Sussex-based Manhattan Furniture were my first major PR client. I helped set up some branded literature for them – including their ‘history of a company’. I also had the idea for a PR/marketing exercise called the ‘200-meal service’, which actually enhanced the product’s appeal. Sixty days after installation, an engineer would call to make any tweaks or adjustments and carry out minor repair work. In addition, I wrote press releases and assisted with the setting up of trade displays.
I’ve interviewed Bryn Haworth a few times over the years. He’s known as a ‘musician’s musician’, who has played sessions on numerous rock and pop albums of the 70s for big names like Joan Armatrading, Gerry Rafferty and Gallagher & Lyle. He’s also recorded his own albums, notably ‘Sunny Side Of The Street’, ‘Grand Arrival’ and ‘The Gap’. This particular article from 1999 was about his own reworkings of some popular hymns.
During the making of the movie ‘Prince Caspian’, I was asked to interview some of the key people involved in the production – including actor Ben Barnes, producer Mark Johnson and C S Lewis’ stepson Douglas Gresham.
Not long after The Eden Project was opened, I took my family there to suss it out. At the same time we enjoyed other delights of Cornwall. I wrote up the piece as a travel feature.
I’d heard that one of my favourite poets Roger McGough had written his first Bible-based storybook for children, ”Daniel And The Beast Of Babylon’. So his publisher Lion Children’s Books arranged an interview for me. It was such an honour to chat with this bloke, who had provided much of the poetic soundtrack for my adolescence. And it was a great feature to have for Father’s Day.
Just after the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, I took my family on a little holiday tour around Ireland, both north and south of the border. Those were the days when ‘Ballykissangel’ was on the telly, so of course we had to visit Avoca, where it was made. I wrote up our experiences into a travel feature.
When Moya Brennan launched her album ‘Signature’ with a showcase gig in London, the ‘Irish Post’ newspaper commissioned me to review it. That was a major milestone on my own amazing journey into Celtic music.
My first journalistic venture into Northern Ireland took place in 1997. My friend Paul Reid arranged a number of interviews with key people around Belfast, and he served as my driver for the few days I was there. Out of that one trip came a few magazine articles – including this one.
Britain’s most unlikely sex symbol was in town. And I got the chance to interview Kathy Staff, the actress who played the legendary Nora Batty in ‘The Last Of The Summer Wine’. Kathy was both blunt and entertaining in her interviews. Sadly, she passed away recently, but she’ll always be remembered with much fondness.
I arranged an interview with Canon Andrew White, who’s become known as the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’. He told me to meet him at his club in London. I turned up and he wanted to chat outside in the sunshine. There was no power for my minidisc recorder, so I had to use batteries which all decided to keep running out! Canon White joked about my use of Tesco batteries. But we got through the interview in the end. These things happen.
David and Carrie Grant are probably the UK’s best known pop vocal coaches – with a client list that includes Take That, The Spice Girls, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlotte Church, The Saturdays, Modestep, Lemar, Will Young and numerous others – along with appearances on ‘Pop Idol’ and ‘Fame Academy’. I had the privilege of interviewing them at their home, and finding out about their family life. We used the article as a cover story for ‘Families Together’ magazine.
A few friends of mine had strongly encouraged me to listen to Julie Fowlis, a Scottish woman who sings in the old Gaelic. Then I got the chance to interview her! We spoke on the phone, and she was absolutely charming. Then she invited me and my wife to one of her gigs. It was a great show. My article about Julie appeared in ‘Irish Music’ magazine.