A Long Time Ago.
all that David Copperfield kind of crap [J.D. Salinger]
Apart from Frankenstein I don't know of anyone who was just put together as an adult. We have all evolved one way or another into what we are, so I suppose it would be helpful to let you know where I came from and perhaps it may explain why I have become the monster my detractors believe me to be.
Having been described as a sort of belligerent court jester in Martin Boysen's "Hanging On", I felt some elaboration of my life and times was necessary. My only previous claim to fame in the climbing world had been a brief liaison with Pete Crew's fiance. The only other time I can recall seeing my name in print was in the mid to late sixties when I regularly appeared in the Salford City Reporter's annual listing of cases for non payment of rates at the Magistrates Court. Two of my strongest characteristics have been impetuosity and the ability to make bad decisions work. So far so good. It can't be an epic tome: nothing major has gone on. It will be just a collection of happenings around a hedonist who did a bit of climbing.
I have always admired stoicism as a quality: be it in a human being or right down the spectrum of life to the humble woodlice and beyond. Pick up a stone and you may destroy the habitat of hundreds of woodlice and expose them to the immediate danger of any number of predators. They scurry to the safety of concealment first and then look for a new home. They have no means or wish to attack you, they just accept their lot and get on with survival. In the same way that is the lot of peaceful citizens in modern warfare. Like so many others, I was nurtured through six years of war, in my case that was in my first eight years of life. For me it only seems to have had a positive effect; my recollections are largely happy and at times exciting, but for my mother it made what was already a difficult situation, very tough indeed. At times she must have despaired. She was one of tens of thousands, many of whom were much worse off.
1936 was a significant year in the history of Britain: it was the year of the last of the great hunger marches - the Jarrow March - and I was born. The two events had no connection and I have no recollection of either one of them. By 1939 my father was dead and much of the world was at war. Things weren't good but I was oblivious.