Misadventures of a Monk
It has taken some carful consideration to finally write this small glimpse into my life growing up in the 70’s and 80’s of rural England. I suffered terribly as a child, and carried childhood issues with me for a long time. The consideration taken has been for my parents, I don’t want to paint them in a bad light, they were also growing up themselves when they had me, and made mistakes like we all do. It took many years for myself to finally deal with my childhood issues and put them truly to bed. I love my parents dearly, but it took a long journey of discovery to get there, let me share it with you.
As a child I was, how shall I say, a little mischievous, I would be getting into trouble at school and home on a pretty regular basis, I was a energetic lad, the eldest of two younger brothers, and together we used to go exploring and adventuring around our little village in the English countryside. The games and fun, being able to run free across fields, through streams and woodlands, I feel privileged and very lucky to of grown up in the time and era I did.
My mischievous or cheeky nature would inevitably get me into trouble, I was once dared to climb a bookcase in the library, during a story time lesson, of course I got caught. My brothers and I used to love sticking rotten apples onto the ends of bamboo canes and throwing them at each other, braking greenhouse windows in the process, I would continuously climb out of my bedroom window 2 stories high, to escape being locked in, even when I was a baby and in a cot, apparently, I tried to escape so many times my mother and father decided, after I got my head trapped in the bars, to strap me down into the cot to sleep.
At seven years old I tripped up on a small front step of a shop and crashed head first through the glass window, skidding to a stop inside the shop to the shock and horror of customers, it caused a great split through the left side of my mouth. It took 16 stitches to fix, 8 on the inside of my mouth and 8 on the outside. I can still remember the incident so clearly. If that wasn’t bad enough, the very next weekend I knocked out the stitches by banging my face on the stair railings, playing tag against my brothers. Another trip to hospital and a further 8 stitches inside and 8 outside.
Myself and a friend got ourselves badly drunk on Martini and lemonade before we were 12, it started so innocently, then quickly turned into a living nightmare, my friend cracked his jaw when he fell, blood everywhere. Being so young we didn’t know what to do, so we had no choice but to go back to parents. I also had a go at smoking before I turned 12, and all because I thought my illusive dad looked cool, soon got found out by mum doing the laundry.
Amongst some other worldly occupations, I wanted to be a stuntman when I grew up and would be flinging myself out of trees tops, or jumping off garage roofs on a pretty regular basis. A dangerous hobby indeed, and amazingly I never broke a bone in my body.
I had a conventional upbringing with both my parents being there, although I would still grow up with parental resentment issues, like I think all of us so to some extent. I tried running away from home at least 10 times before I reached 13. Parents were different back then and their solution seemed to be that I would return when I got hungry. My father has worked hard all his life, especially when we were small, he was usually out to work before us and return late after us. At weekends he used to enjoy playing sport, and there were many occasions when me and my two brothers would spend hours in the back of a car in a pub car park, just killing time. Kids were not allowed in bars in those days so amazingly a lot of kids would spend there weekend evenings like this. I know, right.
We also had corporal punishment at school, it was fazed out as I progressed towards senior school, but as a result of being mischievous I had the cane or wooden spoon across my hand on numerous occasions from both headmaster and parents. I almost had my mouth washed out with soap and so glad it didn’t happen to me, I did witness it happen to a friend by a Mrs McGregor at our infants school, the one where your aged 5-8. A horrific ordeal, my friend also told me he tasted soap for days. The canning’s we soar and would leave a mark, the worst of it was trying to hide the marks from your parents or you’d get another thrashing.
From my mischievous behaviour and general cheekiness, I was or seemed to be in and out of trouble a lot at school and with my folks, my apparent role from young was to make sure my brothers didn’t get into any trouble. If they did it seemed to be my fault. I found childhood a little unfair, hard, mean and hypocritical, I felt slightly unloved and unloveable, leaving me with very little direction, ambition and confusion about life. These childhood traumas would follow and haunt me for the next 25 years, no matter how far I traveled.
After leaving school I was told quite frankly “right son now you earn a living to stay under this roof” so I did what I had to do and got a job. An office job of shear boredom, met a girl and then was two timed behind my back with the guy I shared a desk with. I didn’t hang around and instead decided travelling was for me, I packed a small bag and headed off on my motorcycle. Didn’t get far, managed to get to my grandma’s about 100 miles away. She calmed and soothed my broken heart and sent me home. I returned home determined to travel the world.
Again my dad put me straight “you need money to do that son, get a job” he’s right!
So I did, this time working mowing a golf course not yet opened to the public. It was a YMCA association and a place called Fairthorne Manor. It’s main purpose was to look after city kids on holidays from London or Manchester who in there normal lives we unable to see or experience nature and the countryside. The golf course was there to make money for the project.
It was hear, at Fairthorne Manor, that my life changed forever and my life adventure begins. It was here at Fairthorne Manor that I would get to meet Princess Anne of the British Royal Family, being the Patreon saint and figure head of the YMCA. This cemented my career so to speak working outdoors in the countryside. Well with Princess Anne on your CV it sort of opens up doors. I’ve since worked for the Barings family, Cavendish family, Sainsbury family, Heineken family and a couple of other great historical family names I’ve had to sign confidentiality agreements with. And getting to work on some of the most beautiful English country estates that you only get to see in period dramas or the movies.
But it was also at Fairthorne Manor that I really got that itch to go travel, I had discovered weed and other recreational drugs while working alongside Australian’s and Kiwi’s, they not only got me stoned, they also gave me a new emphasis and determination to see the world.
I remember someone had a book of jobs from around the world, in it I found and applied for two, one in Nigeria building a school and one in Costa Rica looking after a cloud forest. I got the cloud forest gig, I just needed to get there……….