I was born in Dunfermline, Fife in 1963 but spent the bulk of my childhood in Hertfordshire and Kent where I developed a number of unsavoury personality traits, including an irrational interest in cricket. Returning to Scotland to study English at St Andrews University, I found myself scared and depressed by Anglo-Saxon poetry and eventually retreated into the warm embrace of the Hons. degree in General History.
After three dissolute years, I stumbled into the James IV Special Subject run by Dr Norman Macdougall. The enthusiasm, good humour and excitement that characterised Norman’s teaching set me on the slippery slope to postgraduate study and a lifetime of academic penury. I finished my PhD at St Andrews in 1989 and thereafter held two postdoctoral fellowships in the same institution before spending two ‘interesting’ years as a Lecturer in History at Aberdeen. In 1997 I was appointed to a Lectureship in Scottish History in Edinburgh and, via a series of administrative mix-ups, have since been promoted to a Senior Lectureship and then a Readership in History.