Character Profile: Andy Taylor

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Name: Andrew Maximilian George Thomas Taylor

Date of Birth: April 2nd, 1967

Hometown: Tyseley, West Midlands, England

Height: 6ft 1in

Andy is my perfect idea for a rogue! Like Maddie, he is based largely off my own personality, but more the masculine aspects of my life. While maintaining the basic aspects of my personality, such as being kind, open to different tastes, willing to listen, has an ironic sense of humour, polite, and generally amiable, Andrew Maximilian George Thomas Taylor also possesses the more boyish things that I enjoy in my life as well, such as fast cars, exercising, hard rock and overall larking about!

Background

Born April 2nd, 1967, in Birmingham, Andy Taylor is the son of Marco (b.1946) and Judy (b. 1947 – d. 1980) Taylor (née Rycroft), who lived in the deprived district of Tyseley to the south of the city. Marco was a car builder at the Austin factory in Longbridge, and was a notable campaigner for workers rights, improved pay and had a fervent hatred for the established classes. Judy on the other had was daughter to a line of Walsall based housebuilders, the company ownership having been inherited by her brother David (b.1936) who was 10 years her senior. In spite of her more affluent upbringing, Judy preferred a simpler life away from flamboyant parties and other functions of her particular social class. She first met Marco in school, and was enthralled by his ethical views of giving rights to the people, though his teachers and fellow schoolmates were quick to andy-young-at-workbrand him a communist. Born into desperate poverty, Marco had witnessed the worst of society at the bottom of the ladder, and had grown tired of the higher orders constantly spitting down on his social level. The pair began dating until Judy fell pregnant with their child at the age of 20. The two hastily married at the insistence of her father in 1967 and a few months later gave birth to Andy.

Andy was named Andrew Maximilian George Thomas Taylor. Though no explanation was truly given as to why he was anointed with such an elaborate name, especially the Maximilian part, he suspects it was because an Austin Maxi was parked outside the Maternity Ward and that was the first thing they could think of! Andy grew up very closely with his mother, but found less comfort with his father, who, by the early 1970’s, had begun a wave of Union led terror on the newly formed car manufacturing conglomerate British Leyland. With the unions funded by nations behind the Iron Curtain, the leaders of these groups were quick to cause trouble, though Marco’s motivations were not out of money or political agenda, but more for his bitter hatred of the upper classes and a demand for equality and redistribution of wealth.

Andy did however have some good times with his father, and would often accompany him to Longbridge when Judy was working as a seamstress in a nearby clothes factory. It was here that Andy’s fascination with cars began in earnest. As the years went by, British Leyland’s financial situation continued to be crippled by unreliable products and seemingly endless strike action. Cars were only thrown together in a few hours of work between strikes, and working weeks would regularly only last 3 days. Though the newly formed Callaghan Government attempted to keep the company afloat with state funding, it was still simply haemorrhaging money.

In response, Andy decided that he would help in any way he could, and at the age of 10 volunteered to assist in car construction. Going to school in the day, Andy would work a couple of hours in the evening and on weekends helping to put as many cars together as possible, and soon had car building down to an art. During this time, he made many friends with those staff members who actually remained in work, many of whom gave him lessons about life and some of the troubles he may face in the future if not set on the right course.

Though not in desperate poverty, Andy grew up in a world of not many perks and constantly full of danger. His Tyseley hometown in the 1970’s was overrun by drug dens, radicalist anti-establishment groups, violent gangs and prostitution. Some of these influences made an imprint on Andy, who took up smoking at the age of 10 and spent a week’s wages on a set of Tattoos when he was 13. His tattoos consist of a Holy Cross on andy-alonehis lower right arm, six Xen riddles below his right elbow (these reading Peace, Love, Discipline, Honesty, Charity, Chastity), an Eagle with Japanese inscription on his right bicep, a Dragon with the St. George’s Cross on his left, and a British Leyland ‘L’ logo on his upper back. Aside from building cars in his spare time, Andy took great pleasure in building his muscles and stamina, and also took up learning the guitar, Marco initially teaching him how to play the acoustic guitar from the age of 9. He would later get an electric guitar and even a few lessons from his tattoo artist, but only at the cost of several week’s wages. Andy was also raised a devout Catholic, and while his faith has been tested multiple times in his life, he still believes in confession to cleanse his soul of sin, though he often doesn’t take the procedure seriously.

On some weekends however he would have some relief when his mother took him to visit his Uncle David at his estate in the rural Warwickshire countryside, something his father Marco resented and would not partake in. A lifelong bachelor with no children of his own, David enjoyed treating his nephew like a son, and introduced Andy to some of the finer things in life such as how to be a gentleman, gave him rides in his luxury cars and even let him partake in the Warwickshire Hunt. All of these things gave Andy something to aspire to, and he promised himself that one day he’d better his situation in life and reap the rewards of hard work and tolerance.

However, in 1979, he was struck a devastating blow when his mother was diagnosed with terminal Breast Cancer, and six months later, in early 1980, she passed away. Though Andy was able to largely recover from his loss fairly quickly, his father on the other hand did not, and the loss of his wife drove him to what Andy would later describe as ‘some kind of breakdown.’ In the same year, Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister and she mad-and-oooohbegan a wave of reform to help put down the Unions that were crippling the nation, British Leyland being no exception. With this, Marco devoted every waking moment of his life to support the Unions and fight the Thatcher Government, while Andy continued to work behind the scenes to build as many cars as possible.

In 1981, the British Leyland management was demanded by the government to fire those union leaders that caused the most trouble, supported by a vote from the workforce in general. While notable union leader Red Robbo was sacked by a 14 to 6 vote, the BL management couldn’t garner the support to fire Marco in a similar fashion. Instead, they chose to move him away from Longbridge to keep him out of their hair, thus he and, by extension, Andy were moved to the company’s most remote asset, the garage on the Isle of Hue.

At first, Andy, who was still mourning the loss of his mother, was reluctant to know anyone on the island. However, Matthew O’Rourke, son of the island’s parishioner, visited him in the garage one time and the pair hit off a strong friendship. Very soon Matt had helped Andy overcome the loss of his mother and thus he began to open up, as well as assist him when it came to introducing himself to the rest of the island’s residents, striking up a bond with everyone he met. However, as Andy grew closer to the islanders, and-with-a-bookhe grew further from his father, who spent a majority of his days organising strikes on the phone with his fellow unionists back in Birmingham.

Things eventually came to a head in February 1982, when Andy returned from the garage to find their baggage dumped out in the snow. Marco had decided to defy the BL superiors and was planning to move back to Birmingham and continue their struggle. This infuriated Andy, and with years of pent up rage in his heart, he unleashed a barrage of anger and resentment against his father, declaring that the unions had lost and that no one wanted to fight their fatuous battle any more. Though his tirade was passionate, the relationship between himself and his father had deteriorated so much that Marco simply got in the car and drove away, leaving Andy in the snow. With no one left to help him, Andy simply lit a cigarette, took a seat on his car and hoped he’d freeze to death and end his misery. However, Matt, who had noticed his father’s departure, came to find out what was going on. On the edge of tears and suicidal, Andy explained what had happened, but Matt extended a comforting hand to his grief-ridden friend, which Andy took, embracing him and sobbing his heart out. With this new dilemma, the islanders came together to help find a resolution, meeting in the church that very evening to discuss what was to be done. It was eventually decided that the landlady, Renee Pattinson, would reduce the rent on his house in exchange for Andy becoming the island’s handyman, helping to solve practical problems and fix technical issues whenever needed. Seeing this as a dream situation compared to his previous life, Andy agreed without hesitation.

In 1984, Andy took a short holiday back to Warwickshire to visit his Uncle David, who was a-man-and-his-camargue-in-the-early-mornnow 48. While there, David told Andy that he was starting to feel his age, and that he’d no longer be able to drive the luxury cars he’d gathered throughout his life. As a gift for his 17th Birthday, he offered Andy his Roland Chamois, an extremely expensive, handbuilt luxury car. Andy was thrilled, and after organising insurance, he drove it back north to Scotland overnight and brought it to Hue on the morning Ferry without anyone else seeing it. Once home, he hid it under a tarp to keep it away from the harsh Scottish elements, though he would continually maintain and run the car weekly to make sure it was still in pristine condition both inside and out.

Development

Andy’s development as a character stemmed not just from being a love interest for Maddie, but because I wanted to include my love of cars into the story as well. If you know me personally, I’m a complete Petrolhead! I love all cars, but my particularly favourite era for cars was from 1970 to 2000. Indeed, the 1970’s and 80’s was mired in some truly awful builds like the Morris Marina and the Cadillac Cimarron, but at the same time it did give us some absolutely fantastic machines which are among my fave’s, such as the Rolls Royce Camargue, the original Range Rover and the Leyland Princess. As such, I wanted to create a way for me to be able to draw all my favourite cars of yesteryear, but have them connect to the story.

mad asks noBut aside from being just a boring love interest, I did want to give Andy some other attributes that developed him more as a friend earlier in the story, and gradually develop him into a love interest later. For example, Maddie and Andy don’t immediately hit-it-off, the pair appreciate each other’s company, and as Maddie points out some of the flaws of his personality and introduces him to some of her own lifestyle, he tries to better himself because of this, such as quitting smoking. But that doesn’t mean Andy is a bad egg all over. As I mentioned, his personality is largely based off my own, kind, friendly, somewhat sarcastic but overall a genuine character who respects those around him and will have their back when they need him.

Oddly enough, Andy’s design of hair, tatoos and slightly muscular body (not too muscular, no Arnie’s here!) are based off of lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter of the Goo Goo Dolls, John Rzeznik, from around the time he wrote Iris in about 1998 (so about 33 years old for him). I really admire John Rzeznik, he’s someone who’s faced adversity all through his life, but has pulled through and made a truly great person of himself rather than turning to a dark road like so many others. He’s an excellent songwriter, a fantastic singer and a pretty cool dude!Andy in confessional

Andy’s backstory is not based off mine, in fact it’s not based off of anyone I know. The backstory of Andy comes from three factors; my love of cars, my Mum’s roots in the West Midlands, and including a bit of British history to give a bit of a lesson on the social situation of the UK in the early 1980’s. My Mum’s side of my family is from Walsall north of Birmingham, a city which was, in the past, Britain’s Motown. Pretty much every single car manufacturer in the UK had their headquarters in the West Midlands; Austin at Longbridge, Morris in Oxford, Triumph at Canley, Rover at Solihull and Jaguar in Coventry. So, as a kind dedication to my Mum, and for my love of old British cars, I basically covered two problems with one solution.

As for his abandonment and the loss of his mother to cancer, this was a completely original construct. Though some may find it a touch jarring that Andy’s dad would abandon him as he does in the story, it’s amazing what some people will do to justify an ideology, if anything, abandonment is comparatively light when you consider some of the more serious consequences family members can incur because of differing ideas. But I felt that Andy’s emotional background, his loneliness, his hidden despair, it’s basically things he works against to keep himself on a moral track. He’s miserable inside, but he won’t let it affect his outward appearance, he’s alone, but he won’t make himself antisocial, he’s bitter, angry and feels like he’s been wronged, but he won’t let that make him a terrible person. 🙂