What does the PhD mean to you on a personal level what is it?
It was an amazing sense of achievement and I did a bit project and a lot of fieldwork. To me personally I felt it was a really good achievement you know something to be proud of. I wrote a book based on it. Everyone has got a book inside of them and I've managed to write a book now and so that's always nice. I just learned so much doing it, even though, okay, I was in my 30s when I did it, I think I matured even more doing it. You do become more self-reliant, you work things out for yourself because you have to. Okay I was sort of living in a tent on my own for a couple of months each summer. I was very fortunate I had a supervisor who was just obsessed and really interested in what I was doing he kept coming flying up to visit me whenever I was up there. But I think even if it was a desk based PhD, you learn a lot of self-reliance; you've got to do it yourself, you have got to work to the deadlines. It really teaches you so much. It is a damned hard way of going about it.
In terms of your identity, you were a gardener, you were then a PhD student - did you feel that people treated you differently? Responded differently towards you when they knew what you were doing, especially people that had known you in your previous career?
Interesting, I would say some of the guys in the pub were intimidated, you know, where I had come from, those people were intimidated. I was very much accepted by students, very, very much accepted by the staff. They thought it was great one of the university gardeners, you know, ending up doing a PhD, and they had always been very supportive and very helpful and I had a lot of opportunities to work on great projects. I've always found that interesting my original peers were a bit funny about it and intimidated and my new set of peers were accepting more.