Bit About Me ...
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.
the one in the middle. My sister Mary is on
the left of the pic, and her friend is on the right.
Me & Brenda, Salisbury 1954
The No.10, South Tay Street, 1996
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!
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?'
you keep at it long enough, your
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.
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
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.
Tube Station, 1971
achieve my lifelong ambition and get as far away from home as
I possibly can.
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.
Devil's Cataract, 1974
after this picture was taken, my sister Mary
died suddenly in South Africa. She had just turned twenty-nine,
and she died in childbirth.
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.
was now that, for the first time, I began reading, and discovered
some of the people I've written about on this web site.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
and T.S.Eliot, 1989
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.