Trying Times

What a time, the 1960’s! There were huge social changes. It made everything difficult for that most vulnerable period in life, the teen-age years. It is natural for healthy and strong-minded children to begin to challenge their parents way-of-life. Having come from an unconventional family I had done something very unusual: I brought myself up as an individual. I had my own opinions about what is right and what is wrong. I rejected all forms of orthodox religions because I knew they were all man-made. I didn’t want advice. I knew no-one whom I could turn to. I wanted my children to follow the same path and learn to think for themselves rather than copy what most of all the other young people do.

I had seen enough about the hysterical reactions to Hitler’s wild speeches to know how dangerous it can be to get caught up in one person’s ideas. The Beatles were the new gods. I must say I liked most of their music for its originality and some of their lyrics which contained elements of wisdom. When most young people begin to rebel against their parents they do not begin to start thinking for themselves. All they do is copy their friends. This is one of the reasons why I dislike joining sects of all kinds.

Apart from all this it is important that we learn how to make mistakes in order to learn better ways to help ourselves.

Quentin was my biggest rebel. He didn’t do his homework, nor practice for his music lessons. He had one or two mild skermishes with the police. He wanted to get out of school and away from home as fast as possible. One day I had to go to the police station to fetch him home when he was being kept there illegally. At the ages of fourteen and fifteen he insisted on going on holiday with a mate by cadging lifts from drivers. There was no way we could stop him. It reminded me of the time when he plunged into a swimming pool from the highest board when he was barely two years old and swam to the side although he had never had any lessons.

During what was a very bad time for me was because I could not get close enough to him. He is one of the kindest of people and the last person to harm anyone. I knew that and it made it worse.

I couldn’t talk to Bob about it. All he could say was “You haven’t told any of the neighbours about this, have you?” The one person who helped me was my friend Jerry Planus. He listened to me, said very little, but heard every word. Afterwards, he went away saying “I’m glad I never had no bloody kids!”

I had been studying psychology for some time and I was convinced that this behaviour had something to do with unconscious anger towards me for leaving him in Venezuela when he was still so young. The crisis came when he was living away from home in Bedford with his soon-to-be wife and he fixed a pretend suicide . She rang us up in Cambridge one night and Bob and I sped as fast as we could to the hospital. He insisted in a slightly drunken state that he had not taken an overdose: that I alone knew that this was true. He was right. I believed him. I knew why he pretended he had done it. It was a piece of revenge directed at me for leaving him when he was so small to remind me of my own suffering over my brother’s suicide. He didn’t believe this because he had no conscious feeling that it was true. I am sure it was, because I know from my own experience just how vengeful I can be.

From that time onwards our relationship improved and we grew close to each other again which gave great joy to both of us. When Quentin was seventeen and had started and rejected several boring jobs I suggested that he work for me. His best friend had a car and was in the same position as himself. I told them what kind of books I was looking for and sent them off to search secondhand bookshops and charity shops. It wasn’t long before Quentin was working with me in my shop every day. He picked up things very quickly when he really wanted to learn, as he did. It isn’t easy for two members of a family to work well together in a family business. We made a perfect pair. When I opened my shop in Cambridge he was enormously supportive. He married his girlfriend when they were very young, 18 and 19 and they are still together with one greatly loved son. He stayed with me for five years and then he started his own business. He worked hard and did very well.