Jim Meredith interviews Tony Macaulay

Jim Meredith interviews Tony Macaulay, author of All Growed Up, Bread Boy and Paper Boy.  You can catch Tony reading from his new book All Growed Up: What Bread Boy did at university in Waterstones Belfast, Saturday 20th September 2014 at 2pm.


JM: What’s your earliest memory?

TM: Having my tonsils out in the Royal Victoria Hospital at the age of four years old. I remember coming round from the anaesthetic and the Dick Van Dyke show was on the TV in the children’s ward. I cried for my Daddy and the nurses took me into the men’s ward to find a bald man with glasses that looked like my father. They got the poor man to talk to me but it didn’t work. I still bawled my eyes out!

JM: What life lessons did you learn working as a paperboy and breadboy that helped you through your time at university?

TM: Good customer service delivery produces plentiful tips so a well delivered essay on the history of film noir could deliver a 1st!

And hide coins down your Dr Marten boots if you suspect any wee hoods are on campus to rob you of your student grant as you leave the Uni bar.

JM: What was the inspiration for you to put pen to paper and begin writing your memoirs?

TM: Initially it was just for fun. I had recently completed an MBA with the Open University and after many years of studying for career advancement I decided it was time to learn for pure enjoyment. Around that time my mother was moving house and gave me my old school reports. In contrast with some of my other school subjects I noticed that from P1 to Sixth Form I got very positive comments about English and my writing.This reminded me of how much I had enjoyed creative writing at school, but I had spend the past 20 years writing long professional reports. So I signed up for a creative writing course with the OU. I was shy about sharing my writing with others on the course. One fellow student kept sharing long chapters of his science fiction epic which bored me and I’m a sci fi geek! I just assumed if I shared my writing with other students they would humour me the same way they told this guy his writing was marvellous even though it was obviously awful. However my tutor gave me some very positive feedback on an assignment where I wrote about an incident that happened to me as a 12 year old paperboy in 1975. This short story become the a chapter in ‘Paperboy.’

JM: There has been major debates in recent years over whether Veda should come pre-sliced or not. As a former breadboy, what do you think?

TM: As a seasoned bread industry professional I am appalled at any suggestion of a pre-sliced Veda. It’s a slippery slope. Accept pre sliced Veda and in no time at all they will be producing pre-cut soda farl soldiers!

JM: Who are your favourite writers?

TM: Salman Rushdie, Alan Bennett and Louis de Bernières, but not necessarily in that order.

JM: What makes you most happy?

TM: Sitting in a café on Portstewart Prom writing my heart out.  I’ve written most of my books there. I love it so much I don’t notice the hours going by. There’s a story in the new book about an unfortunate incident on the beach the first time I ever visited Portstewart.


JM: Do you have any major regrets in life?

TM: Not mitching off school in 1979 to go to the ABBA concert in the RDS in Dublin. Agnetha spent at least ten years on my bedroom wall in the 1970s. When she finally came down when I went to university, the blu tac pulled shreds of woodchip wallpaper of the bedroom wall.

JM: How do you relax when you’re not working or writing?

TM: I practice silence and centring prayer. It’s a method of silent prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us. You sit comfortably with your eyes closed, relax, and quiet yourself and simply ‘be’ in love and faith to God.

JM: What music would you take with you to a desert island?

TM: ABBA Gold Deluxe Digitally Remastered Extended Edition Box Set.

Dr Who

JM: Do you have any favourite movies or TV shows?

TM: Doctor Who, I am a lifelong Whovian. Last year I won tickets to the 50th Anniversary Celebration in London. I took the whole family and we spent a day surrounded by people of all ages dressed as various regenerations of the Doctor and a multitude of monsters. Then we went to see the 50th anniversary episode in 3D in a cinema in Leicester Square. I had a brilliant time but I didn’t dress up apart from wearing a bow tie. Bow ties are cool.


JM: If you could go back in time and do a different degree at university what would it be?

TM: I would study archeology. I’ve always been fascinated by history, so it’s ironic to be told that some school classes are now reading my books as ‘an enlivener’ for GCSE history!  I have a small collection of ancient artefacts from Egypt and Rome. If I had a chance to follow a different career I’d become an archaeologist.  I’d love to open a trench with Tony Robinson.


Photograph Agatha – Wikicommons – {{Information |Description=Agnetha Fältskog, ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, January 28th 1977 |Source=self-made |Date=January 28th 1977 |Author=Helge Øverås |Permission=Contact photographer http://www.helgeoveras.com/kontakt.shtml }}

Photograph Dr Who Box – By aussiegall from sydney, Australia (Dr Who  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photograph – T-Rex – By Copyright © 2005 David Monniaux (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons