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Where to start? Basics: I am British, white, male. Hmm, doesn’t say much, does it? I am of the view that our history says more than a bland list of interests so maybe that’s where I should start.

Umm, I lived through the 60’s, saw Thatcherism in all its unfeeling ignorance of anything except market forces and the consequent rise of the “Me” culture.

I started life in a small cottage in a rural area and was lucky (?) enough to pass for my local grammar school, where I distinguished myself by my dedication to mediocrity. I have a feeling this was because, for some early reason, I found rejection unusually painful and to try would hold the possibility of public failure and embarrassment.
On reflection I see that this pain gave rise to anger and to my adopting a strategy of “getting in the first blow” before I was rejected. I was thus often the loser in this. An example? I was very much in love with a girl in my teens (at that time, couples tended to marry young and it was therefore not unusual that I asked that we become engaged). She, however, being wiser, said she would prefer to wait until she had completed a particularly important project for her future. And I, being egotistic and hurt, metaphorically walked away without ever saying anything, for to confess my hurt laid me open to further rejection. And that set quite a pattern for my life; I didn’t attend interviews for things if I didn’t feel 90% certain of success; I pursued interests, hobbies and sports to a point where I knew that I could be quite good if I followed them with focus. And that is when I moved onto something new – for dedication required public acknowledgement of my desire to succeed and so the possibility of public failure.
Was this all bad? Yes, for those who didn’t understand why I appeared to act in an apparently self-destructive (to outsiders) manner and were thus hurt and, I suppose, bemused by what I got up to. And I have felt guilty about the things that resulted in others’ lives. I often wonder what happened……..

Having no awareness of career options I followed an obvious route (for my circumstances) and went into industry, initially to earn some money, as my father had had a severe coronary and we would soon be a home without an income; my brother having married, left home and having his own expenses to cope with. I drifted. I was offered a student apprenticeship by the firm I had initially joined to earn hard cash and (with a 100% chance of getting the job!) I took it. I passed the exams and so became an industrial technologist. My time as such was again one of being “not too successful”. By a series of “job offers” (note, no interviews) I became a safety officer (chemical safety); a safety and training officer; a personnel and training officer and ended up, one day, in the position of having a nice redundancy settlement (I did volunteer for that one, even with a chance of rejection.)

So there I was. Vaguely aware that, all my life I had done jobs at which I could possibly have been good with some effort but none of which had really satisfied me. And now I had the wherewithal to train for something I might actually want to do.

Here, I have to introduce another thread, if you really want to know about me?
I had joined the local youth club, for social outlets were not abounding in a village, and this was run by the church, offering such delights as fortnight summer camps (and girls of course!). The price to pay was attendance at services.
My father had, on his bookshelves, a bible with the dedication to him for winning a scripture prize at school. There were as always at that time, a wealth of photographs around including those of him as a choir boy. Yet, I discovered at around 15 or 16, he was now an atheist. Being aware that religion was usually something that stuck, I used to discuss this change with him and he would cite his war experiences and would lend me books on rationalism and similar. Meanwhile, my mother was fairly quiet on the subject but occasionally asked to attend services with me. I found that her father came from a Quaker family and that, nevertheless, he had been in the army at the beginning of the twentieth century and had fought in and seen the atrocities of African wars. Yet he had always expressed his interest in religion and had spoken to my mother of his admiration for the beliefs of the Muslims whom he had met.
This difference in two mens’ experience of war fascinated me and I found a hunger for books on philosophy and religions generally. After many visits to different faiths, I came to a point of realising that spiritual questions were important to me. This thread has continued with me throughout my life.
But back to the story! These two threads came together. I felt I had some sort of deep call to ministry – and here I was with the cash to finance it. I’ll say little more. I was not accepted at a selection conference because my “theology was too radical” and “I would not be happy ministering to the middle classes, needing to be in a poor parish, if any” – and, without doubt, the church of England was mainly middle class! What to do?

After a lot of thought (prompted by the emotional tangle caused by “rejection”) and a kind employer who paid for me to attend Vocational Guidance, I realised that my conviction that I should become a priest was based, completely, on the pastoral part of the job. The counsellor from vocational guidance had given me several ideas and I took a number of temporary jobs while I mulled things over. Meanwhile I had found a spiritual home among the Quakers and read much on the work that they had done.
Sitting outside a pub one lunchtime, one of my fellow employees remarked that I should join a proposed local project working on alternatives to custody for Young Offenders. Blimey! Never thought of that. And Social Work was one of the options suggested to me by the counsellor. I applied and was accepted. Clearly I was coming to terms with my dislike of rejection, for I had little in the way of qualifications.
This turned out to be a brilliant experience. I learned and learned, I met all sorts of people and I had an assortment of colleagues with widely differing views on everything.
Ultimately I was offered a chance of professional training and applied and was accepted on a master’s course at Kent University. Not having a first degree meant that the chance of rejection was high; more self discovery.
From there to a team specialising in conflict in families with adolescents, with a brilliant supervisor. But by now my lovely daughters were becoming adolescents themselves and I didn’t want to social work them, I wanted to be a dad.
So I moved into mental health in the Adult sector and that is where I worked. Until one fine day I was driving along the M25 motorway and needing to apply the brakes suddenly, found myself skidding all over the place – although the brakes did not appear to be working. Coming to a halt, I got out of the car and promptly fell over. I had no sensation in my right leg!
Unable to work, two failed attempts at back surgery brings me here. A life of medication, chronic pain, disability and a low income. Now you have “about me” as it says, way up there at the top.
But life is not just my story. There is Jill, who took pity on me and married me and who has put up with a great deal – actually more than a great deal, she must have done something terrible in her last life. But she gave me two wonderful daughters, Anna and Jenny of whom, in spite of what they may believe, I am immensely proud. And all the others who were there to prod, encourage, advise, admonish, challenge, offend, blame and yes, reject me. To those I owe a lot – and for no other reason than that, I am going to list them (with apologies to any who feel they should be included – email me and I’ll put your name down.) Confidentiality precludes full names so, in no particular order:

Mr A., Les B., Jill H., Clive H., Doug H., Bernard S., Linda K., Michael B., Anthony A., Ewa M., Janet S., Susan H.D., John M., Stuart A., Douglas B., Jacqueline S., Barbara B., Ian K., Jenny H., Dennis B., Anna H., Stefan B., Carol P., Ann B., Kathryn L., Victor T., Hans N., John W., George F., Herman H., Charles B., Harry H., Annie H., Richard E., Carl R., Gerry T.,
(To be continued)

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2010 1:07 am


  2. September 11, 2010 11:30 am


  3. September 30, 2010 2:21 pm

    I think in terms of raw facts, that has told me more about you than about 10 years acquaintance ever has.
    And yet, it told me nothing I didn’t already surmise; this is the backstory of a man I know but don’t know.
    Thank you.
    I’d like to think I might have been on that list but except as an occasional thorn in your side, I have no claim to be there.

    • September 30, 2010 10:58 pm

      Hmmm, good point about your presence on the list. At the moment it has only reached 20 years ago – and then I had to stop myself because until then I was an enthusiastic, try anything new, who gives a damn about the consequences (to me) type of guy, in terms of my own experience choices. Dangerous emotional territory for someone in my present situation. We became acquainted not long after it all fell apart and you are part of my present life and person, for which I am not ungrateful old bean.

      • October 1, 2010 11:47 am

        Glad to hear it.
        I was reckoning up the length of our acquaintance and it is 7 years minimum and 10 max, based on the year I know I was a member of Sacred Hoop.
        I am serious when I suggest we meet up some time, you know. I’m sure you’re quite a safe chap to meet as I am certain I can run faster than you….! One day, British Museum and round the corner for a Thai meal at a favourite restaurant, on me of course…?

  4. October 1, 2010 10:19 am

    Hi Ian,
    The smiley achieved more than what words could…or at least “my” words could – because I really don’t have a way with words.
    Thanks for the post. It’s wonderful to learn about you from you:)
    I don’t know if your pain can go away, but loving care can definitely reduce your discomfort from it.
    Warm Regards,

  5. October 7, 2010 9:37 am

    🙂 Again!

    (Past experience suggests that smileys have a stronger impact on Mr. Holliday’s motivation to post.)


    • October 7, 2010 8:59 pm

      What are you nagging me for now, Shafali?

      • October 13, 2010 3:35 am

        For more posts:) What else?!
        Now talking to myself, so don’t read this ! (Nagging? well…well. You try to motivate people and this is what you get…)


  1. Announcement – Blog Carnival for Bloggers – Tell the Story-in-the-Caricature – October 2010 – Edition 5! « Shafali's Caricatures

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