My first card, apparent from birth, was that I was destined to be small. The following two photos demonstrate the situation.

This photo shows me with my four brothers. I am second from the right. In the photo I look similar to my three younger brothers.
          But in fact I am only 20 months younger than my older brother Clabon and I am 4 years older the my next brother Russell. So, in comparison with my brothers, I am small.

This class photo is taken in my later years at high school. I am on the far right. So at this stage I really was very small.

But in fact I am not really all that small now. At one stage I claimed to be 5 feet 8 inches tall. But I was probably only 5 feet 7 ins. Now I am only probably 5 feet 6 ins.

Early in my childhood my parents gave me a book called “Wacky the Small Boy”. Wacky was a highly cocky, obnoxious brat. I identified myself with him completely. This is how I grew up. And over the years I haven’t changed all that much. I always think of myself as a small person and my character is based on this idea. And I like being small.

My next card is that – I either try very hard – or I slack. This has happened in almost all the spheres of life I have been involved in.
          This characteristic is show most clearly in my school life. The following reports give an example.

This is my report for my first term of my second year at high school. The general report is first on the left and the subject reports appear next on the right.

The report is, of course, pretty terrible. I suppose I was slacking. But I never know when I am slacking. I always think that I am doing as much work as anyone else. But my results don’t look this way.

That comment in Biology was a bit unfair. (“He is extremely childish and seems unable to concentrate”) What had happened in class was that we were dissecting a fish. And when I took the fish’s eye out, I squashed it between my fingers for fun. The eye burst and the pupil shot out and hit the teacher. So she, the teacher, wrote that nasty comment. And that comment caused an enormous amount of trouble for me at home.

So next term I really worked with the good results you can see. (Out of sheer spite I worked really hard at Biology to come top.)

For me, “working hard” does not mean that I simply sit down and study my notes and books. I have to do a little of this of course. But for me the most important thing is to actually think about the subject when I am alone, not studying. Then I ask myself – why am I learning all this? – will this knowledge actually help me later? – where could these techniques be used? – how does this learning fit in with everything else I have learnt already? Only when I answered these questions in a reasonable way, does my old brain really get into gear and I learn the topic properly. This is particularly true when I study mathematics. It is best to do this thinking when I am going for a walk.
          So I have to be absolutely certain that what I am doing has a purpose. Otherwise I automatically slack. In a way it is a really good thing that a person slacks if they think the subject has no real purpose. And often it takes quite a long time to work out whether your learning has a good purpose.

In both my primary education and tertiary education, I have also had years when I have slacked so badly that I nearly got kicked out. And then I worked hard and then did really well the following year. And this probably applies in later life as well. But the situation is more complex in the outside world. There are no simply measurers here that can tell you whether you are doing well or not. And this circumstance probably applied to my marriages.

Another feature of my life can also be seen in these reports. Even when I did really well in the second report, my speech and English results weren’t too good. In general I am good at maths and science and bad at speech and writing. But I think the situation is more complex than this.
In general I enjoy solving puzzles or problems – but I don’t like remembering a large number of facts. And all languages have a huge number of words – all of which need to be remembered and spelt. I used to think I wasn’t too bad at language. But as soon as I tried to solve crossword puzzles I found I was absolutely hopeless. I soon gave up. And this wasn’t just a normal minor weakness. Even in comparison with all my other mathematic friends, I am extremely bad at doing crosswords. And I am not much good at Trivial Pursuits or Scrabble either.
But of course I am very good at chess and similar games. Also I am also very good with maps.
I, like all people, have to accept my strengths and weaknesses.

An example of me being social (I am the person supporting the guy)

I am a very social person and I have always belonged to many clubs and societies. And I am usually very active in all these clubs. But unfortunately with a broken back these activities are now very limited.
I, by preference, would like to live in a large dwelling with plenty of other people (or better still in a self-sufficient community). But in our current world this is very hard to organise. At present I rent out most of my large flat to Bangladeshi couple with their one year old child. This situation is terrific – but it might not last. I simply love living in climbing huts (or barns) all squashed up with only a bed as one’s own private space. But such dense living is more-or-less forbidden by the society we live in now. In my opinion, our world has gone mad on an excess of individual possessions, which effectively ruin our social lives. But there is not much I can do about this. Similarly, when in hospital, I vastly prefer to be in a general ward with many people to watch – rather than being alone in a private room. But again, all those wonderful general wards are being got rid of. I think all these isolating movements are horrible.
But also I often like to be alone and work and think by myself during the day. This applies particularly when going for walks. I don’t mind walking with other people. But mostly I don’t want to talk to my companions. I like to be left to my own dreams. I will go for a longish walk by myself most days to dream away.
At the age of 18, my Dad once asked me if I wouldn’t prefer to go for a walk with a girl to talk with. I was horrified. There were lots of things I would like to do with girls (I would fantasise on such activities for hours). But I would rarely want to talk with a girl when I was going for a walk. In general I am quite social with girls and I have always gone to a co-educational schools. But I also do like my time to dream to myself when walking. I also usually prefer to work at a task alone.

Looking back now, I realise that probably my best card was that I was brought up in a very sensible family.
My Dad became a Professor of Astronomy at London University and he was the director of their small observatory. So our family could be thought of as being rather academic. But we didn’t think of ourselves in this way at all. We thought of ourselves as being just a normal family. We certainly didn’t think ourselves as being clever. We mostly thought of ourselves as being good scouts (and this was more important than being clever – and I still think so). And in conversations with other people, as regards general knowledge, we never seemed to know very much at all.
But I think the whole of my family were fairly honest. And this meant we though a little more about the future and what we should be doing with our lives. So we didn’t think that the acquisition of money was too important. So we spent our time sensibly and so we were all finally quite successful.
So my good family was probably my best card.

With all these good cards helping me along, at the age of 25 I appeared to be doing remarkably well. I had completely my PhD, with 3 papers (produced by myself alone) accepted by the British “Computer Journal” (a high ranking journal). So my PhD should be automatic. I had just married a lovely girl. And I had made some quite remarkable climbing first ascents. So most people thought I was destined for a very successful career indeed.
But this was not to be. To understand why you must read a more about “My Dreams” concerning what I wanted to do on this Earth.

You might now also like to look back at:
either my “Home Page” (which introduces this whole website lists all my webpages),
or “My Life” (which introduces this major set of webpages).

Updated on 14/11/2016.