Anton's Ideas

Anton Wills-Eve on world news & random ideas


<a href=””>Nest</a&gt;



“Nest is the only four letter word in English of which you cannot make an anagramme,” James said to Peter. Peter thought he was slightly unhinged.

“James,” he observed, “I should imagine you could be sent a whole lot of them, tens in fact.” Peter felt a bit of an idiot. He worked it out. What was it you did again, start with each letter and add the other three in order, like a four horse accumulator in gambling at the races. He tried it.

“Nest, Nets, Nste, Nset, Ntes, Ntse, Esnt, Estn, Etns, Etsn, Ents, Enst, Snet, Snte, Sent, Setn, Stne, Sten, Tens, Tesn, Tnes, Tnse, Tsne, Tsen.That made 24 combinations, the maximum for four letters. Let me count the actual words. 1. Nest:  2. Nets: 3. Ents (well Tolkien allowed it): 4. Sent: 5. Sten (as in gun probably): 6. Tens: 7. Tsen (well the English way of spelling a Chinese name): Yup, that’s the lot.

“Sorry, Peter there are only seven possible words. How do you make it ten?” Peter had a rather romantically wistful look on his face as he came out of a daydream and replied,

“Oh, I was thinking of all the girls Ilove and there are so many. How can I work out the number of girls who might yet be true to  me?” When you said ‘nest’ I immediately added a word and thought of my future love nest. Just for fun, what can you come up with for love?

You have probably gathered by now that James adored challenges. “Hang on a tick, I’ll see. I’m sorry, but let me do this. Love, Loev, Lvoe, Lveo, Leov, Levo, Ovel, Ovle, Olev, Olve, Olve, Olve, Vole, Voel, Vloe, Vleo, Veol, Velo, Evol, Evlo, Elov, Elvo, Eolv, Eovl. That only gives us three possibles. 1. Love: 2. Vole: 3. Velo (if you allow a French bike). I’ve ruled out Olev as I don’t think the Scandinavians spell it that way.” Peter stared at him in awe.

That night James had the oddest dream. He was being chased by a vole on a velo sent by Tsen and armed with stens as they attacked the Ents protecting the nest by the tens of nets sent with love from Peter .






<a href=””>Particular</a&gt;



You once said you wondered how old I am.

Please never ask me that, I’ll tell you why.

I am very particular about being truthful,

But that’s the one time I always tell a lie!


When I was eleven and going to the movies

I told the ticket seller I was well past sixteen

Though particular in all matters of veracity,

I’d have missed all those adult films I’ve seen.


Then when my eyes beheld a Parisian beauty,

Whom I particularly wanted gently to seduce

I could not tell her I was barely past eighteen,

“Trente”! My conscience said, we made a truce.


In later life, when sixty, I once again dissembled,

Some insurers are particular and fussily insistent,

I would never have earned so generous a pension

Without five extra years typed on their document.


But whenI die I must be honest on my gravestone.

The dates will be etched in gold and shining clear.

I shall be particular when telling the undertakers,

It’s 1942 to 20** How can one lie about that year?




<a href=””>Atmospheric</a&gt;

When It Mattered

“I say, have you ever been up in a plane, old boy? Eh? You know one of those four winged, dangerous looking things that people say can fly. Never even seen one myself, but I’m sure it’s all a lot of bosh really. I mean we are already in 1915, surely people in the modern world don’t believe fairy stories like that, do they?”

Cuthbert looked at Humphrey and surprised him enormously.

“Humpy, old man, actually I have. And they do fly through the air, and I’ll tell you something else. We are going to win this war with them too. I know. I am in the flying corps and pilot one.” His friend looked scared more than anything and merely replied.

“How do you mean? What can we do to soldiers on the ground when we are so far away from them up in the sky? It’s nonsense. No, give me a cavalry charge any day.”

Four years later the two friends were sitting in their club in London, Cuthbert being one of the small handful of pilots who had served throughout the 1914-18 war and survived unscathed to tell the tale. He explained why he had been right. “It’s all down to a thing called ‘atmospheric pressure’, my dear chap. Keeps us up there shooting, bombing and reporting on troop movements to the army generals. The Germans didn’t have a chance.”

“Oh,” said Humphrey, “didn’t the Germans have atmospheric pressure then, my dear fellow? I mean why did we have it and not them?”

“I haven’t a clue,” Cuthbert answered. “I only flew the planes, it’s the boffins who told us we did it due to atmospheric pressure, whatever that is. I suppose the Germans couldn’t make any.”

But the fact that it happened again in 1945, left none of the club members in any doubt that the British always invented the most important inventions when things really mattered and the chips were down.



I wanted to entitle this post ‘Pro Nobis’ but remembered that few people know much Latin now and it would have looked like showing off. But you’ll see why I wanted to when I explain the reason for this blog. It’s a few short words about prayers.

Whenever we want to have a chat with someone we love we always do one of four things. Firstly we in some way say I love you. When praying this is usually called praise.

Secondly we often want something and so ask for a favour of some kind. In prayer this is called rogation or asking. The most common reason for any communication.

The third thing we have to do a lot is apologise. ,’I’m sorry’ is an expression of sorrow at having upset someone in any way at all. If it is someone we love it is normally accompanied by a plea for forgiveness. This is probably my most regularly necessary form of prayer.

Finally, there is the fourth type of prayer. Today I had the most wonderful happiness I can ever feel when saying my prayers. I had just learned that something I had been asking God for was in the process of happening. After years of distress suffered by someone who had told me about their problem, and in doing so had come to mean a lot to me,they were at last seeing things improving enormously. I was able to look up to God and smilingly say “Thank you”. Believe me, whether in prayer or any human exchange, gratitude is the most loving and happy feeling of affection one can experience. Why? Because through it we know that someone we love reciprocates that love. So many people forget to say thanks, they don’t know what they are missing!


George’s Nightmare

<a href=””>Honk</a&gt;



The worst continuing saga in the news these days is the ever growing list of girls and women who claim to  have been, or are being, sexually harassed. Just one case is too many, nobody would disagree with that. But then just one case of any type of sexual harassment by anybody on anybody else is totally unacceptable and inexcusable. Take the case of George.

A normal middle class boy of average looks, academic ability and pleasant if slightly shy personality, he always tried to get on well with all his peers male or female. The last thing George would ever do would be to make any type of unacceptable approach, verbal or physical to anyone. Touching up girls or boys, calling out names with sexual inuendos or any sort of groping were actions he would not even contemplate. He was quite normal in everything he did, or any games or social events in which he took part. And yet he had few friends. Not real friends, but it was no accident. The poor boy had the misfortune to celebrate his  fifteenth birthday in the year 2015.  His parents asked him if he wanted to ask any school friends to a party or do something special to celebrate the day and he thdought about it for just five minutes.

“No thanks, I don’t think so. I don’t think any of us would enjoy it very much”. The trouble was that he would not tell his parents his reason for his answer. He had a lot of children in his class whom he would have liked to ask to a party but just couldn’t. He was getting very annoyed with them and finally started to question their behaviour. He began with John, a boy very close to himself in age.

“John, when you and the other boys have late night parties and things, do you always have to do drugs and watch porn?” John thought he was raving.

“We don’t have to, we just enjoy it. The girls do to, so why not? Our parents are seldom around and most would understand even if they were. Why? Don’t you like porn and drugs and things that make you feel great? None of us think you’re gay or anything, are you a religious nut or something?” George shook his head.

“No John, it’s not that. It’s just that drugs are dangerous and although a lot of the girls turn me on I don’t want to upset them by having sex with them, maybe getting them pregnant or upsetting them by seeming to share in enjoying watching porn with them, which I don’t.” John just wandered off, bewildered.

Next George asked a well known siren in the class, fourteen year old Katie, why she behaved as she did? She was not so much surprised, it was George after all, but saw no reason why she shouldn’t be honest with him. “Look we’ve known each other four years now, George, and I’ve changed from a little girl into a young woman. What do you expect me to do. I enjoy most sexual activities so I go with a lot of boys. We enjoy it. I admit drugs are a bit dicey and I’m not really into them, but I pretend to be or I might not be invited to the all night porn show and sleepover dates. It doesn’t affect my school work so why should I worry?” George was getting seriously worried about himself. Finally he asked his headmaster if he could have a personal chat with him.

“Well of course, George, I have to uphold the standards of decency demanded at this school, but you can see it’s impossible. If I or any teachers tried to interfere with activities outside school we’d be in court on trumped up rape charges from the girls, or homosexual and paedophile charges from the boys. Parents never back teachers so we just keep our heads down and hope to survive from day to day without finding ouselves suspended or arrested. I wish all the pupils were normal and pleasant like you, but this digital age has made that a pipe dream.”

Poor George. There were 16 girls and 17 boys in his class all aged between 14 and 16. He could honestly name only two boys, both obviously gay, and four girls, one a mouse, two lesbians, and the fourth an academic genius who just got on with her own life, who did not indulge in fairly regular orgies of some description. When his seventeenth birthday came along he was thoroughly depressed and summonded up the courage to ask the ‘mouse’,

“Carla, it’s my birthday tomorrow and I wondered if you’d like to come out with me, you know, to a film or maybe a dance. Whatever you like, you say. She just stared at him. She was far more scared and frustrated than he was. The girls made fun of her because she would not join in their high jinx, and the boys just pinched her backside or made lewd jestures at her while making it clear they would never want to have any more meaningful relationships with her. Sheblushed and almost accepted George’s offer too fast.

“Oh yes, George. yes please. I haven’t got a boyfriend at the moment, well I’ve never had one really. Do you mind that? I mean I’m still a virgin and everything, would it put you off me?” George had never felt so sorry for ayone in his life.

“Don’t be silly! I’m hardly Don Juan, am I? What would you like to do?” Then came the shock.

“We could have a bite at mine, if you like. Dad is away on business just now and mum walked out on us thee years ago. I’m on my own at the moment.” Somehow George felt uncomfortable but having cheered Carla up so much he couldn’t let her down. He just said,

“OK. I’ll come round about six, after my homework. Oh where do you live?” It  turned out she lived only four roads away. They had a very nice, friendly evening discovering they liked the same music and both enjoyed the football on the television. At midnight George thought he ought to be going and was sitting next to Carla on the sofa with his arm round her when he remarked on this.

“You don’t have to George, if you want to stay with me my bed’s a very large one,” and she kissed him very seductively as she said this. George wondered what on earth he should do. He could not bear the thought of disappointing her by not making love to her when she so plainly wanted him too, but also he did not have any feelings of love for her and genuinely thought it was something he should not do. In the end he gave her a goodnigt kiss and said he had had a lovely time and hoped they would soon feel more for each other. A very crestfallen Carla said goodnight to him.

Three days later a policeman called at George’s house asking to see him on a serious matter. It was early evening and his mother, but not father, was home. What followed left him staggered. The policeman said he had been accused of rape by one of his school friends as an i-phone had a video on it showing him snuggling up to her on a sofa and another series of still photos showed her in a state of distress with torn clothing. He had to answer the charges at the police station. One can imagine his nightmare. Carla, in her chagrin at being spurned, cried “rape.” She had a medical examination showing she had indeed been subjected to sexual intercourse, but nobody even thought she had phoned another boy and asked him round for a quickie just to substantiate her claims. No DNA tests were possible  because she had showered, bathed and cleaned herself too well. The magistrates court summoned George to answer the accusations, while most of the children at school thought the whole thing was a huge joke. The female magistrate,   asked him for his version of events. At last he could take no more,

“Madame,” he answered, “I am the victim of respecting the rights and personal wishes of my female colleagues and friends in all matters appertaining to any sort of sexual harassment or interference. I recently read on line eight tips of how males of my age should behave towards females of any age in such matters. Let me enlighten you:

  1. I should never drink so much alcohol that I feel uninhibted and indulge in any form of sexual harassment. I never have and I do not intend to. I see no question of this raised  in the charges against me.
  2. I should not boast of any worth or personal prowess to impress a woman or make sexual advances  following such behaviour. I never have , I never will, and I am not charged with this.
  3. Calling out lewd remarks or cat calls to women. This is not pertinent to this case and anyway it is the last thing I would do.
  4. Not to send pictures of my genitalia to a female. I never have, am not accused of it and ayway I consider it disgusting.
  5. Never treat a woman as if she owes me sexual favours. Well this whole case is about the fact that I did  not assume this, was home before my normal bedtime, and would never  treat a woman in such a way. If anything it was she who thought I ought to make love to her.
  6. Not to expect to be praised for NOT indulging in such practices. In short for being a ‘goodie, goodie’. I don’t, haven’t and in this case would hardly expect to be so treated  would I?
  7. In all relationships remember that sexual intercourse must be consensual and that if a woman does not want you to have sex with her at any time I should respect that. Well, what happened here was that it was I who refused to spend the night with her, but she did not accept my reluctance to practice fornication with her.
  8. Keep your hands to yourself. Actually this is the only one with which I disagree. Neither party should be allowed to stroke or fondle the other if it is against their wishes. Well the video showing us having a goodnight cuddle certainly does not infer that I was doing anything unpleasant or unloving towards her. On the contrary she wanted me to.

“There you have  my defence. I have since dicovered that she fabricated all the evidence against me out of spite and by coaxing another male friend to have sex with her so she could cry rape against me. I can no more prove or disprove my case than she can hers.”

Poor George was found guilty of attempted rape with violence and sentenced to six months jail pending time to appeal. Unfortunately, being a normal, consideate, pleasant and kind young man was not enough to allow George to retain his sanity. Two days later he took an overdose of sleeping pills and, as I write, his life is still in the balance.



<a href=””>Recognize</a&gt;

recognise chapter 2 of my story


BOOK 1  


Chapter 2

Leaving a school where I had a lot of friends, though none very close, was naturally quite a wrench and above all a somewhat sad time as I knew I was no longer going to be with my friends of nearly four years, well most of them very seldom and several never again. I never had a very close relationship with the teachers at Pathways because at that age they were people whom one was always trying not to upset by breaking rules and talking in class and such like. But on the whole I think they liked us all and none of them had favourites. Also when I left at least I was not severing my ties completely as my sister was staying on until she was thirteen. For girls the academic teaching was very good to this age and Michèle did not want to part from her friends yet. My parents were quite happy with this. Indeed they could see she was happy at Pathways and in those days that was all the ambition many parents, especially wealthy ones, had for their daughters.

But for David and I things were very different. Firstly we had to get new school uniforms and neither of us liked them. Even aged eight they were herring bone tweed suits, with short trousers to the age of ten, and school house ties and white shirts with starched collars that rubbed the neck off you. The school caps were naturally compulsory and nobody liked them. Also our grey knee length socks did not suit us and if we arrived in the morning with anything other than shining black leather shoes we were in trouble. For some unfathomable reason we also had to wear a different pair of black shoes inside school, so every boy had a small shoe locker which wasted five minutes every time we had to go out to play, have lunch at the main school or change for games. I should have mentioned that we started in the junior school which was almost in a campus of its own, a separate large old Victorian mausoleum for the seven to eleven year olds. For those who were eleven before the first of September in any school year this meant moving up to the middle school for two years, eleven to thirteen, again in a building and area of its own. We discovered why later.

Now you may have guessed from what I have already written that my background was a little different to that of other pupils. For a start my uncles and aunts, with occasionally mum, were regularly appearing in West End theatrical productions and Michèle and I spent some of our free time, either at weekends or early evenings, in dressing rooms full of stars and well known entertainers. But our mother gave us one really important lecture when we were six and seven. She took us into the playroom and said she had to explain to us something which most parents did not discuss with their children until they were a lot older. We then got a wonderfully explicit and highly dramatic account of every type of homosexual perversion. This, we were told, was so we would know what was happening if any male or female homosexuals tried to interfere with either of us in any physically abusive way. Apparently the theatre world was full of them. My instructions were to immediately tell any such men that I knew what they were doing and was reporting them to my relations, and to any such females that I was reporting them to the theatre manager. Don’t ask me why my mother told us to discriminate in such an odd way, but she did say one thing that I really loved.

“And remember, I was probably the best male impersonator the stage has ever seen so people will expect you to be odd. Therefore you must politely tell them that you have nothing abnormal in your own sexual make up and they will understand.” As it happens no one ever did try to abuse either my sister or me in the theatre, which rather disappointed me as I was looking forward to giving such a person the fright of their lives. I am old enough now to realise that I would probably never have been so approached because of who I was. But to return to school. Listen to this. The week before going to a public school for the first time, not a boarding school I am glad to say, mum told me that most boys would probably try to experiment, as she put it, sexually with each other but I was not to get involved. If any teacher tried to do so I was to tell either her or dad at once. She had had a series of boyfriends who turned out to be homosexual, and one homosexual husband who committed suicide in front of her, who all told her that such behaviour was normal in English posh schools. Rather like allowing caning, and other dreadful forms of corporal punishment, she believed such schools to be hotbeds of many painful practices. But it was just part of growing up. As you will hear I did not accept that side of life with my illness at all.

The worst thing about the first couple of months at our hallowed school was the absence of any girls. I had always loved female company and, I must freely admit it, showing off to them with what I was later told was my very charming and amusing manner. I was not handsome in any striking way, I certainly never even thought about it, but for some reason lots of girls always seemed to want to make friends with me. I cannot deny that I liked this, yet I also enjoyed playing all types of sports and games with other boys. But David soon saw how much I was missing having Sandie near me during the day. I saw her on occasional weekday evenings, but it was the weekends that mattered. And this is how I managed to kill two very tricky oiseaux with one pierre. About two months after she had come to Mass with me and a month into my first term at my new school I went to confession one saturday afternoon. I told her I was going and that I was going to tell Father Fagan about her. To my surprise she insisted on coming with me as she said it concerned her just as much as me. She sat at the back of the church to wait for me. It was one of the oddest confessions I have ever made. I entered the confessional box knelt blessed myself and began,

“Forgive me father for I have sinned, it is eight weeks since my last confession. I do not think I have done anything especially wrong but for one major thing, and Father please help me. You see I don’t even know if I’ve committed a mortal sin or not.” At this point he interrupted me in a friendly voice which made it obvious he knew who I was but could not actually say so.

“Well, what could you have done that is so seriously wrong at your age and not be sure whether it is a sin? What have you done?” I took a deep breath, paused and said in a rush,

“Please, Father. I have converted someone to the Faith. But I think I’ve gone too far.” I have never experienced since that day such a long silence in a confessional. It seemed like hours but was probably only twenty seconds before the priest asked,

“What on earth do you mean you’ve gone too far? Now take it slowly and tell me clearly exactly what happened.” So I very precisely told him how Sandie accompanied me to Mass and received Holy Communion. I mentioned no names but when I had finished I asked what should we do and was it a dreadful insult to God, even if she now loved him as as much as I did. His reply was so short I could not believe it.

“It was a beautiful thing to happen to both of you. Tell her she is loved by God as much as she loves him and both of you stay close friends until either she or her family allow her to come to confession. When that is arranged she may receive the sacrament as often as you do. And do tell her all her sins are forgiven as she has expressed sorrow for them. It is obvious she understands far more than you realise. That’s all. Now, for your penance just ask God to stay close to you both.”

That was it. That was all he said or did. He never even thought I’d done something sinful. Wrong, yes in one sense, but not on purpose. And then I remembered you could only commit a sin if you meant to and understood what you were doing. Apparently he and God could see that there was not a sinful or even wrongful intention in anyway connected with what happened that day. I said a very short prayer to ask God to look after us both, as I had been asked, and signalled to Sandie to come outside with me.

She was very happy when I told her what happened in the confessional and said she would try to get her parents to let her become a Catholic properly, as she put it. “But Ton, if they won’t let me I shall keep on trying with you and Father Fagan for as long as I have to until they cannot stop me.” Incredibly she seemed quite happy with that solution and almost dropped the subject for more everyday and ordinary topics. We went on seeing each other a lot that term up to Christmas, mainly at weekends when I also gave her beginners’ piano lessons, and she soon settled into a great relationship of friendliness with me that centred almost entirely on us just wanting to be together. But life at school slowly began to accentuate aspects of my phobia which I never expected. I think the worst was the way we were punished and the reasons why. I noticed that to break any school rule seemed to involve being physically smacked, caned or hit really hard with a leather strop depending on the seriousness of the offence. This is an example from late in that first term when I was eight and a half years old.

The junior school headmaster, Father Jerome, was the only master allowed to hit pupils and then at first not very hard. One might be caught talking in assembly when school started and would receive whacks on the left palm with a wooden ruler and told to do what one was told in future. I made my first terrible mistake the first day I was sent up to the head.


But Father, nobody told me not to talk in assembly. What did I do wrong?”

“Wills-Eve, it’s written on the rules on the main notice board that no boys may talk in assembly. A teacher saw you talking and so reported you to me. Therefore you have to be punished.” I felt something was going very wrong and then I probably said too much.

“I repeat, Father, nobody told me not to talk in assembly. I have never read the notice board, who does? And even if I had it would not have constituted somebody talking to me, telling me,  would it? It is merely a list of suggested forms of conduct at the school. It calls them rules but at no point on that board does it say we have to behave in the way they advocate. No, I’m sorry but those rules are merely suggestions, certainly not someone giving verbal instructions, so I maintain I have done nothing I was told not to.

“Oh heavens, but wait. They aren’t sins are they? Those I would not commit.”

In many respects I think I was lucky it was the first time I was sent up to him because he could not expel me. For minor offences one had to be found to be flouting the rules deliberately three times before the ultimate sanction could be imposed. The poor man just stared at me.

“It has been drawn to my attention that you are noted for your clever talking, wit and occasional remarks very close to insulting the teaching staff. Well I shall take this conversation as my introduction to your extremely rude behaviour and warn you never to repeat it. I am neither amused nor impressed by you!” And I was asked to hold out my hand. He was so cross he did not notice it was my right hand I put out. He struck it three unmerciful blows. As he was about to forget himself and deliver a fourth blow I pulled my hand away.

“Only three times Father. I believe that is the custom for a first offence. Also it should have been on my non-writing hand. I shall not be able to inscribe anything for the two hours remaining before lunch!” He was almost apoplectic by this time, but I was already on my way out the door. Actually I had behaved like a show off and an idiot because he was never going to spare me again. Then a thought struck me and I went straight back into his study. He could not believe it.

“Oh Father, you forgot to ask me what I was talking about when the teacher apprehended me. I was telling a boy next to me that I was feeling very ill and wanted to leave assembly at once. By attracting the teacher’s attention I was sent up to you straight away and so achieved my aim. Do thank him for me.”

You can see that I had not started off on the right foot. But I did gain one advantage from the encounter. When striking my hand he accidently broke my index finger at the second knuckle. My finger grew slightly out of shape from then on and by the time I was thirteen I could spin a cricket ball so well I was the best slow bowler in the school. I remember going up to him when I had taken eight wickets in an innings in a school under fourteens match that year and thanking him for what he had done five years earlier. By that time I was an established anomaly amongst the pupils of my age and he ignored me. Luckily my odd finger did not hamper my piano playing.

However the whole of my first year at school was taken up with with playing the piano, for an astonished music master who regretfully accepted my refusal to play in front of any type of audience for ‘nervous’ reasons, and working out how to control my phobic panics in everyday life. At home only Michèle could tell that I was actually ill and not just acting the fool. In many ways this was my own fault because I was a very good actor and so people took my exhibitionist behaviour and exaggerated pompous speech in several languages as merely showing off. It was not always, but often let me cover up for times when I could not behave normally. Like David, Michèle played with me a lot and when I was not far short of my tenth birthday she asked me one night when the grown ups were either out or listening to the radio,

“Anton, have you actually got anything wrong with you? I mean, it is plain to all of us that your linguistic and acting ability is very advanced for your age but is it just put on to impress people who know your background and how many languages are spoken in our family circle all the time? Well I speak five already and I’m only eleven and a bit. But you also look very scared at times, I’ve seen it often, and wondered if I could do anything for you? I mean, what’s wrong?” I told her in detail and she was in a dreadful state when I’d finished. But the one thing she could see was that I could never tell our parents unless it got hopelessly worse. My mother was far too ill, Dad would have had to tell her and my grandmother could never keep her mouth shut try as she might. Michèle dried her eyes, kissed me and said she and David would look after me for the time being.

Can you now see what a strangely abnormal world I was growing up in? I begged them not to tell Sandie either as she would be far too upset, so they agreed at that time and then came a really bad shock that nearly finished me off for good. Just before Easter in 1952 Sandie, her face gaunt and drawn, told me they were moving. Her father had been posted abroad, to Switzerland, and she would hardly ever see me for two or maybe three years. I literally fell on my knees by the bed that night and asked Saint Rita what I should do. It was the second time she gave me audible advice.

“Antonino, I will help you, but be very careful of the ways you try to treat your phobia and loneliness when Sandie is not with you. It will be very hard for you but I will do all I can.”

Our school staff included about 14 ordained monks who were also academically distinguished scholars. But they never treated us as anything other than youngsters whom they had to show how to live as God wanted them to. Thus for them the idea of following a rule, as they did spiritually in their daily lives, was the obvious way to help us to organise our own lives. But it did have its drawbacks. They also carried this to the extreme of obeying school rules in our everyday lives in such a way that they did sometimes get things horribly out of proportion. The panic attacks which accompany my phobia can still occur when just faced with the prospect of not being able to seek shelter when left on my own’ This drives me to a fit of breathless horror when knowing I am going to have to go through any physical really painful experience because my phobia has conditioned me to fear something unpleasant happening to me just as much as the panic symptoms themselves when they occur. Added to the mental side, anxiety neuroses are themselves physically very painful, as well as tiring and terrifying.

This is not cowardice, just simply the inability to deal with the apprehension which attacks me when I know I am going to have to undergo such a horrible experience. In short, by the time I reached a master’s study to receive a severe thrashing I had already had my punishment and almost no longer cared what happened to me. Just Imagine poor Saint Benedict having to apologise to me for his followers’ mistaken interpretation of his rule. But also imagine Saint Rita hanging on to me like grim death outside the headmaster’s study and smiling at me as she promised me I would soon be okay and it would all be over. They were really terrific, both of them, and in fact were the only reason why I did not report the school to the education authorities for excessive brutality as I was thrashed to within an inch of my life for regularly being reported for misconduct both verbal and physical. A threat my father would have carried out had I told him what I went through.

Did I hear you say, ‘what on earth had you done to get so severe a punishment?’ Not a lot, just being late with my homework, talking in class or obviously not working as hard as the teachers knew I could. But in 1953-55 those were very serious offences! Also my mother was terminally ill at this time, which the school knew, but did not know that she hated to hear that I had ever done anything wrong. She berated me, told me it made her feel worse, and went through the whole gamut of her actresses’ emotions to convince me that I was ungratefully repaying my parents for all the sacrifices they made to keep me at such a good school. The trouble was I believed her, never wondering what such sacrifices were given our wealth. So you can see why I never told the school that, if my punishment for something was, for instance, detention after the last class of the day, I would just not do it. I would just go home at the usual time and thus not upset my mother even though I knew the price I would have to pay at school the next day! But I had a third and stronger reason for this by the time I was thirteen.

If my heavenly friends tried to lessen my pain and mental anguish, they also did a lot to help me and in such a glorious way that I have never held any of the really awful events of those years against God in any way. You see I lived near the Abbey attached to our school and the one thing I loved doing more than anything in life was serving Mass. Standing with the priest on the altar made me feel so happy, so full of God’s love, especially at the Consecration, that I would have gone through anything to be able to do this as often as I could. In fact I served Mass at 7.00 am every weekday I was available and really thanked my spiritual friends for making this wonderful experience possible so often. The major difficulty was the way my phobia meant I could not walk the length of the long aisle down the centre of the Abbey, or stand alone and exposed on the high altar. But we had a series of small altars down one side of the church where most of the monks said their daily masses. These I could manage, and did. Whenever I served Mass God and my favourite saints made my life truly great and compensated a thousand fold for all my mental illness. Eventually I was so ill with my phobia, and two major nervous breakdowns between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, that I was finally excused several school activities because I just could not do them. The classic one was parading with the school army cadet force.

I finally told the senior school headmaster, who mercifully did understand my phobia, that I was not hamming it up when I could not breathe if asked to stand silently to attention. In the end, after a medical examination from a doctor who did not have a clue what I was talking about, I was excused corps for my last three years at school. Also they respected my wish not to worry my parents with my nervous condition.

I think my other main memories of early school life were loving all sports at which I was fortunate enough to excel, coupled with the subject of Saint Rita’s warning. Can you imagine a ten to eleven year old playing cricket and doing really well for the school under elevens side thanks to nearly half a bottle of scotch he had to drink to manage to cross the cricket field?! David knew about this and became very worried at first. But as I never appeared drunk, and the booze only calmed me down and did nothing else, he put up with it for quite a long time. The other sports memory was what I called the unnecessary side. I was regularly punished for not doing things which I could not manage because of the limitations of my phobia. For instance I could not do a cross country run outside the perimeter of the school grounds or playing field – well who could with my illness? So I just sat out such races and was of course reported for being lazy and disobedient. And then the awful added anxiety of waiting for three days before going into the headmaster’s study to be thrashed for being too ill to run. I remember first getting thoroughly fed up with this senseless torture when I was still only nine and holding out my right hand and saying to the new junior school headmaster, his first term in the job,

“Look Father you use your left hand to hit me and we’ll see who comes out of the contest best”. He did not have a clue if I was being impertinent or genuinely trying to crack a joke. He smiled and said, sorry it wasn’t negotiable. Following this I pulled my left hand from behind my back and said, “Sorry, but I fell off my bike yesterday evening and I’ve broken four fingers. You can’t hit that one.” He stared, put the ruler away and said

“Okay we’ll make that your punishment for a couple of weeks’. But I finally had him.

“No Father. That’s the last time you’ll ever hit me. I told the doctor the injury was the result of the ferocity with which we were thrashed at school. My father is taking no action, much as the doctor wanted him to, but he will if you ever touch me again.” Nobody did hit me again in the junior school so I had managed to stop that double torture without the family knowing about my phobia. But my father’s added condition was that no boys in the school aged under eleven should receive any form of corporal punishment, and as he was a well known journalist they did not argue with him and the rule he demanded was brought in.Actually what annoyed me most about that incident was not being able to play the piano properly for three weeks.

Finally I must briefly outline the last part of the story of my introduction to the Faith, the Charity and above all the Hope which control my soul. Let me explain what I believe spiritually which reached it’s final complete stage by the time I left school in 1960 aged eighteen and a few months. This will complete the background to the many exciting, dreadfully sad and unusual events that occurred during this part of my life. Above all, after this short explanation of how my soul loves God, my readers may better understand all the subsequent loves of which I write. It is best summed up by telling you about five saints who have long been very special friends to me in heaven.

Firstly there is my name saint, Antoninus, on whose feast I was born and has been with me all my life. Every day I ask him to make me worthy of his name, but nobody could ever aspire to the level of holiness he attained in giving all he had and devoting every word he preached to helping the poor. I try to imitate him but am very definitely only a very pale shadow. Secondly in my life came Saint Rita of Cascia. I have already introduced her to you all and made you aware of how much I rely on her help to get through every day of my life. Thirdly I learned about Saint Benedict, founder of the religious order which taught me for ten years. He has always reminded me, through his incredibly sensible directions for reconciling our humanity with our love of God no matter how often we stumble all over the place in all directions, how to get back on our feet whenever we fall.

Saint Caterinetta, or Catherine, of Genoa, the fourth saint I came to know, has probably played the greatest part in teaching me to trust in God’s mercy by refusing to condemn anyone whom he loves for any reason at all and to God, she realised and made clear to me, that means everyone because God created everyone and loves everything he created. She is more responsible than anyone for my approach to God, that is my personal relationship with him in this life and the next. Like hers, my spiritual relationship with God is totally just him and me. Not even the church gets a look in when I realise how much I love loving him and being loved by him, both now and eternally, provided I never forsake or deny him. And finally I pray every day to Pope Saint John XXIII to help all my friends who once professed their love for God but now doubt him. Why a man who was only made a saint less than three years ago and holds no special place in most people’s hagiographical knowledge? Simply this. I met him and knew him in the early 1960s, as did many people who need his help now for the reasons for which I ask for it.

Well that completes my very brief spiritual story from the summer of 1950 to my last days at school when eighteen years of age in 1960. In order for it to make sense I have had to write it straight through to let the events of the rest of my life during that decade show up against the background of the person I was. You will see how much of my life seems quite out of keeping with the spiritual love that underpinned everything I did, fought, or tried to do.

But I would like to end this chapter on a pleasant note, and they don’t come pleasanter than Sandie. It was my tenth birthday party and we all played hide and seek in our big garden. About ten boys and ten girls from near where we lived came to tea and games at our house. May is a lovely month for a birthday, yet Sandie seemed strangely shy and very upset.

While playing hide and seek I partnered her and knew a perfect spot behind the orchard fruit shed where no one would find us. I smiled at her deliberately affectionately, “Now what’s got into you since I saw you a couple of weeks ago Sandie? It can’t be just missing me for such a short time.” A tear ran down her cheek as she answered.

“Oh, Ton. It’s not that. At our age grown up life has not even started, no it’s our moving abroad soon for maybe three years. Dad’s been posted to Switzerland as I told you, so I’ll be a long, long way away from you.”Amid sniffles she added,”I promised myself I would not spoil your birthday. I’m sorry, I shall be good from now on. I looked round, saw nobody could see us and placed my hands on her shoulders and gave her the softest kiss I think I’d ever given anyone by then as I said,

“I agree with you we are too young to be in love as grown ups are, but I promise you this, my Sandie. I love you more than anyone I know and I hope I always will. So please just keep writing to me and as we get older we may get to love each other more every day. I am sure I can talk the family into a holiday in Geneva this summer as well. It needn’t be too bad.”

She said nothing, just put her arms round my neck and returned my kiss with ten times the love I had given her. She hung onto me for five minutes, wiped her eyes and completed the promise to write and never lose touch. She stayed very close to me until they moved two and a half months later. What I did with my family, David, and in different countries up to the end of 1956 follows next.

End chapter 2



<a href=””>Clouds</a&gt;

An allegory of depression and contentment




Lightning black eventide clouds cover all the land

Rain and Storms drench each forest field and farm

And country folk fast race to shelter in their homes

Floods force a family to huddle close in their alarm



Hell bitter black is sucking hope from every breast

As foresters or herdsman fall to their knees to pray

Lest evil spirits of the clouds on this accursed night

Should take their very lives before the break of day



Pale pink rays at last break through the clouded sky

Rain and storm decrease their war on beast and man

Dawn’s bright smile to the afraid now lifts their fear

And joy at last is felt at the end of night’s dark span



Clouds now shrunken to small white powdery fluff

Allow the warm and welcoming sun to shine on all

Each farmer thus again enjoys his bright new world

And swains and maidens kiss behind haystacks tall.



<a href=””>Voyage</a&gt;

I have stolen the title of Virginia Woolf’s first major work because I could not find anything more apposite.


Just before midnight on the evening of June the 23rd 2016 I was lying in bed with my tablet watching the BBC coverage of the election results on a referendum to decide whether or not The UK should leave the EU or remain a member of a united Europe. The first large city to announce its result was Newcastle, in the North East. It was forecast to vote 60% to 40% in favour of remaining. It voted to do so, but 50.3% to 49.7%. I Put away my tablet, turned out my light and prayed for the future of all my friends in Europe.

A few minutes before six in the morning I awoke, turned on the tablet again and accepted the fate imposed upon the world by 52% of the electorate who had decided, for whatever insane reason, to leave the sanctuary of a ship that was floundering but which could yet be saved. Instead those voters chose to let it sink and preferred to sail off alone into the egotistical, self-centred oblivion of finding its own new world. Sadly, nobody pointed out in the preceding campaign that the New World had already been discovered, was not that great but bearable, and there were no more worlds to conquer.

I let the day pass as I assimilated the damage that had been done to three things. Firstly to the world’s opinion of the UK which had changed from a respected and prosperous democracy to a selfish, uninformed and greedy bunch of nationalistic extremists who cared for nobody but themselves.

Secondly I surveyed the economic damage done to the UK itself as the pound floundered and the value of each person’s possessions, monetary, industrial or in real estate diminished on average by seven per cent. The promised land of no longer allowing immigrant workers to steal jobs by accepting lower wages backfired and UK workers realised they would soon be earning less anyway. But the immigrants would earn what they always had. Commercially, small businesses would fold as banks now had no money to lend them to keep them afloat. Just as they would not be able to lend people money for mortgages, so the homeless would remain just that.

Thirdly I reflected that, as the ship of state sailed off into the wide blue sea of uncertainty, the UK’s European partners were now facing a horrific reality that could have been kept hidden until it was put right, but now cannot. Most of the countries in Europe were living off the money Britain gave them, but as they traded with Britain this was a problem that could be managed. Now, when that trading stops , seventeen European countries will be so badly bankrupt that the common market will no longer be able to exist and several hundred million people will be facing ten to fifteen years of recession bordering, in some cases, on starvation. Did our voters even know this two days ago? No, because nobody bothered to tell them the implications of what they were doing. In short, the claim that we held the first truly democratic vote in our history proved only one thing. Democracy only works when those who take democratic decisions are correctly informed about all aspects of what they are having to decide. In the UK most of us did not. I am glad to be able to say that I at least pointed out these dangers in blogs and on Facebook several days ago. But then a voice crying in the wilderness does not expect to be heard.

But our voyage out may not have been a complete disaster for the Western world. There is a strong chance that when the citizens of the United States see what economic and social chaos is created to the detriment of all, if one votes for walls instead of doors, they might think twice when confronted by extremism of this kind in their own country in November. They will ditch Donald Trump when they see that Britain is no longer GREAT and that the rest of the world will hold them in universal contempt if they bring their own country down to the same level of vilification. Thank God I am a Scots Australian, though born in England, for it was the ENGLISH vote that did this.



<a href=””>Awe</a&gt;

In my career I signed over 100,000 news bulletins, stories, etc with my initials awe. what a prompt!



This is quite amazing. When working for any news media if you file anything, a story, a breaking news flash, an obituary, a sports result or even an information message to another office you always have to append your initials after it so the company knows who the writer is. Guess what I have used all my life , 61 years since my first music critique for British United Press aged thirteen. Yes of course. AWE!

Now this does not mean all my work has been AWEsome but it has always been prompt. The whole idea of working for a News Agency, my first twenty years in this field were with  BUP, UPI, Reuters and AFP, is to get the top stories to the press and other outlets FAST and FIRST. I actually created a record with UPI in Paris in 1962 by beating all the opposition with the winner, yellow jersey holder and lap time on all 22 laps of that Tour de France cycle race. I wasn’t clever I just hated being beaten. I wasn’t even a staff member then, I was just doing freelance sports reporting work while at university.

But two firsts I am proud of were very different.In May 1968 I gave Reuters a seven minutes world beat on the announcement of the agreement to hold the Paris peace talks on Vietnam . This was actually cheating as nobody knew the meeting was taking place. It was in the Laotian capital Vientiane and I was the only journalist there. I had been asked by the US, Australian , North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese teams to be a fifth and neutral negotiator as I knew all the diplomats involved personally and could speak all three languages needed for the discussions. It was great fun and they all respected my plea to let me file my story before their various governments made official announcements.

My other super beat was closer but very lucky. I gave Reuters a three minute world first on the death of General de Gaulle thanks to a former university friend giving me a phone call. By then he worked for the family at their home in Colombey les deux Eglises where the former President lived and died. But I was always incredibly competitive in all I did and could not bear letting others get in before me. The only really good story I had first, but could not file, was a military helicopter crash in Cambodia in which two choppers hit each other with twelve people in one and two in the other. I saw it happen and it would have been a great story.

Why did I not file it?  Thirteen people were killed and the only survivor broke his spine. That was me!



<a href=””>Empty</a&gt;

the empty lives of two wartime smokers


“Empty the ashtrays, darling

Get rid of that awful smell

Of cigarette smoke wafting

Out of the windows as well.


I want the whole house empty

No family lives here any more.

Mum puffed her way to a coffin

Cancer showed Dad to the door.


Ok they were both almost ninety

You may say they had a good run.

But not us and the kids, watching

The only thing they ever called fun.


In wartime it calmed their nerves,

Maybe. But they never could stop.

Sixty a day gone on money wasted

In empty bank accounts not a drop,


Of security left for the young ones

Nothing valuable left to bequeath,

Just empty rooms, smelling of fags.

Two graves and a token red wreath”.



<a href=””>Companion</a&gt;

it’s a lovely feeling telling your companions the truth.


I am sorry if I had to keep you all in any suspense for this confession. Please don’t get too up tense or hate me because I have told the truth about myself at last, admitting the actions of my unsuspected past. Mentally tormented, I cannot live another day without telling every one I know, in some way, about what I am and and feel and what I have been naturally forced not to do. Mostly I regret the unhappiness I may have brought on others by spurning relationships with my closest friends. Yet, you surely understand, I could not die without tying up these loose ends and letting my fans, my loved ones, my whole world hear all my admissions of my true self which are here unfurled.

I wonder, after this, how in the future I will be remembered by you all? Will my family be proud, saddened or just ashamed to read that I have said this of myself? Are there those amongst you who will think it worse simply because it is true? Will it be totally unacceptable to so many of you because I have refused to dilute my feelings, refused to lie? I have been told that in such matters political correctness forbids delay. Everybody must know everything and seem to have the right to know it immediately. That is the world in which we live today. So without more ado, this is what I must say, not knowing the price I may have to pay. My dearest friends, all of you I love. You now no longer have to wait. This is what I am. I am sorry if I offend any of you, I love you all too much to ever wish to do that.

“I am a Catholic Christian. I actually believe my prayers are heard and answered. I love all God’s creatures, especially sad sinners of whom God knows full well that I am one. But, above all, I love the fact that I am straight. I am proud of it.



<a href=””>Companion</a&gt;

aren’t they everyone’s?


‘Springles’, our cat, is black and white

And insists on sleeping with us at night

How we put up with it goodness knows.

Ever slept with a tail right up your nose?

Then being the object of scratching claws

If you try to adjust his outstretched paws.


Our cat is also saintly, how can we tell?

By the way he meows his prayers so well,

When purring beside us, eyes shut tight

And head tucked in to keep out the light

As his ageing eyes don’t like the glare

Of our bed lamp shining on him there.


There isn’t really room enough for three

On the pillow, him, my dear wife and me.

But no matter how much we try to edge

Him down to our feet he’ll always wedge

His nose and ears up closer to our heads

And he’s vetoed the idea of separate beds.


So every night as my wife and I turn and toss

And he wakes us up, we sure know who’s boss

For his hungry yawns at six o’clock each day

Signal breakfast bowl time, then out to play.

Fourteen years now we’ve slept with our cat

But we love him and so we just give him a pat.


Do the rest of the family get treated this way?

No! The rest of them have to do what we say,

Sharing the housework, gardening and chores

“Washing up’s mine, today Hoovering’s yours.”

But Springles just lies in the grass and rolls over

Waiting to be tickled. A life of whiskers in clover!



<a href=””>Summer</

wondering what my wife will be thinking under anaesthetic, undergoing a major operation soon


My love  are you thinking of us both,

When plighting each to each our troth,

Of loving days and sweet maternity,

And swearing fidelity for all eternity?


Never doubt my passion nor your own,

A love like ours was no temporal device.

In all my prayers I have always shown

Thanks for your heart, the inner grace

That lit the fires we have always known,

Never dimming, still brightly so ablaze.


Our endless love has no sunset and no dawn,

Just a summer’s day filled with infinite hours

Of heartfelt heartbeats shared by us each morn.

Please guard them Lord. Please keep them ours.



<a href=””>Aimless</a&gt;

we should all aim less and embrace more.


‘Brexit’ demands that we all get out,

And Thursday we’ve been asked to vote.

Should we ditch all our European friends

To keep British economic hopes afloat?


The idea of abandoning many poorer folk

To give us more cash makes me feel as sick

As any sane American would feel next Fall

After giving Donald Trump a thumbs up tick.


There is no excuse in this modern world

For being selfishly mean or power mad.

Nobody from any country, by their birth

Alone, should be considered  as being bad.


Yet there are people from my native land

Who really believe unity, to be just a word  

That means being ‘un-British’ in some way,

I can’t think of anything so stupidly absurd.


I was born in WWII, bombs falling all round

The house which was my first earthly home.

But now, nearly seventy five years on, I call my

Enemies friends, thanks to the treaty of Rome.


I can’t run away from folk I’ve come to love,

My whole life would be a mockery, a waste.

No. I’d rather remain with my European kin

Than abandon them in selfish, hateful haste.



<a href=””>City</a&gt;

quite simply what the prompt made me write


I remember once being young enough to think that the world would never change. It would always be the autumn of 1960 and I would always live in our new home on the Ile Saint Louis in Paris. I would spend every day of my life going to early Mass and then walking the short distance to the Sorbonne to immerse myself in studying French, Italian, Spanish, history and music. Late in the day I would earn a lot of pocket money covering major European sports events for my father’s News Agency, because the American staff knew nothing about the subject and I was a fanatic. My paradise had come early and in the city of my dreams.

Paris was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. Everything was just as I wanted it to be as well. I never had breakfast at home. After serving Mass I would stop at a favourite Tabac on the Boulevarde Saint Michèle and have a croissant or brioche with a lovely steaming hot chocolate. There were always other students on their way to the university and we often had chats about everything under the sun. Lectures started soon after eight and it was constant study of a whole series of subjects relevant to French Mediaeval history until noon. Then three days a week I had four hours of various languages in the afternoon. On the other days it was music, in my case piano tuition and a couple of hours playing to continue the passion I had developed from the age of three in England. But Parisians also love eating.

Some days lunch would be in the university canteen, others just with a girlfriend at some nice restaurant she couldn’t afford but I could. Always she was invited for her ability to share my interests and my sense of fun. After an expensive, gourmet meal we would find time some days to see the really nice parts of Paris which we did not know. This did not mean all my companions were foreigners, not at all. Many French students came from far flung parts of the country and Paris was as much their first adventure in an unknown city as it was mine. The main places people wanted to see might include actual buildings like the Sacre Coeur or the Eiffel Tower, although I never ventured up it for reasons I shall explain. But my favourite pastime in my free hours was the art galleries, especially the Louvre and the Impressionist museum in the Tuilleries gardens. History of art was part of my course so this type of enjoyment was also very useful..

But I lived with my parents and my mother was terminally ill. I helped look after her as well. She was dying for most of my life and actually lasted out until I was nearly thirty. You can see that sanity could only be maintained in that sort of existence if you had two really important things in your life. Love, both spiritual and human, and the will to do everything you had to to fulfil the obligations that went with both. The other was money and we had always had plenty of that. I had a generous allowance from my father and I earned a lot through him as I have said, but then I needed a lot with the life I was forced to lead. I have often spoken in other posts and blogs about the crippling agoraphobia from which I have suffered all my life and in Paris this would have been a visit to hades without money. I had to take taxis everywhere for the first nine months until I passed my French driving test and could use the car. I couldn’t walk over any sort of river crossing so had to take cabs, or occasional buses if the stops were in the right places, if I was travelling to the right bank from the left or vice versa. But then, living on an island I had to use transport of some sort every time I went anywhere, every day to university at the start just to get off the Island. I couldn’t walk across a bridge. I still can’t.

But the beauty and friendliness of the city and its openly affectionate people made my life more than just manageable, it made itself into a place I thought I could never leave. I was only eighteen at the time I am talking about so I had no career even vaguely lined up in my mind. This was another world, a whole new adventure and I just wanted it to last forever. I soon got to know a lot of my father’s colleagues, through covering sports events and going back to the office to write about them. This sometimes meant having lunch with Dad and other journalists and I always got on well with them. I was blessed with a love of languages and ability to pick them up fast so was soon almost a member of the office staff, while also a university student. But my whole life was centred round seeing as much of a new culture in a beautiful city as I could manage.

Apart from time spent with mum, my sister also flew over from University in England at weekends to cheer her up, I loved taking visiting English friends to see the places I loved. This was especially true of Versailles, a half hour train journey out of town, which I think I went to with visiting friends and acquaintances about thirty times in my first year in the French capital. I almost became an expert on the place. But I had another way of helping deal with my awful phobia. Mass in the morning always got me off to a calming start but by the late afternoon I usually had either had a lot of alcohol with my lunch or, if it was a very busy day, would do so when eating at night. I also used to spend post sports events evenings with a stop off at a favourite bar and drink until about two in the morning. I actually got my first ulcer during my second year at university through lack of sleep. At least that was what the doctors put it down to. Nowadays we know ulcers can be caused by many different things. But filling up my Parisian life, right from the start, with so much to do was the only way I could live with my illness.

The strongest memory I have of that first term at university was getting home one night when Mum was feeling really bad and needed more medication, and being told I would die first if I carried on drinking so heavily. But she added one extraordinary comment, about three in the morning. “Why are you never drunk? You should be falling over with what you’ve had!” I told her I used my alcohol intake to control my phobia and it wore off as soon as I drank it. She just laughed and said I really had to give up fooling people into thinking I was mentally ill. She called it a poor excuse for enjoying myself. I gave up that night and never tried to make her accept my illness again.

But maybe that was what I really loved about Paris then, still so patriotically post war and so de Gaullistly anti-English. They accepted me because I was a Scots Australian, that was fine. The city satisfied all my needs, provided me with the chance to learn what I loved and love what I learned in every sense. It was vibrant, incredibly human and openly unashamed of the fact – nobody could have said that of the London which I had left! The people were all Catholics like me, well nominally, and I was later to learn how difficult it can be to live a life you only have to acknowledge and not really practise. Of course I knew it was the romantic and free love centre of Europe, but that did not matter as it would have done when I was much younger. Flesh pots were Satan’s hotels in England, not in Paris. Nobody even seemed to notice them, something I took time to understand. But at eighteen I was sexually inexperienced and had no immediate intentions of changing that, much as many of my student friends might have made me want to. I preferred Mass, piano music, and enjoying the human company of people so different to anything I had known before. In short I was just starting my introduction to a city and its life that I never wanted to end.

What a shame all our lives are complete operas and such brief interludes as my autumn of 1960, in the Paris of my innocent dreams, was only an overture.




<a href=””>Open</a&gt;

an open letter to the intolerant


I feel I have to write what I really feel, believe and want everyone to accept about the whole modern approach to the sexual orientation question as it affects and applies to all of us today.

Firstly I want to look at the world from a purely biological point of view. It is now accepted that there is a group of people which can be identified as forming the GLBTQ community. More importantly it is acknowledged to be a minority grouping because more than half the world’s population would not admit to being part of it. But biologically it is incomplete, there is a letter missing. ‘S’. If you add this it includes all of us when those letters stand for: gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual, queer and straight. So let’s add that S and see just what makes all the people under each heading different yet also the same as all the others. Watch. (Note all the = signs mean in a physical relationship, not mental, spiritual or social.)

G = a man who prefers sexually loving men. L= a woman who prefers sexually loving women. B = equals a man or woman who enjoys sex with both men and women. T= a man or woman who wants to, or already has, changed their gender because they feel they are biologically incorrectly gendered by birth. While preferring to be identified as their non-birth gender, they often still come under B for sexual enjoyment. Q = a person who actively seeks to flaunt their sexuality in order to seduce someone of their own sex. S = men and women who prefer to restrict their sexual love to a person who is of the opposite sex to themselves. But many in this category would have experimented with sexual relationships with people in the other divisions above but usually prefer someone of the opposite sex. Agreed? I hope so. The important thing about clarifying the biological aspect of the subject is that the vast majority of all people have a sexual drive of some sort, want to satisfy it and usually do in a wide variety of ways.

Ok, that is biology and it accounts for all of us and all our tastes in sexual relations. So why the fuss and the bad-mouthing of anybody for being a particular type of human being when it comes to how one wants to express one’s love and sexual attraction for another person? Well this is primarily a social question which can be divided into purely secular legal issues and religious teachings of right and wrong. Let’s look at the secular legal one first. In many countries now the law does not permit people to offend GLBTQ people purely on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Why not? If I tell a joke about a queer tranny, and it is really funny and is aimed only at being funny, how is it different to making a joke about a straight man’s mother-in-law? I have no idea, but I do know that minorities can have me arrested but majorities can’t. Daft. On the other hand I know offending people must stop somewhere.

I would be the first person to agree that openly bad-mouthing anybody for their sexuality is unpleasant, unkind, unnecessary and likely to provoke public disorder. It is simply not something anybody should do. But having a perfectly sensible discussion about how one feels on this subject, and saying that one does not like certain types of sexual orientation, is fine. In fact it is basically what I am doing here. But some idiots somewhere have decided to invent the word homophobia in order to make people who do not like homosexuality appear in some way in the wrong for saying so. Not only is that undemocratic, untrue and unnecessary, but more importantly it is completely inaccurate. A phobia is a fear not a dislike. The word homophobia is basically a neurotic anxiety condition describing people who have an irrational fear of a section of society. Well I do not like the idea of having any sort of sexual activity with a man, but it isn’t a fear. It is just my sexual preference. I have a lot of homosexual male and female friends and relations of whom I am very fond. It just stops there! Where we do have a problem, however, is when one set of people start telling others sets of people that, for religious reasons, being homosexual is wrong. And I mean wrong in the sense of sinful. That is rubbish and is not the teaching of any faith I have studied, and I have a doctorate in the history of world religions.

Where some faiths, and they are perfectly entitled to, condemn homosexual acts they do so on the grounds that the ACT is wrong, but the person can be forgiven. This is a very important distinction because it doesn’t leave anyone in the clear. In the Christian and Islamic faiths, for example, it is wrong to have sex outside holy wedlock. That’s all, that’s it. It is a sin for every GLBTQorS to have sexual activity with someone to whom they are not married. It doesn’t matter how you do it, who you do it with or anything else. Outside marriage it’s wrong. I know very few people in my world who manage to keep the right side of that blanket for the whole of their lives. Some, of course, but very few. It doesn’t make you a bad person, that depends on a whole host of other things, the main one is whether you are a basically good, kind, loving and caring human being. How you manage to stick to any other rules imposed by creeds which you might espouse is your affair. Just don’t point the finger at others on principle when you have no idea whether they are better or worse human beings than yourself. But I can’t leave this without touching on the really important social side of sexual acts. When do they become legally criminal?

I cannot excuse any sexual act that is not consensual, especially if it physically or mentally damages another person. Thus all rape, male and female, paedophilia, and seduction of those unable for any reason to fully understand what is going on, should be punishable by law and in most countries it is. The most difficult of those to decide sometimes concerns questions of the age of consent. For instance, is it wrong to pick up a thirteen year old call girl who looks seventeen? And is it really incest when two youngsters in the same family are just experimenting? Yes they shouldn’t, but it’s not a crime unless their parents let them. God what a world we live in.

Are you wondering what sparked all this off? No, of course you aren’t. That mass shooting in Orlando made a lot of us feel physically sick. But I felt more. I felt dreadfully sorry for the chap who did it! What sort of society did he live in that allowed him to be armed when law enforcement officers knew about him years earlier? He was mentally ill, all brain washed extremists are, and I personally included him in my prayers that night because I didn’t think anyone else would. You don’t send someone to hell because they’re bonkers.



<a href=””>Natural</a&gt;

explaining my natural contempt for psychiatrists


I was treated once by a psychiatrist who said

You’re doing nothing wrong by going to bed,

With someone for sex, when you’re not wed.

So throw all that unnatural guilt out your head.”

He said all natural feelings, except love of god,

Were normal and right and so I was a stupid sod

And thus mentally ill, for only trying to do right

And wasting my time saying prayers every night.

But he went even further, honestly, listen to this

He made the whole group give each other a kiss

Then share all their fears and acute mental pains

But banning talk of God, sex, or any fiscal gains.

Few of us took any notice of this, which backfired,

As he said he couldn’t cure any people who desired

To stay sunk in the depths of their natural depression

Which resulted, he said, from unnatural suppression.

I don’t know what they paid him to perpetuate my pain

And add lies to the confusion then torturing my brain,

But brain surgery, ECT, and alcohol he used on us a lot

So,when we committed suicide, he’d say,“see the sot

Took no notice of me and the medical advice I gave

He wouldn’t even give it a try or attempt to behave

Like a sensible natural person, doing exactly as he felt,

Instead of saying sorry for his sins as in prayer he knelt.”




<a href=””>Struggle</a&gt;

a strangely unusual struggle


There are few things more  annoying in this world than knowing you know something but being completely incapable of recalling details, names, faces and quotes surrounding a key event in your life. Mine is somewhat esoteric in it’s subject matter but nonetheless infuriating for that. I have no recollection at all of my first encounter with K482. 

If you’re wondering,  it is not an animal in Star Wars or a similar space oddity, far from it. It is the catalogue number of Mozart’s 22nd piano concerto in Eflat major – no he didn’t write twenty two concerti in the same key, it’s just that this one was in Eflat major – and I know I was 14 when I first saw it played at a concert,  – Oh no! You won’t believe this. A twelve year old kid has just rung my door bell and tried to sell me a hair brush while pleading he had been made redundant in a steelworks more than 150 miles away. Teach me to live in a posh area! – where was I?

Yes, I cannot construct any mental images of my introduction to a performance of K482.  What annoys me most is that the concerto is one of my favourite pieces of music, the whole world knows the final movement – well everyone who saw Amadeus does, that’s HOW they remember it – and I have studied and played it many, many times now. I think it was my grandmother who took me to the concert, she loved good music and would have pinched my father’s press tickets. Ah, a clue. Yes!! Dad had tickets for every BBC Promenade concert at the Albert Hall every year from 1948 to 1960 so it must have been there. I think. So let me concentrate. I had heard it on the radio of course, and messed about with the solo piano score, but never seen it at a concert. Now it was almost certainly 1956 and I think school had not long broken up for the summer or I would have taken a friend.

You can’t hear it but I’m playing the concerto through my headphones while I write this. But it isn’t helping much. Ah, that’s one reason why. The pianist has just played the final cadenza, the one which Benjamin Britten wrote for Sviatislav Richter in 1966 when I was nearly twenty four! So it wasn’t that version. Hang on though, another clue. That cadenza. Many people play Britten’s version nowadays, and before that Paul Badura-Skoda’s cadenza,  (1958?) was very popular, it was not that either. I wish I could make my memory hear. It doesn’t have any trouble with hearing 1956 radio comedy shows so why can’t it pick up that concerto? I’ve been to literally hundreds of proms over the years so picturing the auditorium doesn’t help. Wait, but it does.

 – Oh blow! I’m doing the meal tonight as my wife’s ill and I haven’t prepared the Bolognese sauce yet. They’ll have to wait. No, they can’t there’s footie on the tele.-  Where was I? Yes another clue. I do remember that the soloist and the conductor were not dressed the same. Yes, of course. He was in evening dress and tails, they always were in those days, so the pianist must have been wearing a dress. It was a woman. Mozart so often is, especially this concerto. Now what women were around then? Hess, Lympany, Bachauer, Nikolyeva, Fuchsova, – Strewth! Of course. I’ve got a dreadful mind but that must be right. I made a joke about the pianist’s name when we got home and dad was not amused. So Lisa Fuchsova played the first ever K482 I ever saw? Really? She could have done, but if she did she always played the cadenzas by Hummel, never Mozart’s own cadenzas in either the first or third movements. And I can vaguely hear that particular passage in the final movement because the first time I ever SAW anyone play that Mozart concerto they definitely added bits by someone else. Hummel’s were the only popular alternatives in those days. So who was conducting?

It should  be easy now. Sir Malcolm Sergeant was the only conductor I saw at the proms before 1958 and he always directed the BBC symphony Orchestra. So the immaculate show off would have been in charge! –  hang on. I have to do this Bolognese for my gourmet trio, quartet if you include me. It’s a new original recipe I’m trying  by adding some Thai grains in with the green peppers when sauteeing them before adding them to the sauce. Mmmm….yes, lovely! Well they all seemed to like it. My son says it is just the thing before a match but Italy were playing last night so why didn’t I do it then? Can’t remember.

 – Talking of remembering let’s get back to K482. I’ve got the soloist, the Orchestra, the venue, the conductor and even whose cadenzas were played. That’s not bad. But what else was on the programme? Yes, got it. It was the first time I ever heard Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. It was dreadful, but then I never have liked his music. Hooray, I can retire satisfied to the lounge just in time to catch the Portugal game. My son’s just asked me what I’d been blogging about as I sat down. So I told him my struggle with my memory. Three minutes later he said,

“Dad, that was probably Tuesday July the 31st at the Albert Hall in a prom concert. It was being played by Lisa Fuchsova and Sergeant was conducting the BBC SO. Did you stay for that awful Strauss?” I gaped at him as he turned his i-pad towards me. It was on the BBC Proms archive site which has every concert listed, with full details, since the first in 1895. I could cheerfully have hit him.




















I wrote this to try to complete a wonderful impromptu challenge which I read on Judy Dykstra-Brown’s wordpress site ‘Lifelessons’. Basically, after she had written a beautiful poem, do read it, she had 33 words left over and challenged anyone to use them as the rhyming words in a poem. They are the very last words in each line of the following great fun effort. Thanks Judy.


From his dead corpse, I watched slowly ooze
Liquid detritus. It was all that constant booze
At last leaving him on his binge crazed cruise.
But tell me, honestly, does anyone know who’s
Responsible for giving liquor to anyone whose
Alcoholic record gives him the right to choose
Such an end? Sure, the cruise liner would lose
A few bucks not fold up, but that’s hardly news.
Then a burial at sea, praying in the chapel pews,
Before they swabbed the decks, and all his poos
Were potted like black balls hit by billiard cues.
A rich chap’s paid for revels, they know he sues
So the next night couples, clinging tight in twos
Can get their fill of sweetly well rehearsed woos,
In a true romantic setting.“Aw gee, honey, youse
De only gal I love.” French, she pouts “ Doozie
Uzzer gals mean nussing, eh?Ave you no floozie
‘Idden away?” He swears “we are only a twozie”.
Jean-Paul creeps up behind them shouting “Boo”
Her suitor spins round, slipping on a piece of goo
Unseen, and falls. His face, a radish coloured hue,
Makes her laugh loudly as she hastens to the loo.
A very drunken Englishman thinks, the silly moo
(Stupid cow) to lose the chance to buy all the new
Ou’fits she needs. Also, if she treated him like poo
She could claim it was ‘is fault and e’entually sue
For di’orce and make a few more bucks quite soo’.
He was so drunk he hailed a passing young sioux
“ is it a fancy dress do?” then falling overboard too.
All the revellers on the cruise were then invited to
Raise their glasses to sing “happy birthday to you”
To the captain, pants at half mast, what a spectacle!
A laugh for the passengers but really not respectable.



<a href=””>Mountain</a&gt;

                         the way each of our five senses can appreciate a mountain

                                    PEAKS OF SENSATION


Travelling up in an aeroplane I see, in the sunset tinted sky,

A whitey pink high mountain peak, as over it we silently fly.

Is it a sharp, craggy sword piercing each cloud on our flight,

Or a land of dreaming fantasies confusing my passing sight?


The music, is it that of Grieg, echoing down a mountain scarp?

Are the sounds of the icy mountain stream trickling in E sharp?

Do I hear, in mountain caves, waves lapping towards the shore?

The hammering sound is it mining gold for the mountains store?


Sparse grass and shrubs give off a scent redolent of a mountainside

Also I can smell pure mountain air as I tramp up green slopes wide.

The sea foam’s scent is blown so high I sniff it on the mountain top

And flowers give off a perfume sweet as to the mountain foot I drop.


I can feel the mountain’s slippery rocks protruding from either side

I pat a goat, and watch it jump to a ledge off which it can never slide.

I clutch gorse stumps to steady myself as on the mountain side I slip

For mountains are high and I might die if I tripped and lost my grip.


Feeling hungry I pick the mountain berries, their soft sweet fruit to eat,

And the mountain’s soft snow, in winter time, when fresh eaten is a treat.

Now for a drink I kneel at the mountain stream, my thirst there to quench

But, if amorous, amid the mountain’s flowers, I may kiss my lovely wench.