This all started out as a totally selfish act. It was suggested by my wife that I might benefit from writing about my experiences and feelings as a way of clearing my head, a sort of banishing my demons thing – if only it was that easy.
However, once I started writing I did find it easier to be honest with myself regarding my experiences. How I had dealt with them at the time and the inevitable aftermath over the following years. The result of this exercise was a book entitled “From the Corners of a Wounded Mind” (“Corners”).
The book concentrated on the effects that combat has on the mind of a soldier. How we deal with the event at the time and the inevitable aftermath over the following years, in some cases many years after the events themselves.
Written in plain speaking English, it came straight from the heart, and the darkest corners of my mind. It was eventually picked up by a small independent publisher who, after reading it agreed that it was something which needed to be published, and even though the subject material was way outside of what they normally published, they decided to publish it anyway, and I owe them huge thanks for giving me a chance.
That said the book was very well received and had some truly wonderful reviews. It was also very well accepted by the families of soldiers past and present, who believed it answered so many of the questions they had regarding the changes they’d seen in their loved ones on their return from combat.
The book eventually found its way into the hands of John Jeffcock, a former Captain in the Coldstream Guards who was compiling a new book of war poetry entitled `Heroes: 100 Poems from the New Generation of War Poets`. As a result, I had nine of my poems published in this very powerful book. At this point, and as a direct result of “Corners” and a meeting with John Jeffcock I was introduced to Roger Field, a literary agent and another ex-soldier, who loved the book (“Corners”) and took it to Mark Booth at Coronet, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton, who fully agreed. Although he wanted to see much more and this book was the end result.
Written as a collection of short stories, in a combination of prose and verse it covers the period from my early childhood, through my twenty-two years in the British Army, most of it spent with Special Forces, and my return to a sometimes traumatic civilian life.
Although it portrays the people and events that shaped and changed my life, I hope that any soldier who reads it will find some sort of connection with their own. For their loved ones, and those of you who have not been so blessed to serve – or cursed, depending on your perspective – I hope it will provide you with a brief insight into the life and mind of a professional soldier. What makes us the way we are, what drives us on when lesser men would fold, what binds us together like no other brotherhood on earth, what makes us laugh and what scares us shitless.
Although I could fill half a dozen books with events from just my military career, I thought that it was important to include parts of my childhood, as this is where the seeds of what we are, and what we will become, are sown.
Why include poetry? I see your point; it’s a strange medium for someone who has spent most of his life living in a hard, sometimes violent world. For most of us the word poet conjures up images of a flamboyant, somewhat flowery individual, not a battle hardened soldier. However, it’s often said that poetry is the natural voice of both the warrior and the oppressed. So, after reading the book I hope you’ll agree we have it covered on both counts.
Throughout the book, I have tried to share my experiences honestly, and as such all of the incidents portrayed within it are true. Some so dark and painful that I often questioned whether I wanted to remain part of this thing they call the human race. Yes, in the really dark times I even considered that.