I was born and brought up in the town of Swindon, Wiltshire, England, where I still live, more than 46 years later. I am at least a seventh-generation Swindonian and am proud of my (albeit humble) family origins and my honest, working class home town. My late father was a fireman/ambulance driver with British Railways at the Swindon Railway Works, which also employed both my grandfathers - one as a labourer, the other as a boilermaker.
For more than the last 20 years I've been married to Julie, and we have two children - Sean and Holly, who are now both teenagers - plus two cats - Daisy and Elvis - or three if you count Napoleon, a stray who now visits us every day.
I work as a freelance journalist/sub-editor and this currently includes writing a weekly column for the Swindon Advertiser called Roaring Forties - which is meant to reflect what it's like to live "on the wrong side of 40". Most of my career has been connected with the Swindon Advertiser, although I've also done a little bit of freelance subbing for the Reading Evening Post, some magazine stuff for the BBC, prospectuses for the University of Bath, various other bits and pieces including PR and simple websites, but I'm happiest working within the good old newspaper business. My best work was the Chronicle of Swindon, published in 2006, which traced the town's history in 200 tabloid pages (eight pages a week for six months) of which I did 99 per cent of the research, writing and editing. I also once contributed a chapter to a proper football book called The Cult of the Manager.
My main interests are history (especially local and family history), art (I draw a bit), reading (almost always non-fiction) and music (including playing the drums which I took up when I was about 40). But I also take an interest in lots of other things, including sport (especially football, although I'm too old to play anything but tennis), architecture and lots of other things too numerous or too personal to mention. I hate the word 'hate', but I genuinely do hate Margaret Thatcher, mushrooms, the so-called 'celebrity' culture we have to live in, Big Brother and EastEnders, racism, snobbery, the short-sightedness and small-mindedness of local government and, of course, rap music. On the other hand, even these abominations are more than made up for by The Beatles, Al Stewart, Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys, bangers and mash and curry (though not on the same plate), frost and snow, Bill Bryson, NASA, Michael Palin, National Geographic, QI, plain chocolate, cats, Christmas, cathedrals (even though I'm an atheist), Parma Violets, Stephen Fry, Time Team, Austin A30s/A35s, drummer Dom Famularo, Ordnance Survey maps, satnav, iPods, iMacs, contact lenses, fridges that dispense ice, the smell of Play-Doh, Swindon Town (when they're winning), museums, Amsterdam, real ale, real cider, Quark XPress, Adobe Photoshop, the internet, Rolf Harris, Fawlty Towers, The Sixth Sense, The Muppet Christmas Carol, lime and chilli chutney, Thunderbirds, daleks, all things Indian, flying, English canals and Phoenix Nights.
Other interesting points about me include: I am a twin (my twin brother is called Brian); my wife and my twin brother's wife were born on the very same day (as each other, but not the same day as us); I'm colour-blind; I've run four marathons (including two London Marathons); I once jumped out of a plane; I have met and interviewed (or at least questioned) various famous people, including Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Stanley Matthews, Sir Henry Cooper and a former member of The Beatles (Pete Best, the drummer before Ringo); I've set foot on four different continents - Europe, America, Australasia and (very briefly) Asia; and I've travelled as far north as Edinburgh, as far west as Florida, and as far east and south as Australia. What's the best place I've visited? Australia (no contest).
This blog is about my continuing career as a human being in a very big world and the impact it is having on me - and, to a much lesser extent, the impact I have on it.
If you want to email me about anything, including comments about this site, click here
But before you do that, please note that in an attempt to stop people getting hold of my address and sending me spam, I've come up with a cunning plan to throw them off the scent.
When the address comes up, replace 'dummy' with my initials before sending.
In other words, my address is really: