Croy man’s ebook wins cult online following

Author James Differ
Author James Differ

A CROY man has written a book about his life - and what a life it has been.

James Differ (78) spent a decade penning Two Bites at The Cherry and the end result is now on sale as an ebook on Amazon.

The former miner, who hails from Kirkintilloch, came up the hard way – he has been imprisoned on two continents, has had a battle with the bottle and lost three of his sons in tragic circumstances.

But widower James of Hillside has quite literally lived to tell the tale and the end result is gathering an online cult following where his courage and prose style have been praised in equal measure.

In fact,the News and Chronicle was alerted to the presence of the book by a fan who is not known to James or this reporter - who wants to ensure that the book has a wider audience.

Two Bites At The Cherry took shape when James joined a writers’s group at the Pivot Centre in Moodiesburn.

And a family contact with writer Des Dillon led to the autobiography being published in ebook form - when the Coatbridge native recognised that James had penned something really special.

When the News asked Des to say what he liked about it, he replied: “This book is a must for everyone who has ever dreamed of a better future”

And now readers can discover it for themselves - and it is plain that it will have particular significance for anyone who is struggling with an addiction problem.

“I originally wrote the book for my family,’’ said James - in a move which automatically grants it a huge readership as he has three daughters, three sons, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren whose photographs lovingly adorn his cosy home.

“I wanted them to know the truth about my life - in case anyone else said anything about me!’’ added James who was adamant that the more painful aspects of his past be catalogued in full.

“My life now is magnificent. I am very happy. I like ‘me’. That never happened in the past. I always blamed others for my problems. I said I was from the wrong family or blamed my behaviour say on the death of my mother when I was young. I never thought that the drink had anything to do with it,’’ said James

He was determined to ignore warnings from desperate friends and family who begged him to change.

“I always just thought I could drink everybody under the table – I didn’t realise what it was doing to me. When I look back on some of the things that happened, I can’t believe I’m talking about the same person. I was the sort of guy who always liked a laugh – but more often than not, life laughed at me,’’ admitted James.

Joining the armed forces is often viewed as the making of many a man and James served both in the Army and the Merchant Navy.

But neither could tame him – and to prove it, James did a prison stint in Australia after his career as a sailor went disastrously wrong.

When he returned to Scotland he could not keep it together in “civvy street” - and ended up in prison again. Constantly awash in a sea of booze James hit rock bottom one Saturday morning in The Coachman while contemplating suicide.

Help was at hand from a kindly churchman who had recognised him from a prison stint - and before long, he set about rebuilding his life.

How he achieved that is fully documented in the book but he also credits his family for standing by him. “They are amazing,’’ said James.

“I always say that when the hard times came, we circled our wagons,’’ he added.

James also believes that living in Croy has given him a stablising base to re-build his life.

“Croy is different from other places. It is a bit more like the way things used to be. People here are very neighbourly and that has made a big difference to me,” said James.

His book is now available for download priced £4.32.