New Things



The Umbrella Tree is the first children's story I wrote.  It was 1995.  

I have spent the last 28 years dedicating my life to visiting primary schools.  I have now visited over 3000 in the UK and beyond. As far as I know, no other children's author has been to as many as me – or wants to.

Over all this time, I have continued to tell The Umbrella Tree to the Nursery, Reception, Y1 and Y2.  It has continued to grow and change but now, I think it is finally perfect.  By publishing it myself, I get to make just how it should be.

I have found an amazing new illustrator called Christie Felton.  Christie has just graduated from St Martin's College in London and deserves a good start to her career.  The illustrations are stunning and the book is ready to go.

For the last couple of months we have been running a kickstarter campaign and thanks to the generosity of a lot of people, we are now about to send the book to print.

You can order your copy in the bookshop page of this website.


So on Wednesday the 24th of May, we went to the Sunday Times Sports Book Awards cos The Funny Life of Football had been shortlisted.

ME: Where is it?

THEM: Oval.

ME: I don't care what shape it is.  What's the location?

THEM: Oval.  In London.

ME: Oh.  Whereabouts in Oval?


ME: Oh.  What shape is it?

And so soon we were standing on the roof of The Oval Cricket Place wishing they had some sort of terrace.  After an hour of tottering from one tile to another we thankfully descended to the Humphrey Bogart Memorial Function Room where we were treated to strange foods and a hosting by Mark Pougatch (real name).  Soon it was the turn of our award and Rob Jones and I sat there, confident we had NOT won.

And then they read out our names and we had won.  I did a speech.  Then there was more of that sort of thing.  Sadly, Gary Lineker couldn't make it and Marcus Rashford had to stay in and sit with his Nan but we made new friends anyway.

I had a nice chat with someone called Martin O'Neill.  He really likes football so I told him everything I knew about the subject and then made my excuses.

I have no idea what this award actually means but it's a real thing and it's made of really thick glass.


Almost every Thursday afternoon at 3.45pm, I hang around in Woodbridge Library in Suffolk and read random books from the shelves to any children who fancy listening.  

We thought it would be nice if there was a story time for school-aged children you see.

It's free.  It's warm.  There's tea and coffee.  And books.  Lots and lots of lovely books.

This Thursday: the 16th of March I'm going to start off by reading James the Red Engine.

I wonder what else will get read!

There's no need to book.  Just come along and find a bit of carpet.

My latest book is called The Funny Life of Football.  It's published by the nice folk at Bloomsbury and is illustrated by the fabulously talented Rob Jones.  You can buy copies at all the places you usually buy books or you can buy a signed copy directly from this website.

The Funny Life of Football was an interesting book to write in that it wasn't my idea at all.  There are loads of football books out there, aren't there?  There's football this and football that but what makes this book different is that it is written by someone who KNOWS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT FOOTBALL.

Not only did I write this without really knowing what I was doing, I had to write the thing during the covid-19 lockdown so I was only able to do one hour a day (whilst my children were asleep).  Despite all this, I managed to get it done and I now think it's one my favourite books!

The Funny Life of Football does indeed cover things like the world cup and whether Ronaldo is better than Messi but REALLY it's about YOU.  It's about normal children playing football in the garden.  Playing football in the street; and in the playground at school.

Here is a video of me reading one of my favourite pages:


Just to let you know that our weekly writing classes / club for Teenagers starts a new term on the 11th of January.

Classes run every Wednesday at 7pm

They last an hour

They are on Zoom

They cost £6.50 each

Your first one is for free if you want to try it out.

When I say teens, the class is suitable for anyone between 11 and 16.

The class is taught / wrangled by me and my friend Ebone Mouton who is also a writer.  People in the class are encouraged to be working on a big piece of writing throughout the term.  This can be a story, a book, a play, an epic saga, a script for a computer game, anything really.

Each week all do various writing prompts to get us started and thinking and also support each other to keep on going with our works in progress.

This class started in lockdown and seems to just keep on going.

Let me know if you'd like more information.