How can one ever be sure what it was like to start life? Myimage of what it was like to be young is indelibly altered by hearing talesfrom my long-dead parents and from my brothers, by looking again and again atthose old photos, which showed me as a curly browned haired, happy child, teethbared in what I thought was the smile required for the camera and its expensivephotographs. I still can’t force a photogenic smile today. If I try I look morelike a tortoise, I’m told.
So be it. I was born on 29thJuly 1948, on my eldest brother Robin’ssecond birthday (yes, Jeremy came in-between, only ten months before me), atthe West Middlesex Hospital. That made us a self-contained gang, though we werenever quite so, but at least a group whose members always had someone to playwith. We lived in Hounslow, at 62 Bulstrode Avenue. I walked along the street afew years ago, and couldn’t believe how the house had shrunk and changedcolour.
Rationing was still in force. Trolleybuses were common. Birthdays andChristmases, despite my mother, and therefore technically me, being Jewish, werejoys, especially with the wider family. I’m not sure when a little childbecomes conscious of its immediate and more distant family, but at some stage Ibecame aware of the family around me, the existence of a parallel Stone familynearby, in Teddington, my father’s younger brother Ralph, my Aunt Gillian andeventually a brood of five to equal ours, with our Grandmother Nana living inan annex. Gillian and Ralph are dear to me, the last of their generation.Gillian was the daughter of Gilbert Sale, who had been my mother’s manager inthe Palestine Forestry Commission. She was introduced to Ralph by my parents,always matchmakers, and love took its course. Gillian was a second mother for awhile, especially to Jeremy, caught in the middle of the elder three.
Nana was a figure of ultimate distinction in my young eyes, silver haired,Roman-nosed, broken-wristed, with a classic English accent, slightly upperclass but not drawling, smooth delivery of interesting words, loving and fullof interesting facts. She had divorced in the 1930s, my grandfather ending up aprisoner at Singapore before his successful life in Australia, including a newwife and son, giving us half-cousins, including my father’s namesake Brian.
Brian. We called him Brian. I can’t remember ever calling him anything else.The polar opposite of Mummy, Yocheved in Hebrew – meaning God’s glory, Yvettein French from her education in Jerusalem’s Alliance Française. Brian, one legblown off when his tank brewed up in the Western Desert, minor war hero with aMilitary Cross for capturing several Germans, so we were told, but I can’tremember by whom, the other leg filled with shrapnel, went to then Palestine towork as a civil servant and journalist, met my mother, a renegade from anorthodox Jewish family, who fell in love with the broad-shouldered, smiling,blond, blue eyed, swaggering hero, and married him in the Rabbinate inJerusalem, him learning his few Hebrew words required to accept her as hiswife. “You are hereby consecrated to me by the law of Moses and Israel”.Stamping on the glass under the cloth must have been fun. Honeymoon in Cypruswas followed by her pregnancy and the premature birth of Robin, said to havebeen triggered by the blowing up of the King David Hotel, by the Jewishresistance organisation, Irgun, on July 22nd, 1946. The hotel wasthe headquarters of the British government of Palestine and more importantlythe intelligence section which focused on the Irgun and other Jewish militaryorganisations. My parents lost friends in the attack, and it was said to havetriggered Robin’s premature birth a week later. They came to England soonafter, Robin in a wooden orange box.
It took me some time to become conscious of this heritage. We were brought upin an agnostic household, and it was only some time after we moved to Brightonwhen I was five that I started to go to Reform Synagogue and Sunday school, thelatter to learn Hebrew. Other parts of my heritage dawned on me even later,such as that of my father’s late elder brother Philip’s role as a bomber pilot,dying when shot down over the Netherlands, a life that only meant something tome when I read his diaries in this century. My Israel heritage becamemeaningful when I first visited after my operation, in 1975. Robin had beenmuch more forward, working on Kibbutz Ma’ayan Zvi between school and universityin 1963, and returning to help in the June War of 1967.
Hounslow in the early 1950s was a product of the inter-war years, concreteoffices and shops, red-brick housing terraces, and above all red London buses.For decades afterwards, when living away from London, the sight of a red Londonbus lifted my heart. But memories of that time are patchy – finding with Jeremyan Old English Sheepdog dead by the Great West Road, a trickle of blood fromits lips, and not knowing what to do, seeing the meteorite in Lampton Park, mybrother Oren arriving in a home birth, me being sleepy on Brian’s shoulders atthe coronation fireworks by the Thames, and the London taxi in which heconverted the front luggage space by installing a seat and a wooden door – noconstruction and us, or health and safety rules then! BYR138 was theregistration.
My parents friends that stayed beyond this era – and therefore whom I remember- included John and Shirley Cain – he a producer with the BBC, she an actresswhose beauty and charm entranced us. I remember too John’s brother Michael, whoif I remember correctly had a thalidomide child. Their mother, whom we knew asMrs Cain, had apparently had a colostomy. My parents later told me that shedealt with it by a primitive kind of nappy – more of this later!
One acquisition from this period was our tortoise, Terry, who stayed with usfor many years until he died during hibernation one year.
More detailed memories belong to Brighton, where we lived from when I was fiveto eleven, and then from fifteen onwards. I finally left Brighton aftercompleting my doctoral work in 1972 – it took me another three years to get thedegree. So the memories of place may date from any time, so I cannot be surethat I am remembering places from when I was five or twenty four.
Brian was a schoolteacher. He moved from Hounslow’s Isleworth GrammarSchool to Brighton’s Varndean Boys Grammar School, to head the EnglishDepartment, and so began our love affair with Brighton.
My memories of the five years between our move to Brighton and the move toLoughborough, where Brian went to head the English Department in one of thecountry’s top teacher training colleges, and one of the top three sportingcolleges in the country, jostle with each other for a place on this page. Bythe time we got to Brighton in 1954 we were four boys, and by New Year’s Day of1957 we were joined by our sister Miriam, a curly-haired lisping blonde whosefive male adorers thoroughly spoiled her.
Apart from the odd brush with school teachers for being a bit rumbustious – forexample for knocking girls down in the playground after they had asked for ourgame Hot Rice – in which we had to throw a rubber or tennis ball to hit otherplayers on the legs, upon which they changed sides, I was a good if slightlytalkative schoolchild., but no match for a bully named Barry who wastransferred from the Whitehawk area of Brighton – one of its roughest.
Brighton was a great place in which to grow up. The sea and beach were the mainattraction, but closely followed by the many parks. Blaker’s Park was our localone, the giant Preston Park with its cricket pitch and velodrome quite near,with the Rockery, modelled on the Willow Pattern plate. The Downs surroundedthe town, and we would often cycle to Ditchling Beacon or further afield. Wewould often go to the Devil’s Dyke, loving running down its steep sides, onlyto be faced with the gruelling walk back up. Beachy Head was also a favourite,and my mother would scream with alarm as the four of us milled about near thecliff edge, encouraged by Brian. I suppose my love of green rolling hillsstarted here.
Brighton was also the period of the “Stratford Camps”. Brian would take a largegroup of Varndean boys camping to see the Royal Shakespeare Company at itsprime, with the theatrical knights – Olivier, Richardson, Gielgud and others –commanding the rapture of their audiences and occasionally forcing me to keepmy eyes open as we sat in the cheap seats high and at the back. Once we had ano-seat ticket, and I fell asleep on the stairs of the aisle. But I rememberthe atmosphere and the sounds, and it was certainly not an experience that putme off literature as it might have done. The camps were the thing, though.Imagine being spoiled by thirty or forty boys ten or more years older. Iremember one arrival was in the rain, and hulky sixth formers donned theirbathing costumes to put up the tents. We had acquired a new Bedford Dormobile,SCD 260. The London taxi was donated to the school for the boys to dismantle.There was a special tent that covered the back of the Bedford so that we werein relative civilisation. The camp fires every night, the songs, the comfortfood of soup, baked beans and sausages, the tinned fruit along with (yum!)evaporated milk, tea with condensed milk, enormous catering tins of jam muchloved by the wasps when they were empty, created in me an enduring love forcomfort (junk?) food. Rationing was over and we could let rip. We camped on SirFordham Flower’s land – he of Flower’s Ales. His daughters, much older than us,were accomplished horsewomen (though they were teenage girls in fact) and weboys were in awe of them. They encouraged us to roll in the hay, which meantonly jumping off high-stacked bales onto lower bales, sadly. We swam in thethen-clean River Avon. We looked forward to Stratford every year, and were sadwhen it was over.
My father’s colleague teachers were a lovely bunch. I remember “Bubble” Wylieand Seth Cain, who was very intense and to our sadness later committed suicide.Michael McGowan was a handsome, balding, Spanish looking bachelor with a bigwhite smile which made the women swoon – I think my parents ushered him throughseveral love affairs, trying to repeat their earlier matchmaking successes.
I can remember some of my schoolmates at the Downs County Primary School, whichwas just 10 minutes walk from our house (who had lifts to school in thosedays?). It was a typical British primary school, lots of red brick (but alsowith lots of local flint), three storeys, big windows in the hall. However, theones who stood out as friends were Barry Furlong, the son of Brighton’s DeputyFire Chief, who had the first television we had seen, and which converted meinto a tepid Manchester United fan after the Munich air disaster of 1958 andNick Steadman, whose mother had never married, but whom we admired because shewas so good to us, so careful to explain things to us. Nick was slightlyintroverted, quite bright and definitely interesting and interested in allthings. It was rumoured that his father had fought in the Korean War and justdisappeared – whether from life or his wife/partner. Together with Jeremy, weformed the Stone and Steadman Secret Service and went around committing minorfelonies, like stealing dust-caps from car tyres, or nicking penny chews fromshops or putting bangers under lovers’ cars in parks as November 5th approached.We were occasionally caught and in one infamous case a policeman came round toremonstrate with me. I had bent down to steal a dust-cap (we had no use forthem – it was just the challenge) and there was someone in the car, who askedme my name and address. I blurted out the truth – I never could lie.
Somehow I remember all our schoolteachers from the four years in primaryschool, though not the one year in infants – pretty, slim, Miss Batchelor whoseloss to us we mourned when she became Mrs Bredon, the tough Mrs Austin, firmMrs Parks, and smiling but really ferocious curly white haired Miss Cox –custodian of 4A and therefore the school’s reputation for getting us safelyinto grammar schools. I remember meeting Miss Cox later on and couldn’t believehow small she was. She, like Mrs Parks, had towered over us with her enormousbust when we were young.
I loved maths and logical subjects but couldn’t stand art. I was once forced tostay in to complete a painting when I finished off half the page by justpainting the bottom half green for grass and the top half blue for sky. I wasforced to put figures and trees into it.
We were regulars at Rabbi Rosenblum’s Reform Synagogue in Holland Road. I hadnever been to an Orthodox synagogue – that was much later – so didn’tappreciate the relaxed atmosphere, the cake and orange squash after theservice. The Rabbi’s beautiful tenor voice sung out much of the service. I wentto the Sunday School as well, learning rudimentary Hebrew, enough of afoundation for much later. I learned the basic prayers, parrot fashion, notunderstanding their meaning. An additional complication was that I was a memberof the Cubs at Stanford Avenue Methodist Church at the end of the road where welived (Southdown Avenue), and often went to church services in my uniform. Nowonder I became confused and then an atheist. By the time we left Brighton,Jeremy and I were joint Senior Sixers, though we were not badge-collectingfanatics.
Jeremy and I fell under the influence of a former Christian missionary, MadameMargaret Field, who lived not far from us in Florence Road. I don’t mean thatshe tried to convert us, but she was just so good to us, giving us some of herIndian metal artefacts (elephants, carts drawn by cows), and entertaining uswith short tales of her life in India. Another older lady who influenced us in a strange way was our next doorneighbour, Miss Sands. I am not sure whether she liked us, but occasionally shewould throw over the wall some of the most beautifully illustrated books aboutthe British Army in the Boer and First World Wars. The full page, full colour portraitsof the generals were particularly striking. One name that stuck in my head wasSir Bindon Blood!
Somehow we acquired an old 78 rpm full size gramophone – was it from MissSands? I can’t remember. The Inkspots and their Java Jive sticks in my memory.
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin’ and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops! Mr. Moto, I’m a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot and I’ll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
And I cut a rug till I’m snug in a jug
A slice of onion and a raw one, draw one.
Waiter, waiter, percolator!
and so on.
Nymphs and Shepherds, the Warsaw Concerto and a host of other classical pieceshalf-surface from these times.
We still often saw the Teddington Stones – they were after all only a couple ofhours away in the days before the motorway. They visited us and we them. Nanaoften came to stay. I remember one awfully foggy day – Gatwick Airport is stillfamous for its fogs, which have geographical, not manmade causes – my fatherdriving up the middle of the dual carriageway with almost no visibility and nofear of going into the back of something, as there were so few cars. Most peopletravelled by bus and train, and Brighton still had its trolleybuses, which wereideal for Brighton’s steep hills, though occasionally they would lose theircontact with the wires and we would have to wait until men came along to pushthe trolley arms up to the wires. Their acceleration was savage, and many anold dear – for Brighton was already a retirement haven – nearly lost theirfooting as the bus jerked away from a stop. Alas, they are gone.
I don’t remember the weather, only the stormy days when we would go down to thesea and along the groynes to enjoy the smashing of the waves against theirwalls or against the big pebbles on the beach, with us trying in vain to dodgethe resulting spray. To me, this first period in Brighton, and the time in Loughborough,were perpetually sunny in my mind, even though there were a few accidents, likecoming off my bike after being forced into the kerb by a bus – it was probablymy fault for overtaking on the inside, but I don’t think danger meant anythingto us, just a few cuts and bruises. I remember swimming in the North Road bathsand occasionally in the salty King Alfred’s baths – much farther and moreexpensive.
I can’t recall much about our holidays, except that once we went in a Bristolfreighter – Dormobile and all – from Lydd to Le Touquet. This might have beenfor our holiday to Switzerland, where we stayed in Vevey, near Lake Geneva. Iremember swimming out into the lake and being scared by weeds pulling me down,being stung on the foot by a bee that I had trodden on while walking on a lawnby the lake, and the stern, tall, smiling stationmaster who warned us whentrains were coming – we loved to watch the big Swiss electric locomotives.
The other holiday I remember was at Pwllheli in Wales. The farmer (Mr Evans?)on whose land we were camping watered down the milk he sold us, and I rememberthe farmer’s son breaking a chicken’s neck and the chicken running around thefarmyard for some time with its head crazily flopping to one side – theoriginal headless chicken.
I was very prone to sore throats and ear infections – I sometimes wonderwhether all the antibiotics I took so early led to problems later on. I had mytonsils out when I was 10, I think – I will never forget the luscious ice creamthat we were given to soothe our throats after the operation, or coming homeand coughing up a slug-like clot of blood and being very alarmed.
And then came the 11-plus that was to doom or promote us educationally. We didlots of practice tests at school, and my father later told me I had come thirdin all of Brighton. It meant nothing to me.
I had a girl friend, Diane Gillies. I was 10, she was 9. She was the daughter of a financial advisor, and was from my school, the Down’s Country Primary. Her sister Susanwas in our form, Diane a year younger. She was very pretty (of course!), fair, slightly freckled if I remember right, but most of all it was her nose, her smile and laugh and the way her eyes crinkled when she did that attracted me. I was just beginning to be consciousthat girls were nice, particularly girls like Diane. I wonder what it is that makes one like a “type”. I liked both theGillies sisters and cried bitterly when we left Brighton. Curiously enough, I encountered Susan with her mother ten or so years later at the Theatre Royal, when I was with Carrie. I wished Diane had been there. I still remember calling on Diane, seeing the sign for her father’s dentist surgery outside – was it Roy M Gillies? It turns out that I was completely wrong. I learnt later on that he was a financial adviser. Ah well, memory plays tricks, and after all, they are two occupations designed to preserve you and deal with pain!
1959 saw us travelling up the A23, then the A6, to Loughborough, where my father had taken a post as Head of the English Department, at the College of Education, more used to turning out start sports teachers than drama specialists. I wasdistraught, leaving my first ever girlfriend, Diane. We wrote to each other for a bit. I remember the handwriting still. I don’t remember when the writing stopped, now even how long we had been friends back in Brighton, but I am sure it was because Loughborough Grammar School now beckoned, with all the excitement of being in a big school, and tough exams in the first year to determine whether one would go into the fast stream and O Levels in four years (I did). Still, a gap was left in my life that wasn’t truly filled until I married.
Loughborough may beto some a forgotten town of the East Midlands, but to a young boy it was adifferent kind of heaven. It was canal and river country, in contrast toSussex, where most rain sunk into the chalky soil. The Grand Union Canal, theRiver Soar and the mighty River Trent, saw us walking by their sides or canoeing along them. Robin hadthe canoe, famous because someone once took an air-gun pot-shot at him in it onthe canal. The offender was prosecuted.
Charnwood Forest was the site of many bike rides and rambles, its rocky graniteoutcrops surrounded by ferns and pine woods, and lower down the rich arablefields, contrasting with the sheep-filled down-land of Brighton. I became across-country runner, running for the school, with many triumphs completed by aflying run down from Charnwood to the finishing line. This was a rugby school,perhaps why I preferred cross-country, and in the summer athletics beckonedrather than cricket. I was never a ball game person, much though I lovewatching them on television today.
Our massive Edwardian (I think) house, Ivydene, 3 Victoria Street, wasivy-covered until Brian was advised to pull it down because it was damaging thebrickwork. The garden was an orchard until sold off to build two houses, andthe crumbling greenhouse hosted a vine. It had to be pulled down, itssubstitute being a characterless lean-to which we called the “shezam”, becauseMiriam or Oren referred to it as a “she’s am”. But we still had a largestone-walled pond with goldfish. My father often referred to Loughborough asLowbrow – he was always a bit of an intellectual elitist. To bring in moremoney, we lost our individual bedrooms, and Brian rented out a wing of thehouse to various tenants, the most colourful being Bahamians, but the one whohad the most impact on me was young lecturer from the College of Education, David Clegg, from Sheffield,simply because one day he took me for a drive over the Peak District to see hismother, and I still remember the joy of swooping down a lane in his Land Rover,the radio blaring out Johnny Tillotson singing Poetry in Motion, a song I haveloved ever since for this memory. We even took in paying guests. I remember asports tutor, Dicky Underwood, a fanatical chewer, whose chomping amazed us atmeals. I also remember a gentle Stanley Evernden, whose adopted young son, withsticking out ears, was greeted by Oren telling his parents that he thoughttheir son looked like a monkey.
The house also had a garage, looking out onto the street behind us, filled withmean terraced houses. Above it were two rooms. There was no heating, so we usedthem as workshops. I started to experiment with chemistry, making explosivesand dangerous gases. I still cringe at the memory of making some chlorine andencouraging the daughter of one of Brian’s old friends to smell it carefully.She breather deeply and coughed all day. I learned later that she had died ofleukaemia – she was already weak and her illness known.
Our house was just five minutes from the school, whose Burton Walks – namedafter the founder Thomas Burton – continued Victoria Street but the other sideof a barrier. . The school was a direct-grant school. It was private. Statepupils like us were funded by grants. I had no idea what that meant, exceptthat we were regarded as toffs, along with Loughborough High School girls,compared to pupils from Loughborough College School, attached to where Brianworked, a pure state grammar school, or (worse still), the Secondary ModernSchools of Limehurst -girls and Garendon – boys, for those who “failed” the 11plus examination. As we grew older the Limehurst girls would taunt us forwearing shorts until we were in the 5th year. Or in my case, the 4thyear, because Loughborough still used the “Remove” system, made famous byBilly Bunter stories. We began “big school” at the age of 11, in the third form– the first and second being for younger boys in Preparatory School. Half waythrough the third form, we were examined. The top third were hived off into aclass that would take four years to take Ordinary Levels. I was in this group,which meant that being a July child and so young for my year, I would takethese exams just before I was 15. Jeremy did not get into this group. After thefourth year, I went into Remove A and then the Fifth form, he into Lower RemoveB, Upper Remove B and then the Fifth, meaning that he was a year behind hisbrother who was ten months younger than him. I never asked him later what hefelt about it – typical me.
When my hormones began to flow, I became naughty. Not seriously so, just fullof beans and myself in class, talking too much, annoying our excellent teacherswhom I now greatly respect. I was dared by my classmates to greet the artmaster using the dialect greeting and his first name, “Ay oop Len.” I did. Heslapped me straight into detention, but with a smile. He must have known it wasa dare. Our French teacher Mr Gartside was young and irascible, so I became ahero by putting a book down my trousers and deliberately inciting him toslipper me, which he did. Hero again! My reports at the end of each term werecovered with red underlinings by the head-teacher, whom my father knew, as theywere members of the local educational establishment. The message “Could dobetter” was everywhere, and in the end I did, revising flat out in the finalterm to get good results.
I became a train spotter. I had a big train set, but the real thing excited memore. Loughborough was at the intersection of two railways from London, the oldLondon, Midland and Scottish line from St Pancras to Nottingham, Derby,Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds and many other northern towns, and then toScotland and the old Grand Central Line from Marylebone to Nottingham andLeeds.. They were by then both drab British Railways, but these were the lastdays of steam, so the locomotives were still magnificent. The line from StPancras had four tracks, two passenger, two freight. The West Coast main line,the old London and North Western Railway, was being electrified, so manyexpresses came through Loughborough, such as the Thames Clyde Express toGlasgow, which used the now-closed Dove Holes tunnel in the Peak District. Wegrammar school train spotters sat in the waste land at the intersection of thelines, “copping” the steam locomotives, ranging from express Jubilees andPatriot classes, the Black 5s and 8-freights, the 92000 series and otherlocomotives built since nationalisation, to old Duck-6s from the First WorldWar (so called because their wheel format was 0-6-0 i.e. no front or rear undriven axles, just 3 axles – 6 wheels – connected to the cylinders). I still remember all these names. We also “copped” increasingly frequentdiesel railcars, the big diesel-electric locomotives, particularly Peak classand D200-ers, and the fabulous diesel-electric Midland Pullman to Manchester. Abonus – a whole series of diesel electric locomotives were being built at theBrush engineering works in Loughborough under our noses. We could “cop” theseBrush diesels just by looking through the factory windows. Their numbers werechalked on them when they were still only painted in red lead. With my trainspotter friends, we travelled all over the country to visit engine sheds andlines – Rugby to see the West Coast main line, Grantham the East Coast line,the streamlined locomotives and the thundering Deltic diesel prototype. Ittaught me much about our geography. When I studied transport economics atuniversity, my rail knowledge bore fruit.
The head English teacher at Loughborough was known as Ted Taylor. He carriedout what we called Ted Taylor’s Tours – walking holidays in the North. My firstwas a day trip to the Peak District, and then a holiday in the Yorkshire Dalesand one in the Lake District. We youth-hostelled. These holidays confirmed mylove of striding alone or with friends over damp, wind-swept moors, divided bygranite or millstone grit dry-stone walls, accompanied by the lament of thecurlew, the constant baaing of sheep and the sweet smells of heather, moorgrass, combined with the acrid smell of peat. I think it as here that Ideveloped my lack of concern about getting wet, whether in the rain or becausethe path had turned into a stream.
My Jewish side went into retreat in Loughborough. There was no synagogue,though another Jew in the town co-operated by sending me with his daughters toHebrew Sunday School in Nottingham. Instead, I moved towards being a teenager.I became a true teenager in my final term at Loughborough, in the summer of1963. My father became head of a more prestigious English department, atBrighton College of Education, and returned in the spring of that year, leavingme to board for a term and finish my exams. I took to it like a duck to water.One of my dormitory colleagues brought in records – not something I couldafford. I learned to love Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck and then – blowing them allaway – the Beatles with Please Please Me.
The Northern walking holidays produced a triumph of organisation for me. Insummer 1963, after I had finished my O levels, I organised a walking tour forthe three elder brothers and my good friend Anthony Acton, across Scotland, towhere we would meet with my father who was teaching summer school in Aberdeen.I wrote to all the Youth Hostels, enclosing the Postal Orders for bookings, andwe walked from Loch Lomond to Aviemore, then taking the train to Inverness andbus to Aberdeen. I remember being in a clinch with a Glaswegian girl in onehostel, but not being sure what to do next – I was only 14.
The return to Brighton was to see me becoming in some ways a young adult, butalso to experience disasters with my health.
Brighton Sixth Form 1963-1966
I remember standing in a room with a collection of other new boys. At thestart of the sixth form, Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School, like manyothers, took in more boys, whether like me movers from different towns, thosewho were dissatisfied with their existing schools, refugees from private schoolfees, and the very few who were lucky enough to be “promoted” from secondarymoderns or the few technical schools that still existed. I had no idea what tochoose for A levels. I knew I wanted to do French and Maths, but was stuck fora third subject. Robin said “Do Economics, and Public Affairs, it’s easy.” So Idid. I fared less well in my exams for this, but it became my discipline. Somuch for random decisions. I was assigned to 6thArts under “Bill”Bones, the French teacher. Everyone is the class seemed much more mature than Iwas, as they were on average a year or two older than me. This toldparticularly in Economics and Public Affairs, where some experience andjudgement were required. However, my brother opened the door of politicaleconomy to me, and several boys from this and the upper sixth went to theWorker’s Education Association evening classes in Economics, run by Dr HenryCollins, a pipe-smoking wandering don. This was true education. French I loved andspoke fluently, Maths was a big leap from O level, but I eventually got thehang of it, although the maths of circular motion and other physics was tough,though the many who were studying physics or “Double Maths and Physics” foundit easy.
The work to school was one of our joys. It took 20 or so minutes, down PrestonDrove, across London Road, up the Droveway and then Miller’s Road, afterpassing under the narrow bridge under the main railway line to London, and thenturning left along Dyke Road. We generally picked up a few schoolmates on theway. The school was less “posh” than Loughborough, as the posh boys school wasBrighton College, a Private School, but we were twinned with the Brighton HighSchool for Girls, a private school. I remember the embarrassing ballroomdancing lessons, for which I had a particularly busty partner.
The school was vibrant, full of sports and culture. It was a football school,and our sports masters were Mike Smith (who went on to manage the Welshfootball team) and Mike Yaxley, who went on to manage Brighton and Hove Albion.I continued with my cross-country running until I fell ill. The annual Gilbertand Sullivan opera was a great event, drawing in pupils of all ages andtalents. The year when Buttercup’s voice broke was a disaster.
As recent arrivals, we Stones were to some extent outsiders, and there was adefinite hint of freemasonry in the school – it had a lodge – which determinedwho became prefects. Gregarious as ever, I made many friends very quickly, andlater became Chair of the Literary and Debating Society and of the Sixth FormCommon Room, a beautiful new building where we could exclude ourselves from theyounger rabble.
To be young in 1960s Brighton was a privilege. The 1960s music revolution wasin full swing, and we revelled in it. I was not musical, but Jeremy (piano) andRobin (guitar) were, and so I took up the drums, but I wasn’t really that good– I had a good sense of rhythm but I didn’t have the skills. Nonetheless weeventually played in public later when at university. Parties were many,providing lots of opportunities for slight intoxication and groping girls. Weblagged our way into pubs – we somehow looked older, and always enjoyed thelate night fish and chips when walking home from parties or pubs. It only tookabout half an hour from the centre to our house at 18 Harrington Villas.
There was a more serious side, of course – like the long evenings spent playingbridge with Alan Jackson, Mick Hickman, John Trory and others, whose names Inearly remember – when they come to me I’ll update this piece.
My room faced the back garden, the tree-lined Surrenden Road, St Mary’s RomanCatholic Church, and the allotments beside it. It was quite a wide vista, onewhich I treasured given the amount of time I would spend in my bedroom later.The house had five bedrooms, so we each had our own. Jeremy’s was the musicroom downstairs. Robin and Oren were on the top (third) floor, and that’s wherewe made the loudest music.
Half way through the spring term, I fell ill. My temperature soared and I wasdiagnosed with glandular fever. I think I had two weeks off school, and fellbehind badly, particularly in maths. I returned to school, but two or threeweeks later, I was back in bed, this time with severe, bloody diarrhoea andabdominal pains. The doctors didn’t know what to make of it, so they whisked meoff to Foredown Hospital on the Downs. It was an isolation hospital. Theysuspected dysentery, for some reason. After many tests, as I continued to wasteaway, they diagnosed ulcerative colitis, which I now know was part of the long attach of lupus on my life, fortunately not dangerous so far. I spent a total of seven and a halfweeks at Foredown. The rest of the hospital was geriatric, so once out ofisolation, I spent over five weeks in the company of old men, several of whomdied while I was on the ward. Because I was 15, I was classed as an adult,otherwise I would have been in Brighton Children’s Hospital – much morecivilised. As so many of the old men were doubly incontinent, perhaps they feltI would be in better company.
I finally made it home, returning to school and realising in the summer term,only long enough to realise how much I had fallen behind. I had not been ableto do school work, instead reading my way through the turgid prose of Lords ofthe Rings – thank goodness I got that over when I had lots of time on my hands.I still had lots of pain, and had to learn to administer cortisone enemas everyother night.
In the summer term, I started to react to all the drugs they were giving me. Mylimbs swelled up and capillaries burst everywhere. I had to wear sandals. So Iwas hospitalised again, for just over three weeks, until they stabilised me. Iremember a man’s life being saved as he recovered from pneumonia by having hislungs drained, and meeting a man called Paul who had lost his leg in a motorcycleaccident – then very common. In that hospital, the Brighton General Hospital, Idecided I would like them to call me David, my second name. It was aninteresting experience, but I reverted to Merlin when I got home. Of course, bythen I had missed so much schooling that I had to start the sixth form again,so was in the same class as Jeremy, which was genuinely good. Nick Steadmanfrom our primary school days was also in the same class. He was an interestingas ever, very into the Combined Cadet Force, but still a bit of an outsider,like us.
My holidays were constrained by my health. Brian would take us to France often,and after one of those holidays I felt I would never want to see the inside ofa church again – he just loved the history. In the end, I have become like him,as churches are the great repository of community history.
We were at last not the only Jews in the school. There were several others, andwe had our own room during the morning prayers at Assembly, trooping onto thebalcony to listen to announcements and sing the school song – Absque LaboreNihil. The tune of the first line could also be interpreted as the first lineof the song “Put on a Happy Face”, which appeared in the second line of eachsong, so we did occasionally sing it, risking detention. The family did go tothe same reform synagogue, but not with the same regularity as when we had beenin Brighton before. By this time, air travel was becoming more common, and wesaw more of our Israeli family, my Aunt Aliza, her husband Eliezer, whom shedivorced and remarried, and my cousins Dinah – who sadly died later of cervicalcancer, and Ya’akov or Kobi, who later contracted testicle cancer but survived.My mother’s cousin Ariella, a very pretty and vivacious redhead whom Brianfancied desperately, made frequent appearances too. She was married to MichaelKisch, nephew of Charles Waley-Cohen, of one of the old Jewish British militaryfamilies. Michael later ran the Israeli oilfields in captured Sinai, after theJune War of 1967. There were other visitors from the New York branch – Iremember a very pretty girl called Bonnie, or as we called her Bahnee, becauseof her accent. By now, the Teddington Stones had moved to Devon, I think,though I need to check their movements. We saw them much less, though oftenshared Christmas.
I suppose I was the most conformist of the four boys – I did genuinely loveschool and studying, but also loved a bit of a lark. Oren, on the other hand,produced an underground magazine.
I turned to chess as I could no longer play sport, and played for the schoolteam, reasonably well, though I could never bother to learn all the moves,which limited me. Still, I got house colours and school half colours for it,entitling me to wear a special tie, but by then I already had a sub-prefectstie. We sub-prefects were in a kind of limbo, picking up rotten duties andbeing ejected from the prefects room at the end of breaks with the cry “SubbiesOut!” from the Head Boy, who gained his position through freemasonry, like hisbrothers before him.
At the beginning of the Second Year Sixth, it was time to apply to university.I would normally have been considered “Oxbridge” material – Sidney SussexCollege, Cambridge was the family college, though skipped by Brian, who went toLondon University. Robin tried and failed. I was advised that I should stay athome because of my health, and though I applied to other universities, wasaccepted by Sussex, the radical new university in Brighton, known as Oxbridgeby the Sea for the number of Oxbridge staff who had come to lecture there. Iwas only required to pass two A levels at minimum grade – the strategy used byuniversities to “bag” students they wanted – rather flattering. Robin wasalready studying there.
I still revised hard for A levels, mostly on the beach though occasionally inone of the school canoes on the sea, and ended up that year looking decidedlyethnic in the school photos, something that has come back to haunt me asvarious bits of skin are cut out because of basal cell carcinoma. We elderthree fear the melanoma that killed Brian due to his history in the WesternDesert and incessant sunbathing later. Jeremy, the fairest of us, has hadmelanomas and survived.
My A level results were good, and I looked forward to university.
Brighton – Sussex University 1966-1972
I was lucky to have had a stressless summer. I can’t remember how well Iwas, as my colitis was in remission most of the time, with occasional bouts ofdiarrhoea, pain and bleeding. I know I was pretty thin. I can’t even rememberwhether we had a holiday that summer – Brighton was a perpetual holiday, withlots of parties, pubs and beach-time. I suspect we went to France to see somemore churches.
Early October 1966 saw me standing in the “Freshers queue” at SussexUniversity. I was to study economics in the School of European Studies. Veryfew students had the sense to take their joining instructions out of their“Freshers envelope”. Perhaps we wanted to display our home address. I stoodnext to Adam Weill, a tall, broad-shouldered South African. His address was, Ithink, Tel Aviv, though now I can’t be certain whether it was Jerusalem. Westruck up conversation, and saw each other around campus occasionally, thoughhe was studying in a different School. I heard later that he was one of threebrothers, and that he and one of his brothers had been killed in the Israeliarmy. He was a tank commander, and like many of his kind, would stand up in histurret to get a better view rather than sheltering within the tank. That washow he met his death, in or a short time after the June 1967 war, in Sinai. Hismother then bought a VW bus to tour Europe – a brave woman.
I remember spending much of my first year talking to other students in theEuropean Common Room. I was the only student studying Economics in that School,and I was forced to study a European Literature foundation course. I wascompletely out of sympathy with the course, and failed it twice. I couldn’t seethe point of the type of literary criticism that universities engaged in – Isee it more now. I was put on the Dean’s List – one step before more severedisciplinary action. By next year, they had allowed students like me to do theSocial Science foundation course – much more sensible.
My situation wasn’t helped by the amount of beer I drunk. Like most first yearmale students, we thought happiness and maturity was directly proportional tothe quantity of bear imbibed. I was also playing lots of music with my brothersand fooling around with girls. I did however get a distinction in thehistoriography course, mainly because Robin taught me how to do it. He said,every time the text you are required to comment on makes a statement implyingcausation, attack it, so I did. That distinction might have saved me.
I joined a group of Humanist students – by then my atheism was confirmed – andseveral of us spent a lot of time together, debating, reflecting. One was apretty girl, Carolyn Watts, freckled, auburn haired and green-eyed, with a trimfigure and a retroussé nose. She had some similarities with Diane. We spent more and more time together, eventuallygetting together, and then marrying at the end of the first year – we were bothjust 19. She was a survivor of spina bifida, with a crease at the bottom of herspine caused by the operation to close the end of the spine, and with aresulting occasional mild incontinence. We were drawn to each other partly byintellect, but I suppose the physical problems we each had created a deeperbasis for understanding. Her mother Judy was a marriage guidance counsellor,and gave us a book, Thinking about Marriage, in which she had written thededication, “Just Keep Thinking”. Well, we didn’t, and though our marriage only survived just under seven years, it broke up without rancour, but when myhealth was at its lowest. Still, it saw us both get First Class Honours degreesand launch our academic careers, so I can’t complain.
Bill Watts, Carrie’s father, was a gentleman, former submariner and thencommercial traveller, whom we saw often when he visited Brighton where he hadcustomers. He too was a Humanist, so we had a firm basis for agreement, thoughI was still a socialist then and Carrie and her family Liberals, only learninglater that they had more sense than me. Carrie told me later than when ourmarriage broke up was the only time Judy had ever seen Bill cry.
We spent many weeks of our holidays at their home in Bristol. We would take thetrain from Brighton, changing at Portsmouth or Southampton for the service toBristol. I remember that on one of these journeys on the line to Bristol, wewere in a diesel railcar and could sit right at the front with a view down thetraffic, but Carrie suddenly panicked and was in tears, and said that shewanted to go further back down the train in case there was an accident.Carrie’s brother Martin, also studying economics but a year behind us and atEssex, was often there in Bristol, and he ended up getting a First and becomingan academic too, though in Australia.
I faced the second year safely married, living in the rented top floor of ahouse not far from my parents. It was owned by a big lady, Mrs Sadler, and westayed there until her daughter got married and needed the upper floor,whereupon we moved out, moving first to the Dyke Road area (Colborne Road),where we had a very strict landlady, and then eventually to Kemp Town, the mainstudent quarter, where we stayed in Eaton Place until the end of our firstpostgraduate year. I then got an enhanced grant and we could afford to move toa very nice flat on Marine Parade.
In the second year, I buckled down to work, not helped by a severe attack ofcolitis in the middle of the year following a holiday in Paris, where I startedto belled – we somehow struggled home. The European Studies course was one ofthe best things that ever happened to me, as in parallel to my economics, Istudied all the things that I had somehow avoided at school, philosophy,history, political thought and practice, and continued with French. I was stillvery naïve academically and socially, very unaware of what I was and what Icould become. It was only in my thirties that I started to develop the kind offriendships that produced that most valuable of things – honest feedback. Imade many friends at university, though none of them survived my secondmarriage – they were deemed incompatible.
Robin graduated at the end of my second year and went to teach in London – inthose days graduates did not need teacher’s certificates. Jeremy, who hadstarted a teacher training course in music at Brighton College of Education,left it after a year and went to study Divinity at King’s College London. Orenand Miriam were still at school.
In my third year, in 1969, Carrie and I both revised flat out. Assessment wasentirely by 3-hour examinations plus one dissertation. Mine was a cost-benefitanalysis of the Lewes by-pass, which involved me not just in lots of theory andcalculations, but also in sitting by the roads around Lewes counting cars onroads that had been missed by earlier studies. When the graduation list wentup, we saw both our names at the top of the list. I certainly had not expectedit – I don’t think I even knew what a First was. I think Carrie was expected toget a First. The economics students in the School of Social Sciences were a bitresentful – I heard one of them ask “Who is this Merlin Stone?”, as if astudent in the School of European Studies had no right to a First.
I had interviewed for what was called an Economic Cadetship at the Treasury.They offered me a place, meaning that they would fund my fees and livingexpenses for a Master’s Degree, and then I would join the Treasury. ButProfessor Tibor Barna dissuaded me from taking the enhanced grant, so Carrieand I both got state scholarships – 50% larger than undergraduate grants – andwe began our postgraduate careers, she in philosophy, I in economics. She neverfinished her doctorate – I think she had problems with completing workassociated with her condition. Mine was much delayed by more illness. I studiedtransport economics with Professor Brian Bayliss (using my train spottingknowledge!), plus some Operations Research with John Beishon, whose son, ajournalist, I met years later) and History of Economic Thought with ProfessorDonald Winch. I won a doctoral grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Trust, enablingus to move into our flat on Marine Parade. Over forty years later, as a Trusteeof Bridport Arts Centre, I met John Fairbairn, who was instrumental in helpingthe Centre by giving it a grant for a new box office system.
In our postgraduate years, we kept some of our friendship with fellow students.Some were with us for the first year because they had done four-year courseswith a year abroad, so returned for their fourth year while we were in ourfirst postgraduate year. Gradually a new circle of postgraduate friendsemerged, including other postgraduates and some members of staff, as we starteddoing some teaching. However, Carrie and I spent much of our time together,just we two, and when our marriage was breaking up we joked that we had spentthe equivalent of at least 20 years married life together, so we hadn’t donebadly. We had many acquaintances at university, including Raphie Kaplinsky,Natasha’s father, and many others who became famous. The sixties had turnedinto the seventies, and although we loved the music and had our kaftans, Isuppose we were more spectators than participants in the revolutions of thoseyears, though of course we participated intellectually. After the June war,there was something of an anti-Israeli sentiment around, as Palestinianpropaganda got going. My view was that the Palestinians had been given Jordan,and that many of them, if you went back three generations, were inward migrantsfrom Syria, Iraq and points East and North, attracted to a once depopulatedarea by Jewish economic activity, just as had happened in South Africa. Themyth of the Palestinian nation had however been successfully created.
My doctorate was on new product policy. Professor Barna became my supervisor.He was a member of the UK Monopolies Commission, a minor Hungarian economicwizard. I preferred qualitative research, and wanted to go round interviewingreal business people about what they did, to see whether it matched theory. Ispend a lot of time at the Science Policy Research Unit, studying their work onindustrial innovation – knowledge which has stood me in good stead given mywork in the high tech industries. Tibor just wrote to all the companies he hadinvestigated and they welcomed me with open arms – Cadbury’s, Metal Box,Leyland were some of the main ones, and I made many other contacts myself,writing letters requesting co-operation using my old portable typewriter.Fortunately the Esmée Fairbairn Trust funded my (reasonable) expenses too! Noe-mail in those days, no telephone either, let alone mobiles. I still remembermy visits to Cadbury’s and Rowntree ending with the gift of boxes of chocolatebiscuits – a real treat.
I had finished the fieldwork for my doctorate, between bouts of illness, whenthe time came to apply for jobs. I was offered a post of Lecturer at theUniversity of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. I had nopublications, and just the promise of a doctorate. In those days, less than tenper cent of the population went to university and a third or so got upperseconds or firsts, so I was a rare bird. This compares with around fortypercent and two thirds today. The expansion of higher education had begun, sodemand was high and supply scarce.
August 1972 saw us trekking North in a van driven by one of our very goodpostgraduate friends, as neither of us could drive, with all our worldlypossessions.
My only visit to Manchester had been for the interview. I loved thecountryside around, through walking holidays, but knew nothing of the town. Wefirst rented what turned out to be a slum, with a hole in the roof, and rats,in Queen Street, Withington. It was demolished within a few years. The landlordand landlady were called Fidler, Jewish of course, and a not inappropriatename, given the relationship between rent and comfort. It was there that Istarted to learn to drive. But we soon put in an offer for a cottage at 106Laneside Road, in Low Leighton, New Mills, on the borders of the Peak DistrictNational Park. The town had the fortune to be connected to ManchesterPiccadilly (right by UMIST) by two railway lines, the one to Buxton, the otherto Sheffield. I passed my driving test at in October 1972, after many hours ofpractice round the Wythenshawe housing estate, and we were free to roam, as wedid. Petrol prices were low, and we could drive to Brighton or to Scotland atwill. Carrie enrolled in a Master’s Course in Philosophy of Education atManchester University, where later she put an end to our marriage by meeting“someone else”.
My health was spiralling downwards at the time, but I was fortunate in onlyhaving to teach 5 hours per week, a very light load by today’s standards. Itwas basic economics too. I put a note on my door giving one office hour forstudents, which got me into trouble with the head of department, even though itwas the guaranteed hour, not implying I was only there for one hour. But I wasstruggling to finish my doctorate and worked much better at home, surrounded bythe green rolling hills and dark dry stone walls of the Peak District.
The colleagues at UMIST were good, a pleasant young bunch, most stayed thereforever. However, Professor Cary Cooper became a good friend and mentor. He andI had several things in common – we were both renegade Jews (though he fromCalifornia), we both had rocky marriages to non-Jewish wives, and we bothtalked very fast.
By the end of the first year I was very ill, and in the autumn of 1973 mysituation was very bad. The specialist at Stepping Hill hospital in Stockportsaid that the X-rays had shown that the muscle tissue of my colon hadpretty-well collapsed, and that I was in danger of pre-cancerous changes. Hisadvice was to cut it all out or risk cancer and constant illness. I went withthe recommendation,
In November 1973, I entered Stepping Hill hospital for the operation to removemy colon, rectum, anus – everything, though I didn’t really understand it atthe time. The pre-operation counselling was non-existent, though the medicalcare was excellent. At first, because the operation was so big and bloody, theyhad to “clean me up”. This meant administering a strong antibiotic for a week.It caused me to burst out into spots on the tongue, and it had to be changed.
The commonest operation being undertaken in that ward at the time seemed to behernias and vasectomies – the patients for the latter would wake up and lookdown, still drunk from the anaesthetic, and wail “They’ve cut it off!” Iremember one man had a colostomy because of bowel cancer, and looked down atthe pink protrusion, asking “When will it go away?” The nurse told him“Never!”, which shocked him. Again, no pre-operative counselling.
I tried to stay fit, somehow anticipating that what was to come would not bepleasant. I would do handstands on my bed, press-ups on the floor. There was astrong camaraderie on the ward, as patients were cut up in various ways. This was the period of the miner’s strike and three three day week under EdwardHeath’s government, and power cuts were common. The emergency electricity wassaved for the operating theatres. I hoped it would not affect me, as I was in abad way, lots of bleeding.
On the day of the operation, I was taken down early. The pre-med injection tosedate me failed, and my pulse was racing in anticipation. I was wide awakewhen they strapped my legs up into stirrups, and it was only then that Irealised that they would be cutting from below as well as above. I was injectedwith the anaesthetic and slipped away, a familiar feeling.
I woke up trapped. There was a drip, a catheter, a bag and a drain tube goinginto my rectal cavity via a tube. I felt like a fly in a spider’s web and Icried when visitors asked me how I felt. A nurse suddenly noticed that the tubeto the vacuum bottle that was supposed to drain the cavity had not beenunclipped, so without further ado she unclipped it. There was an enormoussucking sound and I felt as if my insides were being sucked out – well, theywere.
The stoma nurse was a man, and he was good. He explained about changing my bag,and a patient whom I had befriended the previous week showed me the kind oftool that a friend of his used to cut the Stomahesive, the karaya-gum basedsquare that protects the skin, which would otherwise suffer badly from the enzymespresent in the discharge of the small intestine. I gradually got used tochanging my bag, and was happy with no more pain and bleeding, though I feltdisfigured. It took me days before I could pee naturally, as in addition to the“waterworks” being disturbed and possible infected, the whole of my lowernervous system had been shocked and damaged by the immense amount of cutting –a massive cut at the back and an even larger one at the front, plus the holefor the small intestine to come out of.
I was two week in hospital after the operation. While I was there, a young man,Roy Griffin, was brought in. He was what we then called a half-caste – hisfather Indian, his mother white. He had been stabbed in Stockport and hisabdominal wound had been dressed in another hospital before he had beentransferred to Stepping Hill. He was on the mend, and he and I spent much timetalking, he regretting his drug-dealing past and his resolution to go straight.Suddenly he seemed to worsen, his breathing grew more and more desperate, andfinally after about a day of his heavy breathing being audible in the wholeward, he died. His father, who was athis bedside, rushed out, vomiting on the floor. I asked a nurse what hadhappened. She replied that they knew he was going to die when he had beenadmitted, as his bone marrow had been infected by the dirty knife with which hehad been stabbed. His condition was called Gram-Negative Septicaemia – thefirst and last time I have heard the phrase used, but apparently it has a highmortality rate.
But life went on, and the day of my “release” drew near. Carrie had beenvisiting me, and my parents had flown up from Brighton to visit me. So I wasnot alone. I also had many visitors from the university. However, returningalone, very thin and weak, to an old stone cottage in the depths of winter wasnot much fun. I tried to commit suicide, first thinking of jumping in front ofa train and then senselessly taking a massive overdose of the sulphur drugswith which I had been treated, without the faintest clue as to whether it woulddo the trick. It didn’t, obviously. It just turned my urine very yellow.
I then decided to get on with life, and returned with gusto. I had six month’ssick leave ahead of me, so I did what any young man would do. I got drunk alot, crashed my car and wrote it off, engaged in pub crawls with the localrough necks – including one in a removal van, whose driver knocked down many apub wall that night and I ended up lying drunk on a main road. I joined thelocal Labour party and became a responsible member of the community, andstarted doing twenty five mile walks over the Peak District.
One day, my old neighbour, Arthur, asked me to come down to the local pub, TheHare and Hounds. Arthur was quite a character. He was former (and perhaps thencurrent) poacher. One day he knocked on the door with a dead hare in his hand.He wanted some of the herbs we cooked with, to flavour the hare. Who knowswhere it came from? Another day he turned up with a big cut across hisforehead. It had been caused by a cross-brow wire rebounding too far. One ofhis best friends drove around in a beach buggy most of the year. He had dyedlong blonde hair and had been a professional wrestler – he had thatbarrel-chested build. Arthur told a tale in which this friend ha once turned upat Arthur’s house with a rag stuffed into a hole in his chest. He had beencalled by a friend of his “in the valley”, meaning down in Cheshire, whose sonsregularly beat their father up. He had gone to assist and been stabbed by oneof the sons, but none the less nearly beat their brains out against the wall.The police had come for him, and he bared his chest, showing what had been doneto him. They did not arrest him.
On that day, there was a darts match at a pub in Hayfield, and the Hare andHounds team were playing. By then I had written off my car, so I together withArthur and one other got a lift with someone whom I had not met before but wasknown to all. About a quarter of a mile down the road, he went slap into theback of a VW Beetle, a painful experience if you know where the engine is. Iwas sitting in the back seat, nearside, and my head smashed onto the seat infront, leaving me needing stitches. Arthur, beside me, nearly had a heartattack (he was well into his seventies and smoked heavily). The man in front ofme had his ankle broken, but the driver was not hurt, as the impact had notbeen direct but glancing. When the owners of the VW came out of their house, heasked to go to the bathroom as he was feeling sick. When the police came, theyknocked on the door, but he had gone. The car was stolen. He was now living inBirmingham, and had come up to New Mills for the funeral of his brother who haddriven a stolen car into a canal! When the police took a look at who was in theambulance, they recognised me from my Labour Party work and said, “Goodness me,you’re in with a rough lot!” I realised then that as a middle class southerner,I had no clue as to the under-currents of the town. I later learned that NewMills had one of the highest crime rates in the country for a town of its size,said to be due to the fact that many Manchester people had moved there becauseit recovered early from the Great Depression and so it had a weak socialstructure, unlike many Northern small towns. For example, in one of the manymurders that had taken place, the victim was found enclosed in a dry stonewall.
And I finished writing my doctorate.
During this strange time of post-operative recovery and getting used to wearing a bag, I had an affair with a married woman – she and her husband were both very active in the Labour Party. I guess I lost my sense of what was reasonable behaviour. We didn’t get up to much – my whole lower body was still in shock from the operation, with many of the relevant nerves cut through or damaged, but we tried. Fortunately, I did recover quite soon.
By the autumn of 1974 I was ready to go back to work, physically but notemotionally. I never talked to anyone about what I had suffered until I metKathryn. I held it all in. I wanted to throw everything away, start again, andwhen my brother Jeremy suggested that I take up the drums again and go to SouthAfrica (in Apartheid days) with him, I agreed and gave in my notice for the endof the Spring Term 1975. By this time Carrie and I were divorced
I had been assured of a research job at Bath University by my former transporteconomics tutor, Brian Bayliss, now a Professor there. But I threw away theinterview, not deliberately, but my mental state must have made itself obvious.So I decided to go to Israel for the first time, and arranged to visit my auntAliza there (I think my mother put pressure on her to accept the visit). ThereI met Ofra, my second wife, who was to become mother of my two daughters Mayaand Talya. By this time I had been examined for my doctorate and been acceptedwith a few changes to be made to the literature review. I was an economist andhad strayed into marketing, but hadn’t done the marketing reading, which I wasrequired to do. This confirmed me as a marketing man.
Meanwhile, I had interviewed for a post as a Senior Lecturer in Economics atthe then Kingston Polytechnic, and was accepted for Autumn 1975, at nearlydouble the salary that I had at Manchester, enabling me to put down a depositfor a house in Kingston, despite not having much left from the sale of thecottage in New Mills.
But the rest is another story.