About the Author:
Vincent Smith was born in the Shiregreen district of Sheffield in 1944 and grew up in a council house perched on the summit of one of Sheffield's many hills. The area was known as Sheffield Lane Top and was the northern terminus of the tram network until the demise of the trams in 1960. His journey to grammar school at the posh end of town took him through the industrial east end of Attercliffe and Brightside, in those days mostly thick with factory smoke, now largely stripped of its steel works and bristling instead with entertainment centres and retail parks. He studied economics, statistics and operational research at university before joining British Aerospace in Preston, working for nearly 20 years in business modelling and IT. When BAe acquired Royal Ordnance he moved there to work in project and production management and ended up as Head of IT. He took early retirement in 1994 at the age of 50 and has kept the academic side of his brain active since then with a part time job as associate lecturer for the Open University in the maths department. He has lived in Chorley since 1973 but retains his links with Sheffield. After the death of his mother in 2006, he decided to retain the old family home as a pied-à-terre , and is thus one of a select few people who have a holiday home in Sheffield.
He has been interested since school days in most art forms, both as doer and spectator. His special interests include theatre, art and architecture, poetry, and most forms of music. Painting and piano playing have been life-long companions, and he has spent much time touring the buildings and historic sites of the English Heritage, with a special love of cathedrals.
Writing has also been a long term interest. He began writing poetry towards the end of his university days and has been writing it ever since. To date he has compiled six collections, Maths Research, a Devon Church and Thou, Yesterday's Man, A Tender Place, Back to Basics, The Warwickshire Tales and Sondry Burlesques, and Talking to Mother. A seventh could be made up from his many miscellaneous pieces. He is also considering self-publishing a narrative poem called Song of a Sheffield Man. Only one of the collections, Back to Basics, has found its way into print but quite a few individual poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines, most notably Orbis and The Literary Review. He had some competition successes in the 1990s with Rhyme International and the Blue Nose anthology competitions but has not entered many competitions since then. The business of publication is arduous and fraught with disappointments and he has made little effort in recent years to get more of his poems into print. On the other hand he is thinking about following the lead of various friends and making them available on-line.
During the 1980s he also compiled a tourist guide to the buildings of England in which he summarized the history of castles, houses, churches, abbeys and cathedrals and (for completion rather than great interest) pre-historic and Roman sites. He selected and classified about 7000 sites across the various types and offered the work for publication. There were several compliments but no takers, so the book has remained a useful guide for his own travels, and a good source of material for the many talks he has given. He is currently working on a revision of the cathedrals part of the work with the intention of adding photographs, preferably his own, and relishes the thought of another grand tour which such a photographic project would entail.
After retirement he decided to write a novel. Called Cellar Spiders, it covered four years in the life of a young man and looked at some of the life changing decisions that sometimes have to be made (no, it isn't an autobiography - honestly!). it was completed relatively quickly but the disappointing publishing experiences of the past led to its languishing in a drawer, where it still gathers dust. But like the poetry, he is contemplating making it available as an ebook.