Sunday, January 24, 2010

It was twenty years ago yesterday

In January 1990 I emigrated to the UK, having been granted indefinite leave to stay and work here mainly thanks to fact one of my grandparents was British. [Regulations have changed since then, I believe, but don't quote me on that.] I arrived on an overcast Tuesday with about £3000, one suitcase and a letter from Doctor Who Magazine inviting me to come talk about job prospects. There were no jobs at DWM, but I got a flat and a mate out of it [thanks, John!].

Back home in New Zealand I'd been a daily newspaper journalist, specialising in court reporting and arts coverage [not two areas that often overlap, it has to be admitted]. Having failed to win a permanent place in the New Zealand Herald's features department, I decided to emigrate and spent a year most of 1989 saving up the readies, getting my immigration status in order.

I could have gone to Australia, but that just felt like a larger, louder version of New Zealand. [Not that accurate a portrayal, to be honest]. I might have swung a visa for the US, thanks to relatives in Maryland. But Britain appealed, and I had an idle fantasy of one day writing Doctor Who stories for television [the BBC covertly cancelled three weeks before I arrived.

Within two months of arriving I was near broke, struggling to find work and homesick. Foolish pride meant I couldn't go back to NZ, not until at least a year had passed. But I bluffed my way into a subbing job on a satellite TV listings mag, before stumbling into an assistant editor's job on a soon-to-launch comic called the Judge Dredd Megazine. I was settling in.

Fast forward to January 2010. The Megazine is still going and I'm still here. Haven't fulfilled my idle fantasy of writing Doctor Who for TV yet, but I've had four Who novels published and scripted audio dramas featuring the Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and the Daleks. The BBC's broadcasting my first TV drama next month and the dream remains alive, however unlikely it might be.

Looking back, it seems an act of supreme optimism to travel halfway round the world to a country where I knew one person in search of something better. But it's exactly what my relatives did in the 19th and 20th Centuries. They went south from the northern hemisphere, I reversed that journey. One day I'll go back for good - but not just yet. Life is sweet as, bro. Onwards!


Adaddinsane said...

Nice story. You may yet reach the ultimate prize :-)

Annaliese said...

Well, we miss you back here in Kiwi land, and I'm off to the louder version of NZ in July! Woot!