I was born in London and lived with my parents and grandparents in a council flat on the White City Estate in Shepherds Bush. My mother and father were both Russian variety artistes and circus performers. My early years were spent touring with them in numerous circuses and variety theatres in England, living in caravans and theatrical digs, and being educated in a different school each week. I must have gone to well over 100 schools. Between the ages of 8 and 9 I shared a large bus with six chimpanzees when my parents toured around Europe with a chimpanzee act. The chimps became my surrogate brothers and sisters. I had no formal schooling during this period, and most of my reading matter came from ‘The Dandy’, ‘The Beano’ and ‘The Beezer’ which my grandmother sent me from England.
As a teenager I ran at an athletics event at the White City Stadium and was the 6th fastest young quarter miler in London.
Over the years I have done many different things and tackled various jobs to pay the rent including:
- A cartoonist exhibiting in West End subways
- Carpet seller in Shepherd’s Bush Market
- Salesperson at Burtons
- Teaboy in an electronics factory
- Graphic & photographic designer
- Cleaner in St.James’s Palace
- An extra in British and Dutch TV
- Bottle operative at the Heineken factory in Amsterdam
- Labourer, painter and wallpaper-stripper in house renovation
- Travel agent clerk and postboy
- Teacher and Lecturer
- Stage manager in a Soho strip joint
- Accounts clerk
- Cleaner with a domestics agency
- Book factory operative
- Ceiling art restorer at Carlton House Terrace
Later I trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and then spent 8 years in the theatre as a Stage Manager /Actor working for both the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. After which I worked for many years at the BBC as a Script Editor and Drama Producer on several award winning TV series.
I now spend my time playing with photos and writing. My first novel – “A STINK IN THE TALE” – a comedy thriller, about how flatulence brings down the British Government, comes out lthis October published by Telos Publishing http://www.telos.co.uk
All Photographs & Cartoons © Evgeny Gridneff All Rights Reserved