Saturday 10 January 2009

16 Things

I’ve never really got to grips with memes and tags, but Ali Karim has asked me (along with various others, including Mike Stotter of Shots Magazine), to highlight 16 little-known facts about myself. I would normally be desperate to come up with some excuse to avoid doing this, but Ali is such a great guy - and I do already owe him a pint or three - that I’m glad to oblige. But then, the awful challenge is to come up with 16 morsels of info that do not immediately characterise me as Britan’s Boringest Blogger. How interesting these bits and pieces are, I’m dubious, but here goes.

1. I was born in Knutsford, the Cheshire town which was the basis for Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, and to this day the law firm I’m a partner in has an office in the town.

2. The first time I wrote about crime fiction, I was seven years old. I recorded in my school book that I’d enjoyed an episode of ’77 Sunset Strip’ called ‘The Chrome Coffin.’ The teacher needed to correct my spelling of ‘chrome’, though.

3. A Team for all Seasons is the title of the book written by my father about the local football club of which he was a passionate supporter and ultimately President. It took him ten years to write and was published shortly before his death. It ran to over 400 pages. Quite an achievement for someone who left school at 14 and had little formal education. He consulted me regularly about his writing, but routinely disregarded my advice – and the book was all the better for it.

4. After I left school, I had what is now known as a ‘gap year’. I spent three months unemployed (it was the era of the miners’ strike, daily power cuts and the three day working week) and then six months working in a factory that made yogurt. Surely this was the least exciting gap year ever. But it certainly made me appreciate university.

5. Balliol, the Oxford college where I studied law, was also the college of those great fictional detectives Lord Peter Wimsey and John Dickson Carr’s Dr Gideon Fell.

6. I saw the Beatles in person when I was about eight years old and many years later carried out legal work for the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where they were discovered.

7. My first book was published in 1983 and rejoiced in the title of Understanding Computer Contracts. Racy, huh?

8. Three years after that, I published a book called Managing Redundancies. Unfortunately, it has again become a very topical subject. In recent years, my book on equal opportunities has reached its fourth edition.

9. Magazines I’ve written for include such action-packed titles as Car Mechanics (though I barely know how to open my car's bonnet), Practical Woodworker (there is nobody less practical than me), and Good Housekeeping (I'm deplorably untidy). I was legal correspondent for those legendary publications Social Services Insight and The Expatiate at different times, and spent 18 months writing leader articles for The Solicitors Journal - an excellent opportunity to pontificate on anything that appealed to me (a bit like blogging!)

10. My first fiction success was with a short story that won the Southport Writers’ annual competition, judged by the fiction editor of Bella, a women’s magazine which duly published it. It later appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. After that, there was no stopping me….

11. My methods of coping with stress are listening to music and, less obviously, shopping (but not in a supermarket.)

12. I once gave a lecture to a group of international lawyers in the unlikely setting of the Salzburg castle where much of ‘The Sound of Music’ was filmed.

13. My favourite sport is cricket, but currently my clients at work include Liverpool Football Club and the Football Association.

14. Although I tend to take the Edith Piaf line on regrets, I do regret never learning to play the piano. But when I was a student, a song I’d co-written was recorded on an album by an Italian musician and I was featured in the pop column of ‘The Oxford Mail’. (Someone currently selling the album on eBay describes it as ‘unusual’….) One of my neighbours now is Ian Brown, a rock musician formerly of the Stone Roses, but I have not been brave enough to tell Ian about my past life as a songwriter.

15. The first pop music concert I attended was by Dionne Warwick, in 1976, and the most recent was by…Dionne Warwick, last year.

16. A phrase that crops up several times in my novels is: ‘Life is short’. Something I strongly believe.


Jilly said...

Interesting facts and like you I've never really got to grips with memes and tags. I tend to restrict myself to those that catch my imagination.

Linda L. Richards said...

Good stuff! Though it looks like we went to different schools together. Racy title of my first book? The Canadian Business Guide to Using the Internet (1995).

Ali Karim said...

Good stuff, and The Beatles indeed!

Thanks for the insight


Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for the comments. And hi, Linda, that's quite a coincidence!

BooksPlease said...

I was born in Timperley and one of my best friends at school lived in Knutsford. Our friendship ended when a new school was opened in Knutsford, but I have very fond memories of May Day when I stayed with her.

And life is too short!

Martin Edwards said...

Gosh, it is a small world. Today (while engaged on more retail therapy) I bumped into a former colleague who now lives in Timperley. As for Knutsford May Day, it featured vividly in my childhood, and briefly in my second novel, Suspicious Minds.

Sunnie Gill said...

Martin, you have just impressed my husband (who doesn't read crime fiction) no end by stating you do legal work for the Liverpool Football Club.

Anything Liverpool FC related really gets his attention.

PS. Don't spose you can do anything about the playing times over there. They translate to Ungodly hours down here in oz. It's so much fun to have the telly in the bedroom turned on at 3.30am.

Peter Rozovsky said...

" but currently my clients at work include Liverpool Football Club"

I see that your clients missed a chance to move closer to wrapping up the Premiereship. I have one colleague who loves Chelsea, an ex-colleague who roots passionately for Arsenal, and a friend who likes your clients' local rival Everton. I wish success to all, but if it means larger fees for you, I am happy to root for Liverpool as well.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Sunnie and Peter - one of the things that fascinates me is the way in which Premier League football attracts not just interest, but real enthusiasm, seemingly all around the world.

Anonymous said...

And Martin, let's not forget your Kogan Page tome "How to Get the Best Deal from your Employer - A Practical Guide for Executives", the second edition of which still resides on my desk at home from the time I emailed you to tell you that I owned it. Clearly I am more untidy than you are and I might do well in changing my subscription from Woman and Home mag (an age definer, if ever there was one) to Good Housekeeping...

A couple of questions though - and you know my line of work, so please excuse the pedantry here on Q1- you've accounted for only 9 mths of your "gap year", what happened with the remaining 3 mths? And finally, did the 6 mths in yoghurt leave you with a hate of the product or a love of it? Just curious...

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Crimeficreader! Yogurt - oddly, I developed an enthusiasm for it while working in the factory. Mainly because it was free and plentiful and I was trying to save money for student life.
The solution to the gap year mystery is, alas, less than riveting. I spent the first few weeks of the year staying on at school to prepare for the Oxford entrance exam, and the last few weeks of it watching cricket and reading up about criminal law in advance of my first term at uni. Suffice to say, that criminal law reading has never proved of any relevance to my novels!

Peter Rozovsky said...

Premier League Football is not the only sport that attracts a surprising following in America. The colleague at the desk to my right at work is from India, and he had his cricket bats at work with him one day.

I ate lots of yogurt as a youth. I should resume that salubrious habit.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Martin Edwards said...

I can imagine, Peter. India is now the world's power-house as far as cricket is concerned. It's the number one sport there, with tremendous support, and I'd love to watch a game there one day. I only wish I'd been a better player myself!