(When you’re as old as I am, you need a good laugh…)

There you go: not much of a gag, but something personal from me that (in a way) sums up my take on life. I like to look on the lighter side of humanity. I have never failed to put humour into my writing, even in my thrillers, because I believe that releasing tension is an effective process for any author, irrespective of genre. That comes from my experience as a reader, not as a writer. Slipping light relief between dramatic scenes is a common technique in the theatre too, as well as on screen. Look at Columbo. How many times have we watched Peter Falk play a scene for laughs as the scruffy policeman before we see him corner a murderer with the deftest of detection?

My very first attempts at writing were intended to make my peers laugh, as a gangling teenager trying to make himself more popular – especially with girls. Amateur dramatics followed soon after, once I’d discovered the heady experience of hearing a wave of laughter from an audience. They were vocalising their appreciation for something written and performed by me, even if it was only a silly sketch at a church concert. In that moment I was aware of the potential within me, and the reward of laughter.

At the time of writing, I’m about to celebrate my 70th birthday, and with that I can also mark fifty years of being involved in theatre. I am fortunate in having occasionally experienced professional (paid) work, including many leading roles as an actor. I’ve reached a period in my life where I can happily indulge in creative pursuits that often allow me a smile of content, knowing I have touched someone else in a positive way. The total number of books I sell matters little to me, nor how many listen to the recordings I put out through JAPE Productions. I know that, even after I’m gone, there is every possibility that something I wrote or performed will still have a beneficial effect on a person I never met. Just ONE is enough. Who knows what that individual may go on to do as a result?

Someone once said that everything we do has a consequence. We see that every day on the news. Politicians, religious leaders, celebrities – all bear responsibility for their actions on this fragile planet. I’m no saint either, but I’m also a parent and a grandparent. My legacy is already out there, giving me pride and joy, and a great many smiles. If you’ve read this far, I recommend you do whatever you can today to find something that brings a smile to your face – and then share it with as many others as possible.

Go on. We could all use a good laugh! (And it might just save the planet…)

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