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My Chaplet

A Bit About Me ...

birthday party

This is my favourite photo of myself. It was taken on my 2nd Birthday, in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia.  Neither the child nor the country exists any more.

I'm the one in the middle. My sister Mary is on the left of the pic, and her friend is on the right.

Mary, Me & Brenda, Salisbury 1954

The No.10, South Tay Street, 1996

And just to bring us up to date, here's a more recent shot of me doing what I do well - drinking a glass of wine in the pub!

Although I daresay I'm a basically religious type, I confess I haven't lived a very holy life.  In  fact, I'm the sort of person who can spend hours and hours gazing into the bottom of a wine glass, wondering 'Which road in life shall I follow?' (Descartes).

If you keep at it long enough, your

Cheers, all
whole life can pass without your ever having to actually do anything, either for yourself or anyone else. Trust me. 

Anyway, since this is my 'about me' page, I suppose I'd better say something about myself.


Fact File

I was born in Scotland, but my parents emigrated to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) when I was a year old and I lived there, more or less, 'til I was twenty-two. The family made a lot of trips back and forth between Africa and Britain, and I've crossed the equator eight times altogether. I have certificates from Neptune to prove it.  I have other certificates as well, but these are the most important ones.

I was completely useless at school, and the height of my mother's ambition for me was that I would one day get a job on the sweetie counter in Woolies, which probably wouldn't have been such a bad thing to have done, in retrospect.   However, my destiny lay elsewhere.

I left school just as soon as I could, and worked in a book shop 'til I had enough money to buy a ticket to England, to London specifically, which in those days was the centre of the universe.

  Victoria Tube Station, 1971

I achieve my lifelong ambition and get as far away from home as I possibly can.

After drifting around for a couple of years, doing nothing much in particular, I got a job in a casino, and there I met my now husband, and the two of us went back to Africa to work in Victoria Falls.

Engerland swings
Back in Africa The Devil's Cataract, 1974

Shortly after this picture was taken, my sister Mary died suddenly in South Africa. She had just turned twenty-nine, and she died in childbirth.

After this, nothing could ever be the same again. I couldn't go back to my useless, vacuuous life, and was driven by a need to make sense of what had happened, and to gain some understanding of the meaning of life if there was one.

the Devil's Cataract

It was now that, for the first time, I began reading, and discovered some of the people I've written about on this web site.

I'd always been a Christian, because I was brought up a Christian, but I needed a deeper, more satisfying form of religion than the dry, dusty, Protestantism I'd been raised on.

First of all I turned to philosophy, and read a lot of Plato. I loved Socrates, who seemed such a wise, stoical, surprisingly sensible man to me.   Plato's greatest gift to me was to make me question all my taken-for-granted concepts of the world. He made me realise it was legitimate, and even necessary, to challenge received wisdom. This was very liberating for someone who's been taught that you simply do not question anything handed down by your elders and betters (i.e. the teacher, the minister, the parents, the government, etc. etc.).

I also read a lot of Buddhism, Hinduism and Christian Mysticism. Mainly through the writings of Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, I felt strongly drawn to the Catholic church, and converted to Catholicism in 1982.

At this point I decided to get myself educated: better late than never. Fortunately for me, I'd already covered most of the material I would need in the first year or two of my course, so I was able to spend most of my time in the pub. In addition to which, because I was a 'mature' student, the government gave me more money than everybody else. I'd certainly landed on my feet.
Me and T.S.Eliot, 1989

At the end of four years, I had an M.A.Hons, and at the end of another four years, a PhD. Being a 'doctor' hasn't made much of an impact on my life, or anyone else's for that matter.  I've certainly never made any significant contribution to knowledge - or anything else, and it's starting to look like I never will.

From the middle of 1982, all through my university career, and up to the present day, I've suffered from an illness which nobody's ever heard of.   For the scientifically minded among us, it's called 'dermatomiositis', which just means inflammation of skin and muscles. Basically, your immune system attacks you, making all your muscles waste away. Very unfriendly. Anyway, we survived - my muscles and me. Smaller in mass, perhaps, but greater in spirit!

Nowadays I spend my time writing, working at my computer, going to Mass, doing my duties in the Legion of Mary, taking my mother for her shopping, and generally trying to be useful round the house.

Fifty years of experience have made me prefer the idea of the next world to the reality of this one, though I wouldn't want you to think I'm gloomy and miserable in my life. Not at all. I'm often overwhelmed by the beauty and goodness of the world, and I know I have a very important job to do, as you do, making sure I add to the beauty and don't increase the ugliness. 

If I think of anything else to say, or any other pages to add, I'll get back to it. In the mean time, thank you for listening. I hope you've enjoyed my web site, and that it has been interesting to you. God Bless.