Biographies really shouldn't count for much, especially for writers and photographers. Either you enjoy their work, or you don't. How they got there is not very important.On the other hand, there's always idle curiosity.


My birthday is very tidy: the middle day (15th) of the middle month (June) of the middle year of the 20th century (1950). I was born in my grandmother's house in Cornwall but shortly afterwards we moved to England, just across the Tamar in Plymouth. My father was in the navy, so when I was two we moved to Malta: the first time I ever flew. My brother was born there. In 1954 we moved back to Plymouth and in 1955 I went to Kingsland School, a thoroughly old-fashioned prep school where we still had a half-holiday on Empire Day. I learned to play rugger there; broke my nose; and developed a dislike of the game that has not abated in 60 years. During the Civil War it was a Royalist stronghold, hence the name. It has since been demolished and turned into a housing estate.

My mother was a teacher there, but when we moved to St. Budeaux in about 1956-1957 it was too hard for her to get to work, so both she and I left the school. My father was promoted from Chief Petty Officer to Sub-Lieutenant at around the same time. That may have been why we were able to move. My bedroom in the new house had a magnificent view over the Tamar into Cornwall and the Promised Land.

In St. Budeaux Camel's Head Primary School, still open but renamed Weston Mill Community Primary School (I found this out only as I was writing this). It was a proper old primary school, built in 1908, for with separate entrances and playgrounds Boys, Girls and Mixed Infants. Then my father was posted back to Malta, which meant Verdala School, the navy primary school which .was very nearly at its zenith with around 1200 pupils.