Solicitor and writer
Car: 1956 Daimler/ 1985 Land Rover pick-up
Music: Classical to Romantic, including Mahler’s 4th Symphony
Hobbies: Old cars, reading, gardening, DIY
Holiday destination: Beaumaris, Anglesey
Food and drink: Omnivorous veering to semi-vegetarian
Newspaper: The Times
Pin-up: Doesn’t have one
Love/Hate: Fair play/ judgemental unfairness
WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?
At the age of three weeks I moved to Stafford. It was a perfectly normal childhood, I lived in Rowley Avenue and had a younger sister, Alicia. Both of us went to boarding school – mine was Monckton Coombe near Bath. My father Gerald was county medical officer of health and my mother Effie was very active with the family planning association and did a lot of drama with Stafford WI.
I was seven when I went, nearly eight, and it is just what you did. My parents took particular care boarding school children were all brought together socially during the holidays so there was no being cut off from others – I had a wide range of local friends.
TELL US A CHILDHOOD MEMORY
My first school was Greenhall, when it was still a pre-preparatory school before Brooklands was opened.
In 1947 I remember walking along the grammar school wall by the playing field, because the path was flooded. When I was told off for being late one of the teachers I saw cycling through the water said I wasn’t to be told off because she had had to come through the water.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU LEFT SCHOOL?
I had no burning ambition but my father’s advice was that if I didn’t want to collect butterflies in the Andes, or something else interesting, become an accountant because you get work everywhere.
I went to the LSE (London School of Economics) to do economics and accountancy, then switched rather quickly to law. Professor (Laurence) Gower, who did company and business law, was a leading light there and he started my interest in law.
HOW DID YOUR CAREER PROGRESS?
I was an article clerk at my grandfather and uncle’s firm in Manchester – Lloyd, Davies and Pickstone. On qualifying I went to a smaller commercial firm in Manchester and after a few years to Kent, Jones and Done in Stoke on Trent.
In 1996 I set up my sole practice in Stafford, specialising in pension schemes law, which I had already done for a very long time previously. About 90 per cent of it is helping administrators or trustees of pension schemes, one or two people every other year or so as individuals.
WHAT HAVE YOU WRITTEN FOR THE LAW PROFESSION?
I have written articles and specimen documents in New Law Journal and still do – the first one in 1970 was an article on the use of the words “will” and “shall” in legal documents and I still think it is the best thing I have written!
The big work I do is Kelly’s Draftsman, (now Kelly’s Legal Precedents), a collection of templates for legal documents, from arbitration to wills, covering almost every action High Street solicitors need every day. I have been doing that since 1973.
I have also written a book of company law and the Reduced Law Dictionary, which consists of snippets, 101 word pieces on points of law and legal anecdotes which New Law Journal publishes in its back pages.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SHORT STORY COLLECTION, MID-STAFFORD MURDERS
I have always scribbled one thing or another; I did a few 101 word short stories for a short-lived magazine in Stoke on Trent called Lexicon. What I write is very concise, but doesn’t feel concise. I say no more than you need to.
In January 2013 I saw a Newsletter billboard in Rising Brook that said “man dead on railway” and thought I could make up a back story which would be implausible, to have some unlikely murder to account for it. Then I wrote the Maupassant story (of a Sicilian vendetta) and set it in Marsden Street. I wrote a third story, sent them to Julian Roskams of publisher Etica and he said “I love these, you have got to make them into a book.”
I looked up the statistics for ITV’s Midsomer Murders and worked out that if I did one murder a month I could exceed the rate of murder in Midsomer and Stafford could come out on top.
No ideas come completely out of a vacumn; in one story, the M6, twins race from Creswell to Dunston, one on the M6 and the other through the town. When my sister and I were in our late teens and driving we had friends up at Creswell and would see who could get there faster via motorway or town.
The last story is The Crown, the pub in Hyde Lea. I found an unsolved murder from Warwickshire, from 1940, and used the bare facts. Somebody diligent who knows unsolved murders will recognise it but I dealt with it in a totally different manner.
The book is available from Webberleys in Stoke on Trent, Stafford Waterstones, Amazon or my website, www.roderickramage.net.