People ask about my background from time to time, so here’s how I came to be writing The Beauty of Transport…
I graduated with a BSc in Transport Management from Aston University in 1998.
My first job was at the newly-created Institute of Logistics and Transport (now the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport) in London, where I worked during 1999 as a Policies Assistant.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, so my next job saw me working as a News Writer, and eventually Assistant Editor at Transit, a news magazine for the passenger transport industry. I wrote news stories and features, and interviewed people who worked in the industry; not to mention putting the magazine together when the editor insisted on going for a holiday.
In late 2002 I joined Surrey County Council‘s Passenger Transport Group. The council was looking for a rail officer, and I got the job. I ended up working with Surrey’s train operators to develop integrated transport projects at railway stations, and write a rail strategy for the county, given that the council wanted to be a lot more involved with its rail network. Eventually, as is often the case in the public sector, the money for such aspirations ran out and the rail job vanished. Luckily for me I stayed on as a senior transport officer, so I got to work on some bus-related projects too (including bus shelters, a long-running concern of this blog), as well as giving advice to Development Control colleagues on public transport provision in relation to new developments.
In 2012, I gave up my job at Surrey County Council so I could do some fostering work for, er, Surrey County Council. That’s got nothing to do with transport at all, but there’s always a need for more foster carers, and I ended up fostering for nearly 10 years. At the same time as I was fostering, I also went freelance as a transport writer, and had good fun working as a contributing editor on New Transit (the descendant of the Transit I mentioned earlier) until the magazine ceased publication in 2013. I’m still freelancing on various bits and pieces, especially proof-reading transport work that others have written.
I also work part time in a local library as a library assistant. Again, this has very little to do with transport apart from the Transport books section. But I’ve always wanted to work in a library, and freelancing can be rather lumpy, so it’s helpful to have at least some regular income. These days, I combine the jobs – freelance transport writing/editorial work and working in a library. The exact amount I’m doing on each one varies depending on a number of factors. It’s what they call a “portfolio career”, and it’s why my Twitter feed features transport, books and libraries, and occasionally thoughts about fostering.
In my spare time I write The Beauty of Transport. A few years back, I realised that no-one was ever going to write the book I’d been waiting for: 1,000 Pieces of Transport Architecture and Design You Must See Before You Die. Neither was anyone going to write its companion volume 1,000 Ways in Which Transport Features in the Arts. Clearly, no-one was going to pay me to write them either given the somewhat niche interest the topics represent. Thank goodness for free blog-hosting sites.
And that’s how we got here.