01. childhood

Can we go back to your childhood?


I was born in England in Derbyshire. My father was a journalist and then we went to the Second World War and my mother was a personal private secretary by choice so my parents were working people. During my early childhood I was looked after by my grandmother who was decidedly Edwardian - that was lovely. I went to a village school and I was rather shy and quiet by disposition and somewhat dreamy and I went to that school until I was 9 or 10 and it appeared I would not achieve by eleven, plus the education system was divided into grammar school or technical school. It wasn't that I was incapable it was just that I was somewhat quiet and my parents decided to send me to a private school which was just up the road from where my mother worked and I quite liked that. I was an only child.


When you went to this school how did that affect your leisure?


It meant that I was inward looking and rather introverted and inclined to read a lot, play a lot of imaginative games by myself and I had a pretend world. My father was a book reviewer so I always had a lot of books to read and I had a dolls house and a garden to play in, I'd be a fairy and run around the garden and I'd be a horse and I'd jump over things and I'd ride my bicycle down the lane. I was quite insular by inclination which I still am I ended up as an artist, my parents were literary I was literary but more of a visual person.


My father had a sister and there were two cousins there who I liked a lot and they had a farm about 30 or 40 miles away and I would spend my holidays there with my cousins. I liked being there a lot and again I was quite happy to be by myself. I suffered as a child my mother worked hard and was probably overwhelmed and was somewhat impatient and I think I became more introvert because of an overworked and over tired woman who had too much to do in the 40s and I was the recipient of the frustration and anger but my personality was of the sensitive type so I was probably more inclined to be affected by it than others but I think it was environmental the consequences of coming out of a very difficult period of time families were disrupted when the father went away the whole of society became somewhat fractured and disorientated. It’s not until I became an adult that I can understand what that period must have been like.


I liked the private school I went to because it gave me personal attention and it was a little bit more academic. My father got another job after the war ended he went to Nottingham to a different sort of newspaper and became a sub editor. My mother got a job as a second secretary and my father's group of newspapers was the Guardian series and he got a job in Lancaster which is up in the North West [England] so we all had to up and move which my mother and I didn't like and I found that a bit distressing leaving my friends.


Did you spend much time with your friends?


I think if one spends a decade or so in one place one has a community. I don't know if I was excessively gregarious I had friends but I wasn't part of a pack I was very much an individual. I had a little friend next door and I had lots of nice friends at the private school. I was just getting to the point in my adolescence where I was developing my friends and I found that very stressful but Lancaster was a very nice city and I was sent to a very nice modern girls school. 

Next: 2. early education