For the first 17 years of my life, I lived in a 50s council house in what was then a Cheshire mill town.

Adopted at 6 weeks, I spoke my first words to my natural mother 41 years later.

Each wrist got broken in the course of a 3-week cycling holiday in France.

I was vegetarian for a period but have a particular liking for all kinds of offal.

I once spent 3 weeks in Bonn as the token trade unionist in an EU delegation of young entrepreneurs and the only one with any German.

I’ve worked as a labourer in farming, building and factories, as a care assistant, an accounts clerk, a plumber and trade union official.

I married at 19, then again at 45 to someone else. The first time was a mistake.

Paris is my favourite city – no better place to flan about.

I played B flat cornet in a brass band for a time.

I flew back from Warsaw the day before Solidarnosc was founded, but had no hand in it.

I dropped out of university after 4 terms.

I’d like to speak better French and also understand what I was saying.

Lots of people tell me I should have been a lawyer – I probably agree.

Many of the clothes I wore as a teenager were shoplifted.

Up to age 11 I wanted to be a fighter pilot.

I spent most of the 1980s opposing Thatcher and Reagan.

I’ve ridden a pedal bike at over 45 mph – downhill. It felt good.

I’ve never worn evening dress or a black dickie bow and don’t plan to. This has meant that I once missed having dinner with the U.S. Ambassador.

My favourite word is autodidact – there’s not enough of it about.

Though I love doing it, I can’t sing for toffee.

I narrowly escaped having a criminal record as an adolescent and was once held in the cop -shop for a shooting incident I wasn’t guilty of.

Bougainvilleas are my favourite plants draping over a white stone wall, preferably somewhere Mediterranean.

I wish I could paint like Gustav Caillebotte.

I was 20 years a local district councillor, ending up as Leader of a Labour Council for the last three.

I’ve not yet found my writers voice – or at least the one I’m happy with.


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