I originate from a small town called Shaw, which is north east of Manchester in the U.K. It was a cotton mill town when I was growing up, virtually everyone worked in one in some capacity, and the tall chimneys dominated the skyline for miles around. The women who worked in them used to protect their hair with scarves otherwise they would be covered in tiny pieces of cotton that would float in the air. If they worked in the ring rooms, which were so noisy you couldn’t even hear yourself speak, they learned to lip read and would have conversations with someone clear across the vast room. As a child, the mills were our providers of skips and wooden crates that we would collect for our November 5TH bonfire night. Before we burnt the containers, we would make a den out of them and keep our eyes open for other kids who would try to steal our fire materials.
Most of the mills have gone now, their chimneys no longer visible, and the women don’t need to protect their hair anymore. I don’t know if the kids still do their own bonfires or where they get their wood if they do, but bonfire nights used to be special with all the neighbors contributing food like black peas, treacle toffee, tater ash, caramels, and potatoes baked and blackened in the fire. We had songs that we used to sing at doorsteps, hoping to get money to buy fireworks with, or waste it on cider, the real alcoholic cider that we would drink in our den.
I worked in some of the cotton mills, but I hated the ring rooms where the cotton was spun. Apart from the noise and the flecks of cotton, it was also very hot. I did various jobs in my late youth and early adulthood. I operated a machine that sliced and wrapped bread, I was a gas station attendant, a roofer, apprentice electrician, pipe fitter, waiter in hotels and restaurants, small truck driver collecting supplies, and a bunch of other jobs. I then decided, seeing my life being wasted, to become a butler and I had to go to London to learn. As I didn’t have the fee at the time, I took another job that I did after school making sausages.
As a butler it took me into a different world of wealth and privilege. From rows of terraced houses and semi-detached housing, now I was living in huge mansions as well as working in them. Some of them were actually quite easy to navigate, others were a nightmare of continually getting lost or not being able to locate someone whilst carrying a tray of tea or something. Usually the work was long from first thing in the morning to last thing at night. I opened the house and I closed it, which sounds simple until you factor in the amount of drapes to open, wooden shutters, taking the dogs out and feeding them, checking all the rooms for stray dishes and plumping up all the cushions in case someone came into the room. Working in service, you tend to tune out the conversations going on around you, and the general rule is to not speak unless spoken to. Of course there are times when you have to say something, but it has to be at the proper time and you have to ask for permission. When I brought help in to assist with a dinner party, they used to ask me how I kept my mouth quiet when one of the dinner guests was talking drivel. I would reply that I didn’t hear them, and that was often very true. Even now, no longer butlering, I can still tune out, much to the annoyance of my wife who’s been talking for five or ten minutes. I would hear things sometimes, as other staff would, and we would chat about it out of earshot of the family and guests. It was never very complimentary toward them. We would also gossip about everyone on the ‘other side’, but we would never do so in public. It was always kept ‘in house’, but the family always wanted to know what the staff had learned about their friends. I worked as butler in England for fifteen years, then after marrying Debbie who hails from San Francisco, I moved to the USA. I worked for a short time as a host and head waiter in a restaurant close to where we lived, but once Debbie’s girls graduated from school, I took a butler job in Dallas, Texas. We lived there for thirteen years, and I worked for the same family for over ten of them. I would probably still be there but for another member of staff taking advantage of them. I told them I didn’t like it, but as they were reluctant to let me deal with it as they liked him so much, I left. It has gotten even worse since I went, he does practically nothing while he’s there, if he chooses to work that is, and leaves at lunchtime. Good luck to him but I still think he should have been fired.
I started writing when I was in Dallas. I didn’t get very far, it just started out as a butler’s life. Then after losing two jobs in quick succession during the recession, I found myself out of work and we were back in California. My resume was ruined by those two disasters and I couldn’t find anything so I returned to the book. It still contained a butler’s work, but I turned it into a murder mystery and called it Stonebridge Manor. Apart from having initial problems with editing and formatting, which was all my fault for rushing it into print, it has had great reviews and more importantly for myself, has entertained. Since then I have written Prospects, which is about serial killing brothers in San Francisco, and Consequences, which is about a young man who has had issues with bullies and people who have done him wrong, so he exacts his revenge. I have also finished another book, The Innocent Children, which is about human trafficking in the USA. Despite the content of the last three books, I still strive to make them entertaining as well as make you think.
We now live in Rio Vista, California along the banks of the Sacramento River in our fifth wheel. The river is enjoyed by wind surfers and kite boarders as the Delta Winds blow along the river, but the skyline here isn’t very tall chimneys, it’s windmills. Hundreds and hundreds of them. I don’t swim so I don’t get into the water, and my biggest pastimes apart from writing and reading are football (soccer in the US) and golf. I don’t kick the ball anymore but I do like to hit one when I can!
I am now with DonnaInk Publications, http://www.donnaink.org who will be publishing, and re-publishing, all of my books. You can also find me at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPeterC.Bradbury