Like many of the moments which ultimately change your life, I very nearly missed it. It was a dark, cold night at the end of winter, 2003. I was tired, there was football on TV and I really couldn’t be bothered to go a meeting of Scarborough Writers’ Circle. But in the end I hauled myself off the sofa…
The speaker was Paul Napier, then the editor of the Scarborough Evening News at the time when it was published every day. “We’d quite like a columnist,” Paul said. “Ideally, something funny.”
Blimey, I thought, I can do that. How many times had I read those ‘Day in the Life’ pieces in the Sunday supplements and thought I could just as well? And there was that time we’d had to take my eldest son to A&E – he’d sniffed a piece of Lego up his nose. Surely I could get something funny out of that?
I could. I sent it in the next day. And I was hired. “See if you can keep it going for six weeks,” Paul said. “If you can do that, you’ll probably be OK.”
14 years later the column – and now a blog at – is still going strong. I’m proud to say that in those 14 years I have never missed a deadline, including one time in 2006 when I was in intensive care, and had my laptop smuggled into the hospital. I’ve written around 700 columns and more than 400,000 words.
When I started writing my children were 9, 7 and 4: they’re now 23, 21 and 18. We’ve gone from party bags, nativity plays and the sheer hell that’s a family changing room at the swimming pool, to teenage angst, slamming doors and, ultimately, leaving home.
But all good things come to an end. In September my youngest son, Alex, (Ben if you read the blog) will go to university. It’s tough to write a ‘Dad blog’ when you’ve no children at home, so after 14½ years it’ll come to an end. I will, though, publish all the columns/blog posts as a series of books, starting in August/September of this year. And I’ll publish a few of my favourites on here, just to give a taste of what’s to come…