As I mentioned the other week, an author friend sent me some questions to interview one of my characters. It was a great idea and inspired me to carry on with the sequel for the first book in the series which was called ‘Story of a Country Boy.’
The first book describes the adventures of TJ, a brash, illiterate teenager desperate to escape the confines and restrictions of his impoverished Mediterranean village. His journey leads him through the sleazy side of Soho in the 1960s, and opens his eyes to a different world as he seeks to achieve his dreams.
The sequel, likely to be called ‘Son of a Country Boy’ tells the story from the point of view of TJ’s son who was born and brought up in England, and considers himself totally British. He has only known his father briefly but has no time for him, despising TJ and everything he represents.
This is what TJ had to say when we sent our female reporter to find out more about him:
Hello, TJ. Nice to meet you. First, may I ask what is your full name? Do you have a nickname? If so, who calls you this?
I don’t think I’ve been called by my real name since the day I was born. Everyone calls me TJ.
Where and when were you born?
I was born in a small village in Malta shortly before the end of the first world war.
Who are/were your parents?
My father was called Nino and he had a bakery. His job was important when I was young, as British troops occupied the island and needed freshly baked bread. He had no ambition and was a typical peasant, even though he was comparatively rich.
Mum did what women are supposed to do, looked after the kids and tried to keep her husband happy.
On what occasions do you lie?
Whenever I can get away with it. Doesn’t everyone?
How would you describe your hair and eye colour?
Both are dark brown, typical Mediterranean colouring, although my hair has always been very curly, and now has the odd streak of grey.
Do you have any physical traits such as scars, birthmarks, tattoos, etc.? If so, how did you get them?
If I was pale skinned, you’d see how many scars I have. Some are from where I got into fights as a kid, but most were from Dad’s belt. He believed in beating me into submission when I disagreed with him. I had a tattoo to cover up some of the more obvious ones on my arm which were quite ugly.
How would you describe your childhood? Did you enjoy school?
I skived off school so I never learnt to read or write but that was quite common in the villages. Working in the fields was more important to the farming families than learning about Kings and Queens of England. As a child I wanted to escape to somewhere better, but being illiterate was a drawback when I was in London, where it was much rarer.
Do you have a criminal record?
Yes, that was the main reason Papa let me go to England. He thought I brought shame on the family, but they were the losers, not me.
Describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today. Did you have any role models?
I think everything helps to shape us in some way. If my family had been rich politicians, would I have stayed at home, been educated and never learnt about another kind of world? If the troops hadn’t been on our tiny island, would I have learnt so much about women, and realised not every female needed a ring on her finger before she willingly gave away what makes the world go round?
What is your biggest secret? Would you be able to kill someone? If so, in what circumstances?
If I told you that, I’d have to kill you. Seriously, there are some scum bags who shouldn’t be allowed to walk on this earth, but some people might say something similar about me. It depends on your viewpoint.
What is the quality you most like in a woman, and which quality in a man?
A woman needs to be loyal, know her place and understand that a man has needs. Both need to know when to keep their trap shut.
If you could choose, how would you want to die? Who would miss you?
In bed in a mansion making love to a beautiful woman. Would they miss me, or the legend I became? That’s something I’ll never know.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Who knows? I’ve been a rich man, a pauper and everything in between.
You know, you’re quite attractive for an older woman. How about we close this interview down and go out somewhere? I know a nice little place with good food and drink where we can have some privacy and get to know each other better.
What are you suggesting? I’m not sure I understand.
Honey, you’re not young, stupid or naïve. I know what I’m doing and we could enjoy each other, no questions asked. Enough talking, let’s have some fun.
We apologise for this interview being cut short, but if you are interest in reading TJ’s life story you can find it here:
© Val Portelli October 2021