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Notebook

About Me

In writing this work of fiction, I have drawn on both my social housing career, supporting vulnerable families and their children; as well as my childhood as a shy boy growing up in the 1960s.  Worked in London during the ‘70s, with Shelter - the National Homeless Charity at their Housing Aid Centre (SHAC), before a career within the Housing Association movement.

Organised as part of my four-year BA Housing Degree at Sheffield Polytechnic, UK; found myself on a 12-month work placement in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, working for the public housing authority on their subsidised housing developments —  the downtown housing projects. 

Neighbourhoods with low property values, little economic equality and development; yet providing social housing for minority groups including low-income families struggling to cope with the everyday. Rampant crime, domestic violence, shootings, fatal stabbings, alcohol and drug abuse are all just a part of  ‘how life is on the projects.’  And in the U.K. too, schools are increasingly overshadowed by the gang culture and seem, along with parents or guardians, unable to provide a safe haven for their children as they grow up - particularly the excluded; either the quiet, withdrawn, possibly shy kid or the so-called “problem child”, irrespective of class or family background.   A subject the story returns to in book two, “The Beginning of the End.”

This USA visit turned into an unexpected 40-year marriage to Denise, three children and a return to the UK from 1986.  Full-time Carer for mum from 2002 until 2018, aged 101+.  Lost our daughter, Steph, to a New York taxicab in 2008.  Volunteer support for local primary school and London based charity helping children and young adults with creative writing, storytelling, poems by heart and  performance poetry as well as support as they produced their own publications: Poems Are Lovely and Poetry Anthology. 

I’m not a writer by trade, far from it.  I was encouraged to share a few simple poems with a wider audience, in the hope of being able to help others.  I’m not actually comfortable calling my work poetry for obvious reasons.  I much prefer the term: words on a page.  I have read so many wonderful poems over the years, quite apart from all those great ones I have endeavoured to learn by heart. 

Shy is a quick read and comes from one who now knows (but didn’t then) that I was clinically depressed from childhood through into my late twenties.  Not that my depression didn't ever completely go away, impacting on my life and my relationships with others. And now, ‘age cannot wither nor custom stale my infinite variety.’  At the very end of the story, I share “Privilege” taken from The Miracle of Life for all those who’ve lost a loved one.

 

Random facts about me:

  • Born in Wimbledon, raised in the Home Counties

  • Left school at 16 years old without a single “O” level to pursue his beloved football and then, when that golden chance to get his break into professional football arose, via a trial with Crystal Palace ... decided there was more to life than football and didn't turn up!

  • Spent nine years working for his father helping to run a village shop as his dad developed engineering inventions “out the back” and set up the company Eurovend.  Later Tony travelled across Europe as a sales rep, learning enough German on his own to support the company’s main customer base

  • Upon his return to UK, and despite no previous social housing training, at the age of 25 successfully set-up a government approved registered Housing Association, providing housing for commonwealth students and their families in east London. 

  • Looking for the University experience he missed out on after Grammar School Tony took evening classes as a mature student, achieving A-grades in O and A levels followed by a BA degree in Housing at Sheffield Polytechnic and a Housing Management Award with Distinction for his work in the USA.

  • Drawing on his many years of ‘made-up bedtime stories for his three children’ and writing words on a page, Tony continued his professional work in social housing.  Found himself at 56 having just lost his father, but now caring for his mother full-time from 2002 before losing his daughter Steph in 2008.  Thrown back into the clinical depression he suffered from as a younger man, Tony, with the help of a loving family and a clinical psychologist he can never thank enough, found himself with the help of creative writing able to move forward as he volunteered at the now defunct Kids’ Company in London and his local primary school in Hampshire.  Some of the tools and techniques used to help school-aged kids develop their own creative writing, love of poetry and poetry performance are shared in this website. 

  • Tony’s  30+ years of experience working primarily for Housing Associations in the UK, but also with and for a private sector housing management company and various statutory authorities including: The Housing Corporation; The Home Office; Central and Local Governments; Voluntary Agencies and The Charity Sector.

  • A social and private sector housing career that provided a rich source of material for the red tape, bureaucracy and petty small mindedness found in Shy.

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