Who Am I?
You will have come to a conclusion by now. I may have come across as fundamentalist Christian; an elderly, right wing, out of touch white middle class imperialist, homophobe, islamophobe, anti-feminist, racist etc, etc, scumbag, who has taken to moaning about every progressive change that has occurred over the last fifty years.
It is easy to give a false impression, and one once established in a reader is going to be difficult to turn around. But I refute the above caricature, at least to some extent. Of some of the above I am certainly guilty. I was brought up in the nineteen fifties with all the attitudes you might expect from a white middle class reasonably privileged upbringing. However, that was the start but not the end of my learning about our culture and society. My girlfriend, Jennie, later my wife had a very interesting father. I owe him a lot. He imparted a degree of balance to my one-eyed view of the world.
His views were opposed to mine in almost every possible way. I was at the time Roman Catholic, he was at best agnostic, at worst an atheist. He was a pacifist and his daughter a member of CND, the campaign for nuclear disarmament. She wanted to ban the bomb whereas I was a committed hawk: “bomb the bastards” would have been my motto. If I was a hawk she was a dove like her father. He had been a pacifist during the war and had spent some of it in Wormwood Scrubs, the famous London prison. He was of a communist persuasion, a near Trotskyite I think. He always sided with the workforce in any industrial dispute, of which there were many at that time, the sixties and seventies. I sided with management and any conservative government.
So far, I am fulfilling the brief of a right-wing bigot.
The man who was to become my father in law and I were therefore a combustible couple, and we used to debate on all these issues for hours on end. With what result you may ask? The answer is a surprising one, we came to love and respect one another, with each of us enjoying the verbal and intellectual sparring. This was interspersed with chess and card games, equally competitive. I learned much from him. He encouraged me to read, something I rarely did, sparking the beginning of an education. An education which became a sort of do it yourself affair as I taught myself to take an interest in many subjects and got a taste for research. In many ways, although I loved my own father, my father in law did much more to inform and sponsor me than anyone with the single exception of his daughter, the person I call my second saviour.
I had an awful school career, could not learn and was regularly beaten. Told I would amount to nothing and being nothing became about the height of my ambitions. Life to me was something to be endured and got through. I left school as a persistent truant and without any exam passes or qualifications. As far as I recall I was at the bottom of every class throughout my school career. My only discernable gift was that of art, I was a competent illustrator. Somehow, we all made it through, me, Jennie and our six children.
What kind of person came out? Not a person who was really comfortable looking down on people. I gradually lost that sense of entitlement. I do not look down on gays, feminists, blacks, browns, yellows or anyone because of race or colour or education or sexual alignment or religion. Some I do not understand, others I cannot say I approve of, I am not going to lie. I find some things that are now thought to be normal beyond belief, but I realise I know little or nothing about the circumstances that bring people to the decisions they make. So, while I have made in this book many judgements about this nation and where it is going: it was never my intent to hurt anyone.
My main target throughout has been the moves towards post modernism, and the government’s that have fallen in line with what I regard as dangerous highly motivated agitators for reforms that seem dangerous; high risk social experiments liable to have terrible consequences. The rise of secular pressure groups that are so powerful they have become political advisors. In my view to the detriment of our society. I genuinely would love to listen to and discuss with individuals who represent some of the group’s I have identified as dangers to our society. A Muslim, a member of the LGBT community, a feminist etc. I would happily listen to their stories and try to understand what it is that influenced their decisions and how the forces that influenced them contributed to their decisions, their views on life and those who oppose their viewpoint.
I listened with great interest to my father in law, and all of his views were alien to me at the time. Did I become a Trotskyite, a shop steward, a pacifist, an atheist? No, I did none of these things, but I had a huge respect for the man who opened my mind to issues and ways of thought that were unnatural to me. So, judge me by all means, but do not think my mind is closed or my heart hardened, because in neither case would that be true.
My father in law, Dennis, became a Christian before his death in 1996.
Thank you for reading this, and if you can accept it, May God bless you.