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An Interview with Mick Rennison - Author of Keep on Truckin' 40 Years on the Road

An interview with Mick Rennison

In eager anticipation of Mick’s autobiography Keep On Truckin’ – Out in February 2016, we wanted to know a little bit more about the writer.

Here Mick discusses hobbies, writing and how he began his career in the haulage industry.

Could you tell us abit about your early days in trucking? I began my driving career as a van driver for Curry’s. My father was a truck driver and as a kid I would go with him on school holidays, so I always wanted to have a go at driving the bigger trucks. But it wasn’t until I moved to Wales with a small family that I got the chance. The industry then was pretty much unregulated; there were rules but nobody followed them and health and safety was mostly ignored. If you got hurt it was your own bloody fault. I shudder to think of what I got up to. When carrying timber I’d have to climb up on top of the load, maybe 15 or 16 foot high, and spread a tarpaulin over the timber. Usually on a dock side in all weathers. Of course people fell off and got hurt but that was just the way it was. Falling asleep at the wheel after driving excessive hours was pretty common too. In my early years unemployment was the boss’s best friend and the drivers’ worst enemy. Any dissent or unwillingness to break the rules would mean your P45. I was often on the dole for long periods; the first time, with a partner and 2 children, I was entitled to £11.00 per week. You can see why most people would put up with anything just to stay in work. But I loved it.

What lead you into a transcontinental driving career? My willingness to undertake any job is what eventually lead me into the long distance work. You never knew where you’d be going. When you tipped your first load you would phone in, reverse charge call from a phone box, then you would get your next job and destination. Returning to the yard after 3 or 4 days away (or 3 or 4 weeks when the job later took me over the water) I’d have a sense of satisfaction, job well done. I still do. Moving back to civilization on the South coast, I began working for driving agencies. In my time I must have worked for dozens of them and they are all the same. They promise you the world just to get you on their books, then it is always tomorrow, they’ll call tomorrow with the details. And when you do get a job you get treated badly by the employers and your fellow drivers. Everybody hates agency drivers! But I earned some decent money. In the early 2000s I was taking home twice as much as I am now.

I double manned trucks (2 drivers) with my wife Jo all over Europe and Scandinavia for nearly 10 years before her untimely death from cancer aged just 49 years old.

How would you describe yourself? My kids and granddaughter would and do, call me an old hippy. My haircut now, what little there is left, is a number 5 so maybe they’re talking attitude not appearance. But I have to admit I've got some pretty neat tie dye!

Do you have any thoughts about your writing career? I began my writing with pieces for a couple of truck magazines in the early 90’s. I took the musical Chess (in the back of a truck) to Norway and kept a diary of the 3 week trip. I submitted it to Truck Magazine and they published it over 2 issues as a ‘Long Distance Diary’. As you can imagine it was thrilling to see it in print. Road Transport Media have recently republished the Chess trip in a new volume of Long Distance Diaries. I followed this with accounts of various accidents and incidents I encountered on the road. These were published in Trucking International under ‘My Mistake’. Over the years I have also written articles about my pet hates: rubbish in lay-bys, tailgating and crap bosses. Don’t get me started!

In the mid 90’s I began writing a novel. Ten years later I self-published ‘Diesel Rose’. A hard drinking man eater, Rose stood over 6 foot tall and weighed in at more than 20 stone. She teams up with Dave the hero and they travel around Europe in a legendary Ford Transcontinental truck. It contains sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. It got a great review in Truck & Driver and sold well though 100s not 1000s.

My next attempt at a novel was ‘Charlie’s Place’. A story of a crook who runs a truck stop. Again it took me years to finish. The manuscript will hopefully be published in the near-future.

What does a truck driver like yourself enjoy in their spare time? When I was 8 years old I got the ‘I Spy’ book of birds for Christmas and I was hooked. I don’t travel around the Kingdom seeking them out but let them come to me. Although I do confess to once driving 50 miles off route to see the ospreys at Loch Garten in Scotland. While travelling around Europe I have seen some amazing birds. I always carry binoculars and the truck serves as an excellent hide. Some favourites are bee-eaters in Portugal following a plough, golden eagles and vultures in Spain, nightingales in Italy and hoopoes in France. On my canal mooring I have a bird list of over 40. Everything from sparrow hawks to kingfishers.

My other passion is music. I can’t play a note but I just love live music. As a teenager I went to many free festivals and in recent years have seen greats like Leonard Cohen, BB King and Eric Clapton. We also love musicals often taking the boat up into London on a Saturday morning (2 to 3 hours), seeing a band or show in the evening then returning to our mooring on the Sunday.

Where can we find you when you are not writing? I’m a born traveller. I sailed the world in the Merchant Navy as a teenager. And got paid for it! In more recent times I’ve travelled up to Sweden in a camper van, toured Europe and Ireland in a van with a bed in the back and crossed the USA coast to coast in a RV with my sons and granddaughter. Last year I married Charley and we honeymooned driving an RV 5000 K’s across Canada. Some might say these are ‘busman’s holidays’ and perhaps they are. But it’s a real buzz plotting and planning these trips and again a great sense of satisfaction when the journey ends all safe and well.

Click here to pre-order Keep on Truckin': 40 Years on the Road.

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