I picked up a double bass when I was sixteen. I never put it down for 30 years. Does the player choose the instrument, or does the instrument choose the player? They put me in the School's 3rd orchestra and I only had to pluck one note per bar whilst listening to wonderful tunes. I was hooked.
I didn't anticipate a performing career. I had wanted to work in orchestral management. After a business course and a year in an office, I could resist no longer. A student orchestral tour to France consisted of playing all day for two weeks. It was bliss. By the time we returned, I had a game plan. I worked part-time and practised ferociously. After two years I joined the orchestra of Welsh National Opera.
I played a considerable amount of the grand opera repertoire over six years. I discovered what brilliant singing sounds like. After most of Puccini, Mozart and Janacek, and several complete performances of Wagner's Ring cycle, I left Wales. It was time to move on.
I went back to London, and picked up more freelance work than I expected. I soon found myself with dates for many orchestras including the BBC Symphony, English National Opera, Royal Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta and City of London Sinfonia.
Two bass teaching jobs came up locally, at Watford School of Music and the renowned Purcell School. I reduced my concert and touring commitments and developed the educational side. I became fascinated by the psychology of personality. What makes one person an eager learner ready for the next challenge, and the other unable to countenance the disappointment of failure? It was time to find out.
I took courses in music education and instrumental teaching methodology, and went on to take a BA(Hons) in music at Kingston. I fitted it all round the playing and the teaching and three young children - my wife has the patience of a saint. I studied psychodynamic psychology and counselling skills, and found out how someone's behaviour reveals remarkable insights about their inner psychological state.
I became an instrumental music co-ordinator in Hertfordshire and ran courses and trained string teachers. I still did some concert work but much less.
We started taking family holidays in the Scottish highlands and islands, and we soon realised that away from the hurlyburly of a big city there was space and landscape and seascape, and fantastic light and a different pace of life. We found a run-down house on the Isle of Harris, and went there in all the school holidays. After three years, we decided to sell up in Watford and move permanently to Harris in 2007.