Introduction and Chapter Guide

 This is my sixth attempt at writing about my life as a teenager and beyond. The life I led back then was peculiarly slippery. There were always plenty of opportunities for self improvement  where pursuing the offers took that long that the improvement seemed like a backward step when done. I would be told that I was 'Too old' to be improved by what I pursued-it was meant to help younger people and the age appropriate improvement I should have chased was now unavailable. What I remember most from those times is how often what I was told to believe proved to be more opaque about peoples actions and intent than I could read as being at the time. 


My family disliked change and slowed down every natural change that growing up involves by mis-describing life for the young and making it a half life. My mission as a teenager was to try and find out who I actually was, as opposed to accepting who other people said I was. Nearly every time I guessed rightly who I was then other people, particularly my family, would say I was wrong because their self interest lay in preserving the younger cheaper, and more passive versions of me. My parents thought  that they were parenting me well by stopping me growing up and forcing me whilst under their roof to think of myself in the most detached terms humanly possible.

With each previous attempt at writing before this one, who I actually was would appear on the page and then disappear as the opacity of my parents took over the narrative. Just like my family were when was when when I was young. Who I actually was in the writing I would get hidden behind any distraction they could manufacture, the less for me to be able to make decisions by and for myself. direct, It was not his fault that my teenage self has been so hard to track down through writing. He was always being eclipsed by his parents narrative about him at the time.

As Billy Bragg neatly puts it 'They tuck you up/your mum and and dad.'. Please accept this final attempt at waking up my teenage self to try to find the alive adult self that there was in him for what it is. He was so well tucked up that he made every call to wake up and grow into being a grown man a means of further retreat. He had mentors who taught him to retreat when courage and directness were what was called for. I would challenge anyone to call out bad teaching and bad living for being bad when it declares itself loud enough to drowned out all other calls that it is the only choice going.

Thank you for getting this far.

Chapter One - from invisible boy to alien in the attic without forethought or preparation.

Chapter Two - normality does not work for me and there is nobody to report this to.

Chapter Three - how well small amounts of money made me feel, youth mis-training.

Chapter Four - how I made a bad prop out of myself to support my mother.

Chapter Five - ugly forbidding sex, unmemorable Christmases and dad getting drunk.

Chapter Six - where other people made sure that I did not know what I was doing/where I was going.

Chapter Seven - work as engagement, the joy of the NME, Heavy Metal, attempted Christianity.

Chapter Eight - work as avoidance, male reluctance, a failed affair.

Chapter Nine - Sexual secrecy and useless parental solutions.

Chapter Ten - How taboo consistently hid what people really did and wanted. 

Chapter 11 - The life affirming qualities of education and friendship through music.

Chapter 12 - Joining CND and learning how to be it's secretary, Glastonbury 1981 the rite of passage I did not expect

Chapter 13 - Temporary jobs vs infinite and unrealistic expectations

Chapter 14 - A hobbling history of secretiveness and homosexuality with the promise of escape

Chapter 15 - The difficulties of leaving the parental house on my own terms, more life and friendship through music.

Chapter 16 - Partially leaving the parental house, more life through politics and music, 'It's my party' three times over, the return of the closet life, life in the job centre.

Chapter 17 - Notes on depression and hoarding, initial explorations of spirituality and silence, resting from CND, speculations about the secrecy of social services, discovering George Orwell-an author who would influence me all my life.    

Chapter 18 - Which church to choose and why?, Trying to slot my learning and reading around what I believed, the local political scene and faith matters, leaving The Pentecostal Church whilst remaining 'friends' with the pastor, being hurt seem easier than receiving forgiveness.

Chapter 19 - A recap of the life with my parents that i was trying to leave behind, miserable first lodgings, entertaining strangers, education and bad training experiences, reflections on homosexuality in popular music and in myself, being seen selectively.  

Chapter 20 -  Being trapped by the lack of choice open to me, life outside of family, Glastonbury two years running, Mother finds me a flat and the trap/test of friends vs family whilst depressed/closeted begins, 

Chapter 21 - how a rich social life is possible in spite of the the lack of means.

Chapter 22 - three parties, the end of the experiment in youthful communal living, learning about depression the hard way, the hardest way back to better living.

Chapter 23 - the life reset that I would not have to change again after I started it. 

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