My earliest memories are of the world my dad inhabited of technical drawings and paraphernalia from the commercial aviation world that he inhabited. This sense of beauty regarding engineering products; just the general pursuit of excellence, has been a basic inspiration in my life.
Despite my drawings and paintings regularly being admired and put on the walls at school I had to sit the wretched 11plus exam, which was a test of how dull and boring a child, was. My disinterest in dull arithmetic processes like “long division”, which make a mockery of the wonderful world of mathematics, ensured my total failure. I don’t, in retrospect, regret not going to any of the local grammars. What I would have now liked would be a comprehensive that took art seriously. The stuff of dreams. Schools then, and now, reflect the bigotry of the adult world. They are penal systems in disguise that enforce concepts of intelligence that are essentially “bourgeoisie”. Liberation from all this nonsense via the comprehensive system resulted in cries of “social engineering” from entrenched factions. Roll on social engineering! The “secondary modern” I went to dropped art after the 1st year.
But my head took body blows from other directions. Upheaval in my Dad’s life and a general awkward disposition on my part had strange effects. By thirteen I was becoming a chronic dreamer with strange compulsions concerning “dirt” in the world about me. These feelings of “filth” that wanted to devour me were an overwhelming sense of pollution and control associated with those middle-class values that prevailed in the environment of suburban London I grew up in. Forget all you have heard about “mental illness”. There is no such thing. Just life that we navigate with greater or lesser degrees of success.
By the time I was fifteen the world was such a strange, poisonous place that I could not inhabit it.