Tell us about yourself:
I was born into a deep-sea trawling fishing family in Grimsby, Lincolnshire and into a life of wild extremes of fortune. My name is Ian Hutson and I am an Englishman (most emphatically not “British” and not some “citizen” of the United Kingdom).
My late father re-invented himself from new-fangled radio-operator on trawlers into working for the Ministry of Defense during the Cold War, listening in to mainland Chinese and Soviet radio traffic, then into an expert in electronic espionage and warfare, and then into a published Naval Historian. My late mother, depending on the prevailing family fortunes, alternately worked in factories, led a life of leisure, socialized in Hong Kong nightclubs and casinos, or even ran our croft in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. We moved family home every two to three years – I used to think that we were “on the run”.
Like most other Englishmen I am not the dribbling, thuggish, right-wing, rabid, loud, football (“soccer”) hooligan portrayed by our own national tabloid newspapers and electronic media. I’m just a chap who loves the gentle spectacle of a game of cricket on the village green (yes they do happen quite often, although I have no idea of the rules and I never play). I do apologise constantly – mostly for our boorish, thieving, lying, shameless politicians. I do think that cucumber (sliced thinly and in white-bread sandwiches), strawberries (fresh from the field, still warm from the sun) and a decent apple (a Russet or a Cox’s Orange Pippin) represent the food of the gods. I won’t apologise for the “British” Empire, since morality and sensibilities were very different in those different times and if it hadn’t been us then it would have been the Portuguese or the Spanish or – no, that’s about the end of the plausible options list.
I was a sniveling, physically sickly little spoiled brat of an un-planned child and remain to this day shocked to my core that my parents must therefore still have been engaging in gratuitous sex in their thirties. I initially spoke only Cantonese, then Cantonese and a little pidgin English, then English and no Cantonese. I couldn’t read or write at all until the age of nine when a phenomenal teacher at the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, one Miss Crichton, taught me the trick and I haven’t stopped since. Thank you, Miss Crichton!
Over the decades I have worked in the Civil Service (ugh!), for corporations such as IBM, ITSA, EDS, AVIVA (ugh! ugh! ugh! and double ugh!), have run my own companies, have stumbled headlong through relationship break-up, redundancy, full-blown bankruptcy, losing my home, watching my car and anything valuable quite literally being driven away by the Official Receivers, and now I am a pith-helmet wearing vegan peacenik non-theist hippie hiding under a hedgerow in rural Lincolnshire. To give some semblance of earning a living I now work as a “vintage photographer” (all Edwardian field cameras and “magnesium powder” flash), and also bash out stories, articles, books and screenplays on my portable typewriter (which I have named Doris).
What do you write about?
The what that I write about is everything, the how is always, I hope, with humor. I don’t think that I could write anything serious to save my life. Actually, that’s not strictly true; all of the statements that I have written at the formal behest of Police officers have been works of serious modern art. People, sci-fi, anthropomorphic animals, scrambled history – there’s a constant caricatured cartoon-show in my head, and I transcribe some of it to paper. What I write is how I see the world the whole time, even when asleep.
What has been you proudest moment as a writer?
That would be walking into a bookshop in Liverpool in the early nineteen-nineties and seeing my very first book on the shelves and for sale among those written by real authors. I think that in the end after several years it had sold something like fifty or sixty copies, and didn’t so much go out of print as it ran screaming to the remainders pulping factory, the unsold copies leaping like lemmings from an overhead gantry down into the whirling blades. Sniffle. Still, it was a great moment.
What would you like to see happen in the future with your writing?
Like all authors I would like to reach a wider audience than at present (I get the impression that currently only my solicitors read me). As a minimum I would like some future generation of my family draw up our family tree and to depict me as hanging upside down from my branch, sporting a Cheshire-cat grin and clutching a dozen hardback volumes of Hutson nonsense.
Besides writing what are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about the English language and the rather misleading terms “English (UK)” and “English (US)”. Entirely and sincerely without wishing in any way to upset any of my friends from the USA; I am passionate about the matter of English versus American. The rules of everyday American are much different to those of everyday English. How I wish that when you (quite reasonably) took the hump with our King George that you had been miffed enough to also change the name of your language, thus avoiding confusion today. Do please remember that I mean no offence, just to offer my observations, from my point of view.
Languages are communication systems just like Mr. Morse’s various codes, and if you don’t know which set of coding and decoding rules to use then we often understand not I you wibble moo fribble de-clomp boing boing sometimes, Nanny, and other dire consequences. Think of the parallel of NASA’s recent disastrous technical problems with Imperial measurements versus Metric measurements. It’s all very “send reinforcements, we’re going to advance” translates into “send three and four pence, we’re going to a dance”. You’re good; I’m fine. You give it some gas; I’ll keep my gas to myself and floor the accelerator.
So basically, as far as I am concerned and with my best wishes, viva Americanese! Thumbs up to the international recognition of USAean! I’m all in favor of whatever new name you choose! Maybe then, and only then, long live my much-loved version of English. Some fine hopes eh? As I said, it’s a dreary soap-box of mine, and you must remember that the dinosaurs and I have a lot in common with each other; they all died out jumping off cliffs in exasperation when everybody else began speaking and writing in “Dinosaur (Mammal)”.
[Here plods upstage in tears towards the White Cliffs of Dover, towing his little trailer of largely defunct Oxford Dictionaries and hugging a bedraggled and damp Teddy bear…]
If you could give a new writer advice what would that be?
Find a way to encourage yourself. You will like as not meet with bemused amusement, derision or even – which is far, far worse – complete disinterest from family and friends. You will need to be your own support group! Once you’ve done that – keep on writing and keep on trying.
Where can people find your work?
NGLND XPX – to be published at the beginning of October 2013 – is an anthology of (hopefully) funny stories of cute little robots, ruddy great steam engines, a few terribly English zombies, old-age pensioners in the armed services, Her Majesty The Queen doing the (European) dishes and how to do “First Contact” properly.
Asimov’s laws come in very handy, I take the rise right out of the Industrial Revolution and, naturally, Queen Victoria sings Beatles songs while playing air guitar. The story titles range from ‘The Model-T Virgin’, through ‘Beggin’ your pardon m’lord, but Cook’s been eaten again’, to ‘Robots knitting with rubber needles’ and ‘Je pense it’s all going very bien’. It’s pure blathering, and I hope that folk on both sides of the Atlantic puddle enjoy it. The characterizations are thin and the plots are virtually non-existent, but the intention is that every reader should be familiar with the word “chuckle” after reading the book.
The work-in-progress is an as-yet untitled post-apocalyptic utopia(to balance out the glut of dystopias). Set in England, of course, and featuring the usual mature cast of characters (to balance out some of society’s youth-worship bias). There’s splendid for you, Myffanwy, yes indeed. Oops, I just lapsed into Welshish, laddie. Oh no – now Scottish. I need caffeine and hot, buttered toast immediately please Nanny…
Chin-chin, Ian H.
http://dieselelectricelephant.co.uk/ is the place to find it and all of my other ramblings and my blog.
I may also be found on Twitter under http://twitter.com/dieselelephants and on FaceBook at http://www.facebook.com/TheDieselElectricElephantCompany .
The other ninety percent of my gainful employment may be seen at http://www.vintagephotographer.co.uk