FIONA SCOTT finds out what inspired a grandfather to sit down and write his life story in retirement
GRANDFather Neil Hall has embraced his retirement by starting on a new career as an author, following in the footsteps of his sons.
Neil, 67, who lives with his wife Lucinda near Marlborough, has just published An English Baby Boomer – My Life And Times.
A project ten years in the making, Neil has just fulfilled his dream of publishing his life story.
This new turn in his life is hardly surprising as Neil sits at the heart of a family which is extremely creative.
His wife Lucinda, who originally comes from Massachusetts, came over to the UK for a gap year which has turned into 50 years.
The couple met through a mutual friend and married in January 1969.
The story of their meeting, their growing love and their married life is, unsurprisingly, a central theme in Neil’s life story.
“The book came about as I did have a desire to write about my life,” he said.
“As I say in my book this is not the first time I have adopted the role of scribbler. On a number of occasions, faced with unusual or interesting experiences, I have felt compelled to put pen to paper.”
But writing was not the major theme of Neil’s professional life until recently.
When he retired in 2012, he was a financial advisor for wealth management company St James’ Place based in Cirencester. He’d worked with the company for 16 years but was in the financial services industry for 27 years in total.
Daily though he was drawing inspiration from the lives and experiences of his two sons, Tarquin and Alexander, and the support of his wife Lucinda.
Alexander, who is 42, lives near Los Angeles and has a successful career in the film and television industry. He went to Hollywood in 1991 to work at Steven Spielberg’s company, Amblin Entertainment.
While there he made a short film, The Magic Bag, which won Gold and Film of the Festival at the Festival of Nations, Ebensee, Austria in 1993. He’s written many screenplays with one project, The Tunnel, coming second in the action category of Fade In Magazine’s Annual Screenplay Contest 2007, which is Hollywood’s premier screenplay writers’ journal.
He’s also worked on the television show House, starring Hugh Laurie, for six years as a member of the production crew.
Currently, he’s raising finance to film his screenplay The Tunnel and is completing his first sci-fi novel.
His older brother, Tarquin, has enjoyed an equally illustrious career.
Tarquin, now 45, lives in New Delhi with his wife and children. A journalist by trade, he’s also written seven books.
He’s particularly known for his crime mystery series starring Vish Puri, ‘India’s most private investigator’. These include The Case of the Missing Servant and The Case of the Love Commandos.
His non-fiction books have also received acclaim including To The Elephant Graveyard, a true story of a hunt for a man-killing elephant.
Another work, Salaam Brick Lane, tells his journey of discovering living in London’s Brick Lane and discovering the diversity and struggles of the people who live there.
As Tarquin’s writing began to take shape, his mum Lucinda stepped forward to help.
Tarquin, who was working in Africa on journalist assignments, was finding it difficult to market his fiction books and sell some of his investigative stories.
So Lucinda created an agency to help him and other budding writers – Sophie Reed Associates – named after her grandmother.
Very quickly she negotiated deals with editors to publish some of Tarquin’s most powerful stories.
These included that of Emma McCune, who had married Riek Machar, the chief eastern military commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. The exclusive was published in the Mail on Sunday.
Tarquin and Alexander, backed up by the entrepreneurial efforts of mum Lucinda, all inspired Neil to slowly put together the story of his own life which has been varied and colourful.
Neil said: “This is a story set against a time of extraordinary technological, political and social change.”
Neil was born in Durban on March 15, 1947.
His father Philip was a school master and ex-naval officer and his mother Ann was the daughter of a colonel. Neil spent much time moving from school to school, several overseas, and his upbringing was a strict one.
“We moved in circles where children were seen and not heard.
“I was expected to wash my hands and comb my hair before sitting down at the table for meals, and these could be an ordeal if I did not mind my manners, hold my knife and fork in the correct manner and sit bolt upright in my chair.
“I was not allowed to leave the table at the end of the meal without permission, and could leave only when there was not a morsel left on my plate.”
In 1961, Neil spent some time at Marlborough College. His time at the school was not always happy but during that period he developed a great love of the county he would return to in later years.
Over the coming months, Neil and Lucinda will be travelling the county and further afield for booking signings and talks.
- Baby boomers is a general phrase often associated with people who were born between 1946 and 1964.
- It’s often said these children were of a generation that was fitter and wealthier than previous generations.
- They were also, some say, a generation ready to embrace change and expecting implicitly that the world would improve over future years.
- Neil’s book is available now as an e-book and hard copies will soon be available – www.anenglishbabyboomer.co.uk
- For details of Tarquin’s books visit www.tarquinhall.com