The flat I was living in belonged to the tenants of a housing association. Soon after I moved in there was much talk about handing over to the tenants so that they became the owners. This was very lucky for me, because I was able to buy mine at a very reasonable sum. Properties were beginning to rise heavily.
I lived there for five years. Then I went back to my old home with Bob. A lot of water had gone under the bridge by then. I sold the flat for a good price and bought a piece of land in a good position, hoping that I could get enough money together to design and build a house.
This did not happen as one catastrophy happened after another. First, my college landlord told me I would have to move out of my Kings Parade shop into the much smaller one next door. The shops in the parade were all joined together, so one by one they were being rebuilt from the inside, because they were very old and dilapidated. My shop was going very well. The one next door, where I had to stay for eighteen months while the repairs were being done, had a much lower rent, but this was not enough to balance it with the greatly reduced sales. I lost quite a lot of money and I had to find a good designer to refurbish the inside after the repairs had been finished.
Quite by chance I met a brilliant man who did a very good job for me. The whole place looked wonderful after everything had been put back. Once again I was doing well, but my financial state was precarious. I started to think what I could do to earn more money. Shops were springing up all over England selling posters. A friend suggested to me that the shop was so popular that I ought to look for shops in other places, dress them up and franchise them.
It sounded like a good idea. I hadn’t then realised that looking after franchises from a distance would constitute my having a lot more worry in an area about which I knew nothing. After looking for shops in England I was shaken by the size of the sums of money needed just to buy the leases. In the end I heard about Princes Square, a beautiful shopping centre in Glasgow. I took a shop there.
For the time that it lasted I went up to Scotland once a month to see everything was alright. This was the biggest mistake I ever made. The shop was beautiful but I wasn’t careful enough in appointing the manageress. She seemed such a nice young woman, and she gave me a good reference. But after a while I discovered that she had a drink problem. I tried to help her and that was another mistake. She was just not up to the job. Eventually I had to let her go and a more able woman took over. She did her best but it was too late.
By then I realised the idea of a franchise was both impossible and not what I really wanted.
My financial position was now a lot worse. I had two major assets: The Cambridge shop and my piece of land. If I sold both of them I could clear my debts but I should have to give up my business. It was a blessing in disguise. I had been in working in shops for a long time now. I had enough practical experience to become a good psychotherapist. All my adult life I had accumulated a lot of knowledge from books. One of the most important mistakes I had made most of my life was being sorry for other people and helping them too much.
My dear friend Jerry Planus who had had a far more difficult childhood than I, was against psychotherapy. He said everyone ought to be responsible for himself. “Put yourself First” was his motto. He was so right. I still had a way to go to prove this entirely to myself. But I did it. Like me he abhorred regulated religions. He lived with Catholic nuns in a boys’ home. He wrote a story about his childhood and sent it to me. There was no love there for those poor boys. They were mentally and physically badly treated. But he was a man of great inner strength and determination with a superb brain. I have noted throughout my life that the people I have liked most, because of their open mindedness and ability to think clearly were either atheists or agnostics and mostly men.