The story of my childhood is foremost a personal project. It may provide insights into my character and formative experiences, which have made my work on sexuality possible. It may also help the reader understand what has motivated me to work so hard and for so little reward in such a taboo area of the human experience.
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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 have concluded that we all have different challenges. We are dealt a hand at the beginning and then it’s about how we play out 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 ever apparently 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 is not 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. We are all so different. Love is more about what we give, than what we receive.
Talents and abilities are important but the over-riding factor in success must be our personal drive or motivation. Success in book-learning makes a person an academic. True intelligence encompasses our ability to make the most of our personal talents, to achieve personal contentment and to add value to the lives of those around us. Over the years, I have drawn great comfort from one of my father’s sayings “Don’t let the buggers get you down!” Whenever I feel demoralised, I remember that saying. It is so easy to criticise and so 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. However, 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 fight for good over evil. I don’t see faith as an excuse for complacent self-righteousness. So often our greatest weaknesses are silence, apathy and inaction.
I like vegetarian food. I prefer to avoid killing animals but also a vegetarian diet helps me keep in shape. I accept that I am fortunate 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 their disregard for the world we live in. If we are to preserve our world for future generations, rather than wasting our natural resources, we need to think more carefully about how we take care of our planet.
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 Upper Second Honours degree (Maths) from Southampton University and I qualified as a Chartered Accountant (FCA). I worked as a finance manager in hi-tech companies for over 25 years. Recently I have also taught English as a foreign language.
Excerpt from Jane’s book A Hand Full of Cards (2020)