Autobiography

A summary of my life

I was born in 1944, left public school at the age of 16, and started an engineering apprenticeship in a Manchester locomotive works. Later I gained a BSc in Sociology as an external student of London University. I worked for seven years in the Civil Service, mostly as an immigration officer at London Airport, during which time I studied Arabic. During this time I walked from John O’Groats to Lands End in stages.

Between 1975 and 1977 I walked from London to Cairo, spending eight months in Paris, three months in Vienna and three months in Israel on the way.

After marrying Angie back in Vienna, where I’d met her on my walk, we returned to Cairo to work in a secondary school for a year. From there we travelled on round the world, spending three months in Tokyo. Our son, Philip, was born back in London in 1979, after which we moved to Saudi Arabia where for nine years I worked for the national airline, Saudia, in English language training. Our daughter, Julia, was born in Jeddah in 1982.

On our return to live in Brighton in 1989, I studied in London for an MA (of Antioch University, Ohio) in the Psychology of Therapy and Counselling. I went on to do doctoral research at the University of Sussex on the early psychoanalyst colleague of Freud, Wilhelm Stekel. Meanwhile I started to practise as a counsellor in primary care, and also privately.

My doctoral studies took place in the context of the Centre for German Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex. Through this Centre I was contracted to translate a number of German-Jewish books, including a biography of Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. I translated this last with the help of Angie.

But as a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, I found the atmosphere of the Centre problematical. It was this which led me into active campaigning for the Palestinians. I served two terms as Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) between 1998 and 2001, and meanwhile founded and chaired the Brighton & Hove branch.

In 1997 I separated from Angie and we moved to different houses in Brighton and Hove respectively and some years later we divorced. I was awarded my doctorate in 1999, and then in 2000 my father died and my mother moved to Hove. I then became responsible for arranging her care until she also died, in 2006.

In 2005 I inaugurated a series of classes under my organisation called ‘Invitation to Learn’ which sought to combine psychology, sociology, philosophy and politics. These finally ended in 2010 when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, for which I have been successfully treated. A couple of years earlier I had also retired from counselling. At the beginning of 2011 I published my doctoral thesis under the title Freud’s Apostle.

In 2009 I married Christine at Brighton Unitarian Church, of which we soon after became members. We are now both very active members of the church. Christine is the treasurer, I occasionally lead services and together we edit the monthy Newsletter.

In April 2011 I was expelled from the Brighton & Hove branch of PSC for alleged anti-Semitism, following my questioning of aspects of ‘the Holocaust’. A month later I was expelled from national PSC for the same reason. In January 2012 I unsuccessfully appealed my expulsion from national PSC, thereby fuelling a debate about PSC’s preoccupation with the sensitivities of Jews at the expense of the Palestinians.

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I publish here 25 episodes of an account of my life up to the time I moved to the North Laine, Brighton. These were written for the bi-monthly North Laine Runner, a community magazine, and the issues in which they appeared, under the general title ‘How did I get here?’ are indicated below. I have done a limited amount of editing of the text. Click on the links for each episode.

Life Before the North Laine, Brighton

Episode 1: How did I get to the North Laine? (January-February 1999)

Episode 2: In the afterglow of the war (March-April 1999)

Episode 3: The playing fields of Shrewsbury (July-August 1999)

Episode 4: An Englishman’s Castle was my Home … and my Prison (November-December 1999)

Episode 5: Confused Boundaries (January-February 2003)

Episode 6: Dark Satanic Mill (1) (July-August 2003)

Episode 7: Dark Satanic Mill (2) (September-October 2003)

Episode 8: Lancaster Interlude

Episode 9: Not North of Watford

Episode 10: North of Watford Again

Episode 11: Fellows Students & Love

Episode 12: Graduation & Germany

Episode 13: Teaching & Nursing

Episode 14: Civil Service

Episode 15: New Directions

Episode 16: Walking Watford to Paris

Episode 17: Walking Paris to Vienna

Episode 18: Walking Vienna to Serbia

Episode 19: Walking Serbia to Istanbul

Episode 20: Walking in Asia

Episode 21: Walking Jerusalem to Cairo

Episode 22: Marriage, World Tour & Birth of Philip

Episode 23: London, Jeddah & Brighton

Episode 24: Dhahran to North Laine

Episode 25: He who lives by the station, shall die by the station!

 

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