Dear Friends

I have been asked by the curators of this virtual archive, to sketch in a little history of my life in the belief that it may help you to understand what kind of mind conceived the characters that I created and their misadventures. So, having sharpened my quill and lit a guttering candle I urge you to draw near and grant me leave to utter my confession before it is too late ….

I was born more years ago than I care to remember backstage during a performance of ‘Hamlet’ in which my actress mother was cast as Ophelia.
It was my mother who instilled in me the importance of stage craft which basically amounted to being well rehearsed, speaking clearly and communicating to the audience. She also nurtured my love for quaint old movies featuring quintessentially English characters such as Margaret Rutherford, Alastair Sim and Will Hay, which is by way of an excuse for my later behaviour and for my skewed view of the world.
My father was less outgoing. He was a writer who used to entertain me with his Jules Verne-styled bedtime stories featuring explorers who set off into the wide blue yonder in a balloon in search of lost continents and strange creatures. Unfortunately, his descriptions of the apparatus were so involved that I would fall asleep before the travellers reached their wondrous destination and so I was left with a fascination for invention and the spirit of adventure, but little sense of geography.
I was an only child (with no brothers or sisters to annoy) and was sent away at an early age to be educated at Dr Benjamin Twists' Prep School For The Sons of Gentlemen where I spent the lessons staring out of the window and playing war games with an unhealthy attention to military tactics and gruesome detail that can only have come from memories of a previous life.
I wasn't particularly academically inclined, although I could be relied upon to stage a melodramatic end-of-term play based on an old horror movie with myself cast as the mad doctor/monster and my friends as the hapless victims. And I was often in trouble for trying to incite my chums to go on strike under the pretext that convicted criminals were not incarcerated for as long as we were. I always considered myself to being held against my will in the educational system.
I amused myself on occasion by pretending to be dying of an incurable illness which gave me the perfect excuse for having fits during lessons that I didn't like or attacking the school bully, who was prevented from fighting back due to my affliction. Thankfully, none of the teachers had heard of Black Snake Swamp Fever, which I claimed to have caught off an uncle in Africa, so I could vary the symptoms at my whim.
I think Dr Twist and his staff were as happy to see me leave at the age of 16 as I was to go. Needless to say I was miraculously ‘cured’ of Black Snake Swamp Fever the day I left their establishment.

I would like to boast of having spent my childhood reading and dreaming of wondrous worlds, but to be honest I was too impatient to sit and read. Instead I would spend the school holidays racing around the grounds of our crumbling old house on my bike scaring the wits out of the servants and any tradesmen foolish enough to risk life and limb to enter Roland Towers. In the evenings I would put on shows for nanny and my tutors who applauded politely after each song or magic trick. I don't know if their appreciation was genuine or if it was because they feared what might happen if they didn't. You see, my other childhood obsession was magic…and I don't mean the kind where the conjuror pulls a rabbit out of a hat. I wanted to conjure up surprises that were neither fluffy nor friendly. Ever since my first out-of-body experience at the age of 5 or 6 I was obsessed with the occult and what lay beyond the physical world of our senses, a gift I inherited from my mother's side of the family, several of whom were psychic. At night I would practice leaving my body and exploring the astral world. At other times I would attempt to make the lights go out in neighbour's houses or invoke elementals (creatures of the lower worlds) or create thought forms - an indulgence which came to an abrupt end when I came to my senses one night to find the room crawling with insects that I had created! Unfortunately, it was not as easy to walk away from magic as it had been to walk into it. It was 1974 and the time of the ‘Exorcist’. I happened to watch a documentary on demonic possession one afternoon and being the imaginative kid that I was I became convinced that I was possessed by the devil - which made life at school even more lively than it had been before. Fortunately my father happened to know a real magician (as he had been on a spiritual search of his own) and he convinced me that such things are not possible. Thereafter I left the occult alone until I was old enough to know how to handle my abilities and then I allied myself firmly on the side of the angels. (If you want to know more, the rest of this story can be found in ‘Investigating The Unexplained’ published by Piatkus)
And then I discovered something which offered a healthy distraction - music.
Marc Bolan loomed large in my world all through my teens not only because of his extraordinary voice, but also because his early music evoked a fanciful world with magical overtones. I didn't have time for anybody else until I started making my own records then I opened up to other influences and found my own style.
At the age of 14 I bought my first guitar and started writing songs as soon as I had learnt my first three chords. At 19 I recorded my first single and a few months later my first album.
And now, after an absence of 7 years, I'm tempted to return to music - if only to get it right this time!
Paul