The first picture on this page shows me with a 1954 Fordson Major, the first vehicle I ever drove.
At the time we were living on a farm in Radnorshire, which looked a bit like Penllan in The Claude Glass and is the source of my enthusiasm for Wales, hills, castles, birds of prey and How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen by Russell Hoban. Later, we lived for a couple of years on a strawberry farm in Herefordshire. This had a castle of its own and complimentary strawberries, so it can’t have been as postlapsarian as I tend to think. Then we returned to the border.
I spent three years at Royal Holloway College, University of London. A is in its debt.
I tried four or five times to live in London but it didn’t agree with me.
Among other things I have worked as a journalist, a sawmiller, a screenwriter, a contributor to the Rough Guides, a tractor driver, a T-shirt salesman, a Zimbabwean music promoter and a fellow at a couple of universities.
For the past 17 or 18 years I have lived in Breconshire. Firstly, in a remote, inconvenient and entirely beautiful house above the Elan Valley reservoirs in the Cambrian Mountains, where you could see 30 miles from the kitchen window and, being off the mains, had to run a laptop off tractor batteries. Secondly, in the Brecon Beacons, in a house a good bit less romantic but mountainous and boasting electricity. It is here that I have written Konstantin, Addlands and Sarn Helen – the last inspired by the Roman road that crosses Mynydd Illtyd, the hill up the lane. In fact, I have done a lot of work up there too, tramping in circles or sitting on a rock to admire Mynydd Epynt, Pen-y-Fan and the Black Mountains shrinking away towards England.
In the house I have a collie called Wyn, (often) two children called Edwyn and Alice, quite a lot of books and walls clad, among other things, in paintings by Jackie Morris and John Uzzell Edwards. These are a source of pride. It was about ten years ago that John took the photograph of me at the gate of Llanelieu Church, just above Talgarth. I am fond of it; it captures something of my feeling for Welsh churches. I was very fond of John. (He is dead now.) I also have a canvas by the writer Jasper Fforde, showing a scene from Herge’s The Crab With the Golden Claws, which is the best present I have ever received.
Basically, if you are familiar with Russell Hoban’s mid-1970s novels – Turtle Diary or The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, say – I seem to have turned into one of those characters.
If this were a CV, I would say something here about how I like swimming in lakes and walking on mountains and listening to dissonant electronic music and so forth. These things are true. My main passion, though, is anything that might help to mitigate the Climate and Ecological Emergency. I used to think that writing had no role to play in this, but now I have quite the opposite view and run courses* on writing, climate and ecology as often as I can – ideally, with my friend Jay Griffiths.
* see Contact page if you’d like to discuss