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Cancer in class: read my article in today's "Times"

Updated: Jan 1


“And what do you do..?”    

What do I do? Tricky one that, at parties; not that I get invited to parties. My preferred title would be “writer”; but then people usually pull a face.

“A – waiter? A rater?”

The trouble is if I say “author” people think that’s all I do; and when I’m approaching newspaper editors they don’t particularly care that I’ve had novels published – can I write features? If I say “journalist” then I’m usually thrown out of the (non-existent) party, or at least checked for listening devices.

Most of the time I say author and journalist, but sometimes vice versa; after all I’ve only been a published author for three years and writing for the papers for almost twenty-five.

Journalism often a bad press (pun intended) and particularly at the moment; nevertheless when I get a piece published I get a real buzz, almost as great as seeing my books on the shelf (but not quite). When you write about something that you feel is important and it gets published you might not change the world, but hopefully you can help people change their mind, or at least provide them with the information they need to make up their mind.

Coming from Hebden Bridge I’ve long been aware that asbestos is a deadly material; but even I was shocked when I discovered the full extent of the problem of asbestos in Britain’s schools researching my article in today’s “Times”.

As part of my research I went to the Commons, met some truly inspirational campaigners, spoke to unions, teachers, school-keepers, solicitors and medical experts, and met two women with mesothelioma, who I would like to thank for helping me get this piece published and maybe encourage politicians to start taking the issue seriously.

So am I a journalist who writes the odd book, or an author who occasionally writes for the newspapers? I’m a writer. I write. Which involves both rating and waiting.

Maybe I should just learn to speak proper....

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