Born in the Midlands, educated in Yorkshire, worked in Glasgow as a publisher and journalist, Simon has also lived in Sicily and Cyprus. Now spends most of his time in the Highlands wandering around knocking on doors as an interviewer. Had a collection of poems published in 2014 (A Mask for Grieving & other poems FTRR Press). Simon has also written a biography of Alexander Smith, a forgotten Victorian poet in Glasgow who was among the first to address both sides of the newly-industrialised city.
1. Tell us something significant about yourself:
I lived in Sicily teaching English for a year after Uni.
I became a journalist by writing for Glasgow News, a radical alternative newspaper in the 70s.
I met my late wife in Baillie’s Library, also no longer. We lived in the same flat for 35 years and then moved address 6 times in 6 years.
2. What is your favourite age in life so far and why?
My late 30s when I became a father and felt a sense of joining the human race for the first time.
3. Who is your favourite fictional character over 60?
Last year I read Howard Jacobson’s Live A Little in which nearly all the characters are in their 80s and 90s. Shimi Carmelli – who seems unable to forget – forms a hilarious relationship with Beryl who is losing her memory. Beneath the humour darker questions about identity and self-determination are posed.
4. You are alone in your house (no pets). You have three minutes to get out before the house collapses and burns to the ground. What one possession would you grab and take with you?
My recently-purchased walking boots (I was not planning to buy another pair).
5. What’s your favourite creative pastime or place?
Writing feels great but only after I’m finished. These days I look forward to practical painting (woodwork, stone walls and fences). I enjoy seeing completed work in the public eye.
6. Tell us something about yourself that’s surprising or unexpected.
I’ve only ever been for a handful of job interviews. The best was for The Scotsman Literary Editor. I had just spent a few drenching days walking and camping the Pennines. On my way home via Waverley station I crept in to the office to check with features that my freelance article had been received. I was surprised to discover Ian Bell had just walked out. Wreathed in steam and wearing heathery boots I was offered the job part-time.
7. Tell us three ways that you are still learning:
By listening more carefully: we all hear mainly what we want to hear.
By developing more practical skills – particularly constructing things.
Maybe a new language?