Earlier in the series I wrote about seeking and returning, about how this had had a profound effect on my life. Looking back I can see the pattern of a journey in my life, a journey of profound importance to my life now and my life moving forward from here. Over the last few posts I am going to trace the journey and draw the lessons.
I was brought up in a normal middle class family in a comfortable suburb in the North of England. My family were Scottish although I was born a Sassenach (English to the Scots). My father was an accountant and company director with a large company and my mother was a mother and housewife. These were traditional roles in this period soon after the Second World War.
My parents had wide outside interests and a supportive circle of friends. They were involved in Scottish activities through the Caledonian Society. They even taught Scottish Country Dancing. While there were occasional arguments they were a happy couple who had a fulfilling life.
I was the youngest of three brothers and felt the effect of the masculine challenge from them and my father. My father was loving but dominant in his nature. That element made him a successful man, but sometimes a difficult man to live with. My brothers and I learned that need for dominance from him. This resulted in a challenging atmosphere for me—the youngest.
I felt little connection in my home life and buried myself in my own activities, such as the Boy Scouts. I felt lonely much of the time, riding my bicycle and pretending it was alright not to have friends. I remember once attempting to run away from home with a rucksack containing monopoly money and a bag of sugar! I must have got no further than about a mile from home.
There was always this sense of seeking, of there being something bigger that I could hang on to in my life. I tried to read the bible and listen to radio evangelists but they only feed the desire rather than answered the questions.
I went to a great school, Manchester Grammar School, but did not excel there despite my abilities. They were not to come out until much later in my life. I failed to get a place at university, a rare thing for an MGS pupil. This was the late sixties and there was not the plethora of universities that exist today.
My father was concerned about what I was going to do with my life and talked to me about helping me find work in accountancy or banking. I screamed inside my head at the thought of sitting in an office doing what my father did. Looking back I can see the rising of rebellion against my parents and my comfortable home life.
I had to do something to avoid this–hanging round at home doing some dead-end job was just not an option.
I thought about the thing I enjoyed doing at school—working with the Dramatic Society as stage crew or productions. I remember being annoyed when they said I could not work on the production of Hamlet because I was doing my final exams. Perhaps this was where I could go.
I wrote a couple of letters off to theatres asking for a job doing anything. The first letter brought a reply offering me a job. I did not care what the job was, it was work, it was adventure and it was out.
I shocked my parents when I went downstairs one evening and told them I was off to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. I was going to work in the professional theatre. They were also impressed and did not stand in my way.
With no idea of what lay ahead I left home at the age of eighteen and started my life. I faced the fear of the unknown, and discovered sexual awakening, drugs and a way out of the suburbs.