Hi, my name is Andrew Weston. I’m an author living in a cupboard under the stairs…? Sorry, the darn medication must be off again. Truthfully? I like to spend my time fishing for dreams among the stars. I haven’t caught anything yet, so perhaps it’s time to change my bait?
Anyhow, as some of my readers will be aware, before turning my hand to writing, I experienced life’s rich tapestry as a specialist in the military, and later, as a police officer in a number of varied roles. Looking back over the years, I thought it might be fun to reveal my “Top Ten Memories” (Or, at least, those recollections I’m willing to share – hee hee).
They’re not necessarily in order, as I tried to group them together into little themes, but such experiences made me the person I am now, and in a strange way, have influenced my writing. See what you think…
- The birth of my first child: (Or indeed, all of my children, come to that). A tremendous experience that no father should miss…especially when you’re allowed to assist. A privilege I enjoyed for each of my little gems.
- Delivering a child: And it wasn’t one of my own! I’d only been in the police for several years and after serving in a city environment, moved to a rural station covering hundreds of square miles of forest. That’s when I came across a young couple who had broken down while driving to hospital for their first baby. Back seat of a car – no problem! (To be honest, mother did all the work – father did most of the sweating and pacing up and down, and I merely pretended it was just another day at work). And do you know what; they didn’t name the baby after me?
(Just as well, it was a teeny-tiny girl). All together now, aaaaaah!
- Getting arrested: Seriously. As I progressed through my career, I worked undercover on a number of occasions. During a sting where I’d been placed among a gang of druggie thieves, a number of officers from out of area were brought in to assist in rounding up the dregs of society. They took one look at me and decided I was one of the most unsavory individuals they’d ever seen, and I was the first one they jumped on. Those fur-lined cuffs really pinched. Ah – happy times.
- Throwing myself out of a perfectly good airplane: Not too much to say here as so many other guys in the military have done a similar thing. But the sense of freedom you get on the hill…ah, there’s nothing like it.
- Getting shot: Staying on a military theme. Top tip: not recommended. And while I appreciate the fact you have to expect it when you join the military – and especially in the kind of role in which I served – it’s a bit of a bummer when it actually happens to you for the first time. (A true “protruding bottom lip moment” if ever there was one).
- Discovering I am immune/resistant to the euphoria opiates are supposed to instill: What can I say? I’m one of those quirks of nature. Following a serious injury – mentioned above – and later episodes in my life, I have been hospitalized on a number of occasions. Try what they might…morphine, codeine, tramadol, fentanyl, doctors could find a lot to help. I didn’t get high; it barely reduced the pain; and really, all I took away from the experience was constipation, itchy rashes and bathmat tongue. (No wonder I ended up working undercover on certain departments, eh?)
- My mom, the drug cultivator: See how this continues a pharmaceutical theme? While I was serving in the police, I’d pop home to Birmingham, in the UK, to see how my parents were from time to time. On one occasion, my wife and I arrived late on a Friday evening, and after a meal, went to bed.
So you better understand the setting, you should know my mom owned an antique restoration business and used to live above the premises itself. While this meant she had no front garden – as that was given over to customer parking – she had a rear courtyard, in which she used to grow plants and cuttings she’d collect while out on countryside walks.
So, there I am, Saturday morning, bright and early. I take a cup of tea out into the rear courtyard, sit down, and as I’m raising the cup to my lips, come face to face with one of the healthiest cannabis plants I’ve ever seen.
What the flip-flop?
Managing to swallow a mouthful of tea without choking, I put my mug on the floor, lean forward and actually pinch myself. It can’t be? Yes it is. NO! It can’t be?
I examine it for the umpteenth time, and eventually accept the inevitable truth.
..you little par-tay minx!
So, then I’m thinking…how they hell do I slip this into the conversation naturally?
Anyway, about half an hour later, mom gets up; makes her own tea; dawdles out into the yard, whereupon I join her on the bench and compliment her on her green fingers and say how nice the makeshift garden is looking. I point at one or two shrubs and bushes, and ask her a little bit about them, and gradually work my way toward exhibit ‘A’.
“So, when did you get that particular plant over there?”
“Oh that?” she says, “I was out walking Ben – the dog – up Haldon Woods. He ran off into the undergrowth, and when I went to find him, I spotted a whole load of them in a glade. I liked the shape of the leaves so took a cutting to bring home.”
“You liked the look of the leaves, eh?” I say, wondering where this will go.
“Yes,” mom replies, “I was hoping they’d have flowered by now so I could see what color the petals are.”
I start laughing. She asks me what’s so funny, so I explain, “Well, you’re gonna be out of luck. By now, the leaves would normally be drying and ready for rolling.”
“Eh?” And I’m glad to see she appears genuinely puzzled.
“Mom…how can I put this? People don’t normally grow these for their pretty flowers. They’re more interested in smoking the leaves?”
“Eh?” she mumbles again.
“That’s a cannabis bush.”
“Cannabis. Weed. Ganja. An honest-to-God, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred pounds and go directly to jail, cannabis bush.”
“Don’t be so ****ing stupid,” she spluttered, “It can’t be drugs. They were growing wild in the middle of the forest.”
“In a glade, off the beaten track, right?”
“Yes,” she replies indignantly, “so there’s nothing suspicious about them.”
….How I wish you could have listened in on the conversation….
Long story short? I quickly put her right about the tricks of the trade many drug dealers employ to grow their wares, and ensured the drugs were properly disposed of. (And no sitting round in circles and inhaling deeply was involved)
- Climbing my first mountain: See? I’m still talking about getting high…the connections abound in this top ten 🙂
1983 – Monta Rosa, Switzerland
A truly exhilarating experience and something that gave me the climbing bug.
- Getting naked when I shouldn’t: Intrigued? Well, I had to attend hospital for a follow-up surgery for one of my injuries – this one, to my left shoulder.
Those of you who have also been in a similar position know the score. You go into a little waiting cubicle. You’re told to take off your clothes, place them in a locker, and put on the items laid out for you on a chair. (In this case, hospital slippers and robe) Somewhat Spartan, but what can I say. The NHS is struggling.
When the operating team was ready, a nurse came to get me, and escorted me through to the preparation room.
I walk in there – everyone’s busy preparing for the op – and as they go about their business, one of the surgical staff says, over their shoulder, “Just take off you robe and wait over there.”
I thought…hello? But then I reasoned, well, they obviously know what they’re doing, and they’ve seen it all before.
So I took off my robe and stood there like a peacock, proud and defiant…until one of the nurses turns round, spots I’m naked, and let’s out a yelp of surprise… “Oh my God, where’s your gown?” (You know – the paper-thin tie-up pinafores that shows your butt to the world)
Bemused, I replied, “What gown?”
“The gown in the changing cubicle.”
“There wasn’t any gown in the changing cubicle,” I tried to explain, by now, strategically gesticulating so as to hide my morning glory, “I was told to take off my clothes and put on the stuff placed out on the chair.” Pointing desperately, I made sure to emphasize, “That’s the slippers on my feet and that robe draped over the counter…” Then I added the punchline…”I thought it a bit strange you’d want me to be naked for a shoulder operation?” Ta-dah!
They got me a gown.
We laughed again.
Then they put me out, and I’m sure, talked about it and laughed even more while I was unconscious. Sigh – good times.
- Getting set up on a blind date: Some of you might know the score. Friends phone you up out of the blue and invite you out. You turn up. Several other couples are also “mysteriously” in attendance, along with a cunningly arrange single lady whose been fooled by the lies they’ve told about you. Ha!
Well, I’m actually very glad that happened, as that’s how I met my wife.
And here we are on our wedding day…
See, all you romantics out there…Blind dates can work 😉
(Apologies for the state of the photo – but it’s reproduced from an actual picture)
So, there you go. A Top Ten that’s a little bit different. But, when you think about it, it’s still “author related” as it’s often said – Write What You Know.
Having experienced quite a few things most people never get to see and do – and having had a great deal of fun along the way – I can dip into those various episodes and “relive them” through the pages of my work. When you’re able to add those little details of what a certain episode feels like, sounds like, tastes like, the transformation it creates to your interpretation of the fictional environment adds that depth of perspective that plucks your scene from the page and places it where it belongs: alive and kicking, within the imagination of your reader.
Perhaps you’ve spotted that as you read The IX Series or Heroes in Hell? I do hope so, as it makes the effort I put into my work all the more worthwhile.
Anyway, that’s it for now. Next time? My top ten tips regarding personal grooming and the washing of shaved heads. See you then.
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestsellers, The IX, and Hell Bound, (A novel forming part of Janet Morris’ critically acclaimed Heroes in Hell shared universe). Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with two of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for http://Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
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Publisher: Perseid Press
Andrew P. Weston Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/
The IX Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/