Reading Mick Haines’ autobiography Born Into Fire is like sitting down with the author for a good long chat. Cheerful, resilient, and easy to like, Haines is a guy’s guy who knows how to enjoy life and doesn’t dwell on its hardships.
Having retired unexpectedly early from his firefighting career, Haines subsequently decided to write about his life. Born in 1962 in Bracknell Berkshire, about 30 miles west of London, he was the youngest of four children. Family pleasures included swims in a quarry that had formed in an old brickworks factory and frequent stays at his grandparents’ picturesque thatched cottage. Haines had many happy days — and many scrapes, of course — roaming the woods and fields with his friends and his beloved dog, Boysie.
Haines plunges into adult life at the age of 16 by enlisting in the British Army. The life of an infantryman suits him well. The level of physical fitness he develops becomes a lifelong constant, and many of his future passions — navigating, taking long hikes, camping, traveling, skiing — had their beginnings then. Haines’ tour of duty takes him to Germany and Northern Ireland, without incident. And when it’s over, the life of a firefighter seems a natural fit.
In Haines‘ book, we clearly see the pursuits that have shaped his life: fighting fires, figuring out how to do things others tell him he can’t do, fixing up old houses and gardens, staying in touch with old friends and lovers. And he adores his pets.
Born into Fire is a fine start for a new writer. Haines has a distinctive voice and a wonderfully relaxed style. Although the book itself will probably be most interesting to people who have shared Haines‘ past or his interests, one can easily imagine him using his strong writing skills to move into journalism (writing a column or travel pieces, for example) or perhaps writing fiction, should that suit him.
Also available as an ebook.