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My personal story

The story of my childhood is foremost a personal project. But it provides insights into my character and formative experiences, which may help to explain my motivation to work so hard and for so little reward in such a taboo area of the human experience.

In common with most people living in developed countries today, I grew up with all the essentials. The basics of survival (food, shelter and safety) were never a concern. I had good health and all my faculties. I was not abused physically or emotionally. Yet I felt deprived. Reconciling how we feel about our childhood is part of accepting our adult selves. We often assume that others had an easier start in life. But we rarely look at the whole picture. I concluded that we all have different challenges. We are dealt a hand at the beginning and then it’s about how we play our cards.

I always knew my family was unconventional. No one ever explained why I could not live with my parents. I resented living with adults who were employed to look after me. So, although I was privately educated from a young age, I never considered myself to be privileged. My parents gave me little in terms of material possessions and domestic stability but they made me feel loved. For all their faults, as respectable citizens and their failings as responsible parents, Jo and Trevor had personal warmth. Uninhibited in exploring life’s opportunities, they lived life without worrying about what other people thought of them.

Consequently, I grew up looking for the positives in people. I don’t believe in making excuses but I accept that life has its grey areas. It isn’t always squeaky clean. I was influenced by my love for my parents as well as by the social issues raised by the way in which they lived their lives. Other adults often treated us, as if we children were accountable for the misdeeds of our parents (their lifestyles and their choices that society disapproved of).

Later I concluded that my parents struggled to cope with all the challenges that life threw at them. I was very fond of them and, loving my parents, helped me realise that morality should be less about judging others and more about accepting people for who they are. Certainly, love is more about giving than receiving.

I have always enjoyed good food and I prefer to eat vegetarian food. Of course, I’m soppy about animals but I have also found that a vegetarian diet helps me keep in shape. I accept that I am very lucky to live in an affluent society where we can worry about moral issues. But I am often shocked by people’s lack of compassion and the disregard for the world we live in. If we are to preserve our world for the future, we need to think more carefully about how we are wasting our natural resources.

Talents and abilities are one thing but the over-riding factor in success must be our personal drive. Success in book-learning makes a person an academic. True intelligence encompasses our ability to exploit our personal talents, to achieve personal contentment and to add value to the lives of those around us. My father used to say: “Don’t let the buggers get you down!”, which I have drawn great comfort from over the years. It is so easy to criticise and few people think to offer any praise. If you want to succeed then don’t listen to anyone telling you it’s not possible.

I respect other people’s religious beliefs and envy anyone who is comforted by the belief in a God of any religion. Perhaps because I had to be self-reliant during my childhood, I cannot believe in a super-being who oversees our earthly exploits. I do believe in the power of the human spirit and in that sense, I believe that God is the power within each of us to stand up for good over evil. I don’t see faith as an excuse for complacent self-righteousness. So often our greatest weaknesses are apathy and inaction.

I have been married for over 30 years and I have three daughters. My hobbies include travel, languages, walking, cinema, history and cosmology. I have an honours degree in Mathematics and I qualified as a Chartered Accountant (FCA). I worked in hi-tech companies as a full-time finance manager for 25 years. Recently I have been teaching English abroad to complement my writing.