The Author - shortly after he got fatter and lost some hair
Jo describes himself as being at the 'barely competent middle-age stage'.
Just prior to the 'totally incompetent late-middle-age stage' he decided to do some writing. The result is six books. Three on their boating adventures and three novels.
If I can get another book published in the next eighteen months I will have written a book a decade. Not a bad return for a bloke who didn't learn to write till he was thirty five.
The truth is that it's taken till well into my sixth decade to have something worth writing about. Previously I could have written about all my business successes, but that could have been one sentence, phrase even. Or documented my sporting achievements, there's another dozen words. It was only when we took the ludicrous decision to take to the water that anything of vague interest surfaced.
In some respects, writing about our own adventures is more difficult than making something up from scratch. When you create characters and situations you are unrestrained, limited only by your imagination (which in my case is a bit of a problem). Writing about me and my wife I have to work within testing parameters, such as telling the truth.
We spent twelve years living on boats. On two narrowboats we trundled round the waterways in the UK and on our 110-year-old Dutch barge we did our best to destroy the infrastructure in Holland, France and Belgium. We saw some extraordinary places and met many wonderful people, some of whom were prepared to speak to us. In fact, looking back, the whole things seems like a warm and wonderful dream.
At school, frankly, studies didn't go too well. Stupidly I preferred to propel different shaped balls around with various implements, like hands and feet. An educational own goal if ever there was one.
I was a baker for ten years, then worked for a company organising sports events, mainly golf and cricket. Jan and I both lived in Littleborough, Lancashire for thirty years but we'd never met till I ruined her chances at a quiz night when I joined her team – and the rest is history (or science and nature, or sport...). We moved to Shropshire, to a hamlet just north of Shrewsbury, in 1995. It was a dark period in our lives when Jan was dangerously ill and we needed a positive change to make us look forward. We renovated a house, sold it and moved onto our first narrowboat in 2003 having bought the shell and fitted all the inside out ourselves. I wrote monthly articles for Canal Boat Magazine while we travelled around the UK. After I was sacked for an 'editorial misunderstanding' I had to find another outlet for my itchy fingers - the result is my six books.
The three boat-related ones are great reminders of the times we've had – maybe they'll inspire you to try something different.
The two novels are products of my tortured mind. Amazingly and humblingly (I'd be surprised if that word got past the editor.... oh, it has) people have said nice things about them.
Throughout our years living on boats we experienced much - some funny, some frightening, some humbling. So if you want something different for your event or gathering, please give us a call.
Outside a pub - not for the first time
This photo, taken on the Kennet and Avon Canal, replaces one taken outside - wait for it..........
The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn
(I was edited out on photoshop)
The Cunnng Man is a rather snappier name I think - though wildly inaccurate