit pointless), I’d sold some ideas for TV and feature films here and there, and been nominated, shortlisted, and even won the odd award. But, following my self-imposed make-a-change-every-ten-years rule, I was starting to feel that it was time to shake things up a bit.
One of the funny things about when I’d been in Australia was that when I dreamed of missing home, I’d dream of Córdoba, in the south of Spain – somewhere I’d visited a bit when I was a student, in the 70’s and 80’s (remember?). It was as if Spain was calling me. And, luckily, Cass and I had a bit of history together in Spain, too. 1980, Mallorca. Perhaps that’s another story.
We knew moving here to Spain would be an adventure. But, on the other hand, my mates and I had been talking for more than a decade about how one day we’d all be working from home, and no one would need to go into the office; all of a sudden it actually seemed possible. But also, I think I was starting to feel the need to hold up something physical at the end of the working day – maybe a hangover from cricket bat making days. Hence the candles.
So here we are in Spain, living a village life, improving our Spanish, becoming ‘handier’ around our new house speak for yourself!!, and about to start on a scary new business.
Well, that brings me up to date. So… What have you guys been up to?