Born in the late 1940s and brought up in a working-class household in Sunderland, in the north east of England, Tony succeeded in passing an exam at the age of eleven, which took him to the local selective Grammar School. He feels he “drifted” from there into the teaching profession, training as a drama teacher at a college in Nottingham, where he met his present wife. Lives are changed by the most ordinary of events and after two years as a teacher he was already becoming bored with future possibilities and realised he had never been out of the educational system. Someone in a bar one night suggested that if he joined the local police they’d give him a house and his qualifications would stand him in good stead. Moved by this and a naïve desire to “do good for society,” a year later he had enlisted in the local force, been to the police training school, learned the very useful life skill of marching (!) and was patrolling the beat in Nottingham on night shift.
For a while he ascended the learning curve, passing all his police exams, gaining a part-time LLB and trying to conform to the culture of the police where, he felt, some of the detectives, were almost as devious as the criminals, bending the rules of fairness when it suited them. Due to his police exam successes he was allowed to try for accelerated promotion but didn’t get past the interview hurdles and had to work his way up the system the hard way, resulting in him getting only to the rank of sergeant and eventually feeling the frustration of seeing others going past him in the promotion stakes.
The boredom of shift work soon left a gap in his life and whilst continuing his interest in amateur drama, he then began the process of writing plays for competitions, some of which he won and so began his urge to become a recognized playwright.
At the age of forty he almost escaped the police system when, without telling his colleagues, he left the Police Training School at Coventry where he was working and went to London to try and fulfil a long-held dream of becoming an actor, auditioning for a place at the Poor School, a part-time college for professional actors. After the strenuous selection procedures he was the only one in his group to be offered a place but having teenage children and a mortgage, he regrets that he finally didn’t have the courage to "walk through the door" into that other world.
They say that the writer must suffer for his art. He returned from the London auditions to the oppressively militaristic world of the police training centre where he had been working away from home for two years and tried yet again for promotion to the next rank and was rebuffed yet again. Totally frustrated with his lack of career and life progress, he thought that he might as well try to gain some personal advancement through his hobby of play writing so late one night, while his colleagues were out on a trip to the local brewery, he used the centre's ageing photocopier without permission to make some copies of his latest one-act play called "Bill" (a sensitive monologue about an old lady talking to her dead husband). He was seen in the copier room by a passing Inspector, the information was passed and next morning he was challenged by his line supervisor as to what he'd been doing there. Washington-like, he decided to tell the truth, hoping for clemency. Instead his room was searched, his plays seized and the Commandant, Vic Hopkins, due to the perceived seriousness of the offence, confined him to sit in tears in his room all day while they carried out a full investigation amongst the rest of the staff as to their involvement, then they let him go home for the weekend to think about his misdemeanour. The following Monday morning the two police bosses of the centre held a military-style discipline interview after which they summarily sent him back to his own force.
Tony is extremely pleased to say that after all this personal anguish, a few months later he had to return to the city of Coventry where one of his plays about female traffic wardens had been found and was being staged by a local drama group, the Criterion Players.
Two of his one-act plays were published by New Playwrights Network of Macclesfield, UK, and when he got his first refusal he decided to explore the idea of self-publishing. Since then he has published more than twenty of his own plays, most of which have been performed by UK & Australian amateur groups and one, “My Brother’s Keeper” reached the final of the Pittsburgh New Play Festival and was later published in Holland and Belgium by Vink & Co. A recent play, "My Father's House" has been featured in the audition book for drama students wishing to attend the London School of Dramatic Art and he has also published novels and poetry for children and adults.
His police career did not end in happy circumstances due to the management style of a certain individual but the British law of libel prevents him being able to say why.
He now spends his time writing and trying to help other playwrights in their search for artistic recognition by uploading the best of their work to a website that he edits called "The Playwrights Publishing Company." (see links)
"What a man can be, he must be ..." (Abraham H. Maslow)