In William's working
life there were two distinct phases- Royal Navy and post-Royal Navy - both roughly equal in time terms
around twenty-two years each.
He joined the Fleet Air Arm (a branch of the Royal Navy) as an Artificer Apprentice and left as a
Lieutenant A/E (Aircraft Engineer Officer). As well as working
hard while in the RN he took advantage of all sports
opportunities. His hobbies included golf; squash; competitive grass
hockey; am-dram and SCUBA diving.
also flew on every available opportunity, sometimes over long distances
in small military jets, and travelled the world occasionally in large
aircraft carriers. Later, he qualified as a Ship's Diving Officer - a
fact that is inextricably connected to Over By Christmas.
Throughout his time in the Fleet Air Arm he developed an urge to be
an actor and/or a writer. But as he later held a Queen's commission in
the navy - a binding contract from which he could not simply walk away
- his aspiration to act professionally had to be more of a desire than an option.
writing he could do anywhere - and he did: enjoying it whenever possible.
Having completed several creative writing correspondence courses (an excellent
pastime while off duty at sea) he was ready to submit his first film script when
he left the navy in 1971.
However, he had a very practical bank manager at the time who
out the "hit-and-miss" nature
of writing and, in doing so, managed to torpedo William's hopes to
become a writer for the second part of his life.
So instead of writing he joined IBM OP Sales in London, but
was head-hunted a year later by Commercial Metals Ltd. (futures metal
traders on the London Metal Exchange). He joined them as the UK Sales
Manager but left after 6 months
(still feeling unsettled in 'Civvy-Street' after all the excitement
of the navy). He then joined a
major life assurance company in London as a salesman and progressed to Branch Manager.
He spent eleven years managing branches of several life companies then finally became an Independent
Financial Adviser before semi-retiring in 2000.
Still playing hockey after leaving the navy, he played for the Wimbledon Hockey Club , he
also played squash and continued to enjoy skiing holidays.
carried on sub-aqua diving for several years and dived on the Mary Rose
site when it was first discovered. He also took part in other diving expeditions in the
Scilly Isles and Channel Isles. The last dive he had was with his
children in Turkey, in 1999.
Along the way and at some personal expense, he spent 2 years inventing
and bringing to the market a new kitchen tool that a large interested
company predicted would be a winner that would make him very rich. But it wasn't;
and he's not.
Instead, William now spends his time computer-fiddling (mostly
graphics & video) and,
of course, writing. He took a Guildford University
Creative Writing course and wrote some articles for technical magazines
and had a small collection of short stories published on
line at Authors Online,
He resorts to DIY when cornered, but much prefers to write.
A NOTEWORTHY EVENT
that stick in William's mind come from several different areas of his RN
service - flying, diving and the events leading up to his M.B.E.
However, the most relevant one to Over By Christmas came from
diving. When William was the Diving Officer of the shore base HMS CONDOR
in Scotland, he also founded and led the ship's Sub Aqua Club. They
dived on a number of wrecks in Scottish waters. On one such expedition,
they found the two huge propellers (each weighing 14.5 tons) of HMS
ARGYLL, a battle-cruiser that ran aground on the Bell Rock during
WW1. Many years later, while carrying out research for Over By Christmas,
William unearthed the true story of how ARGYLL mysteriously came to be on the rock, and the
drama that unfolded inside the lighthouse that night. He published a short story about
this little piece of history on the highly recommended web site at
William's story, The Death of HMS ARGYLL, is on this
page of the site
The dramatic demise of the ship is also featured in Over By Christmas.