My cameras

Random photo of me in Andalusia nearly twenty years ago

Due to my health issues, I have not been able to get out and take any photographs for about three years. As I am feeling a bit better, I thought I should have an audit of where I had got back then, and I have a look at my cameras; the ones which were in use when I was taken ill.

I have two older 35mm SLRs, one with colour film already in it, and the other with black and white film, Yashica and Fujica respectively). I also have a compact Olympus which is mechanically sound, in which I have loaded another colour film. I paid £2.50 for it in a charity shop, which I know because I still have their price ticket.

I have a 120-format camera also with film in it, a digital Fujica bridge camera and a Canon compact digital camera.

I am not sure whether I will have the opportunity to put these cameras to use but hope so. It will be interesting to see what pictures are already on film. Of course, the films may have deteriorated but that will add to the fun.

I have other cameras including two other 35mm SLRs, which I have acquired for little money or been given. I do not have a modern digital SLR and at the moment do not “need” one. The bridge camera can suffice for the digital world and the Canon compact is quite decent too.

Coma dreams and delusions

I have just read on the BBC website an account of an unfortunate journalist who has had and still has long Covid. It is a dreadful illness at its worst, and I feel for him. One thing which caught my attention is what he describes as having “coma nightmares” when in an induced coma.

Although I am aware of dreaming most nights, I rarely remember much detail the following morning. However, when I was in hospital, though not with Covid, but in an induced coma, I had vivid dreams which I was convinced were real life.

I had a lot going on. I was involved in brokering and delivering fish quotas to the EU, and this involved several journeys to France and Belgium. We stayed in an apartment also, though I seem to remember that was in the Netherlands. Of course, I know very little about the fishing industry, but I was convinced I did.

Also, I was involved with two farms, one in Scotland and another in Northern Ireland. I had responsibility for making sure the cattle were well fed in Scotland and for mixing feed that they had when not out to pasture. At the farm we had a dog and some puppies, Border Collies I think, and one of our family took a puppy to the Northern Ireland farm.

As part of this story, we seemed to have a house in North Kent and another in Devon, and the Devon property was especially nice.

Separately I thought we had sold our house in Hockley, and had another locally, but we had also built a bakery in Rayleigh. Maybe that was where the new house was too.

There were visits to my paternal grandparents’ house in Billericay. My grandma was there, but not grandad, who passed on in 1964. I also saw a lot of my lovely Auntie, my Mum’s sister, and her husband and the rabbits that Auntie bred.

I did a lot of driving and had to go (I think) to Northampton several times. On one occasion I was pulled over by the police for speeding (this has never happened to me). I also visited some North London opticians several times to have new contact lenses (that at least was based on experience), but for some reason had to take a dog to the local vets there rather than nearer home.

Several times I was in hospital, not the real one, and was thirsty but could not reach the drinking bottle. I had some awareness of lying on my front, which was probably true as I was proned to help my breathing while I was on the ventilator.

These dreams or delusions, one might say, kept recurring and all seemed real. When I was finally conscious in hospital it took me a week or so to work out what was real and what was part of my unconscious imagination.

Bill Wilson’s Covid story.

My hospital experience

Riverside shelduck which I hope to see soon again

On 6th November 2020 I woke up feeling generally very unwell and with a protruding lump in my abdomen. I telephoned my GP surgery and subsequently spoke to a doctor. She arranged for me to attend Southend Hospital that afternoon.

I duly went to the hospital. The consultant there said they would have to operate on what was a strangulated hernia that night. I telephoned Gloria, my wife to tell her as due to Covid she had not been able to come into the hospital.

I remember nothing after that, not even being prepared for surgery. The operation itself was apparently a success as Gloria was informed at 5 o’clock the following morning, but subsequently I had a brain bleed, was in ICU for five days and was in an induced coma for a while. I remember nothing at all of November or of the first couple of weeks of December, and most of the rest of December is pretty hazy. I do remember having roast turkey in hospital on Christmas Day.

I think I was in Southend Hospital for about four weeks before being transferred to Broomfield Chelmsford.

Having been “critical” to start with, I was probably fortunate to survive, and it must have been dreadfully worrying for Gloria when I was so ill.

I was moved from Broomfield to Braintree Community Hospital on 27th December, and discharged from there on 15th January. I have been sent to a care home.

In Broomfield and Braintree I saw physiotherapists as having been laid up for so long I was virtually paralysed as my muscles had forgotten how to work. I can still barely stand and cannot walk, but I have been discharged by the hospital to a facility which has no physio support. After getting me over the main illness the NHS has left me high and dry.

I am trying to either get moved from what is an excellent care home to a more suitable facility, or to arrange for a physiotherapist to come in to visit and supply equipment. The care home is fine for the very elderly residents, but I was told by the physios in the hospital that I have every chance of getting back to normal, the state of health I had before November. Of course those physios assumed I would get ongoing therapy, which the hospitals have neglected to arrange now I am out.

I have only seen Gloria in the flesh once since I as taken ill, and that was presumably on compassionate grounds when my situation was still serious. I do not really remember much about her visit. It has been all very difficult for Gloria. She has been brilliant at supporting me and running the household, to which I so wish to return when I have some mobility. Fortunately we can have video chats several times a day so thank goodness for technology.

PS: I have arranged private physiotherapy to start on Monday 1st February, and also hope to hear from the community NHS physiotherapists. I should not have had to do this all myself, but at least I should make some progress.

Gloria came to see me yesterday and we conversed not at all privately through a perspex screen. Online video gives a better level of communication but it was great to see Gloria even if the meeting was unsatisfactory.

My Mother, Pamela Stow

Our Mum

Although brought up and having lived her first sixty years in Billericay, our Mum was born in 1925 in a nursing home in Sydenham in South East London, for which reason she supported Kent at cricket. This allegiance was reinforced by childhood family holidays spent at the Folkestone Cricket Festival where she was able to watch Kent and England cricketers at the top of their game and fooling around end-of-season.

I think Mum had quite a happy childhood with a Mum and a Dad who both liked animals, so there were always plenty of pets.

Like her sisters, Mum attended the Ursuline Convent School in Brentwood after starting out at the local one in Billericay. She was quite a talented violinist at school, passed her Grade 8 and might have gone further with this had it not been for the war.

Mum started commuting to the City during the War, a time when bombs were falling and while it must have been daunting, like everyone else she kept calm and carried on. She worked for the Standard Bank of South Africa, where she met our Dad when he was demobbed and returned to the bank in 1946.

Mum and Dad married in 1950 and she stopped work at that point and was soon expecting me. By November 1953 Marion was born and in 1956 we moved from our rented bungalow to a house in Billericay. We had a decent adjacent plot to, over the years, accommodate chickens, ducks and an allotment, and at various times we had a guinea pig, mice, goldfish, budgies and our first dogs.

Mum started work again on a part-time basis in about 1960, working for the Westminster Bank, initially in Brentwood after learning to drive, and then in Billericay. Mum then worked locally for an insurance company, moved up to the City, and worked for a merchant bank being a bookkeeper for investment trusts. She only stopped her second City career when her own mother became unwell and needed our Mum to keep an eye on her.

What about the dogs in general, and Shelties in particular? In 1962 on a day when Mum must have been off her part-time job, Marion and I were walking home from school for lunch when we came upon a Sheltie puppy running loose on the main road.  With some encouragement she followed us home. Mum reported the finding to the police, but no one claimed her and after signing a police form we could keep her. We had been dog-less for a while at that point. As it happened, the breeder was local, had let the puppy go to a pet home, but as she had been lost, never transferred the puppy to the purchaser. After being referred by a friend she did identify Penny as the “lost” puppy and transferred ownership to Mum.

We had Penny for sixteen years and after we lost her in 1978 Mum and Marion acquired a Sheltie bitch to show, and that is how Stanydale Shelties started.

In 1985 around three years after Dad’s retirement, Mum and Dad moved to Nayland from Billericay, and to a more rural aspect with more room for the dogs, of which there have been quite a lot at various times including a number of Lhasa Apsos. Mum enjoyed showing the dogs with Marion and as a great animal lover loved watching the rabbits, deer, pheasants, partridges and many other birds in the garden almost up to the end. She also became a great horseracing enthusiast and was very knowledgeable about both flat and National Hunt racing.

Our Mum was a kind, considerate and generous soul. She had a long life, but just the same it is hard to be without her, when so often we still feel the need to tell her something.

Pamela Aileen Stow was born on 25th September 1925 and passed away on 27th September 2017.

My father, Brian Stow

Young Dad

Dad was born on 31st March 1922 in Edgware, Middlesex.

His parents moved to Totteridge in North London and Dad went to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Barnet. He was very proud of his school, followed it throughout his life and was always a member of the Old Elizabethans. He left school at 17 to start work though today he would have been university material. He joined the Standard Bank of South Africa and was there until he was called up for war service.

Dad did not talk much about the war. He was in Royal Signals. He was shipped around and took part in the Allied invasion of Italy in July 1943, coming off a landing craft in Sicily carrying his radio. It is hard for us to imagine being thrust into such a situation under fire.

Dad’s duties included taking over telephone exchanges in Italy and monitoring. He had a natural ability for languages and picked up Italian from scratch. In later years, he took his “O level” after going to evening classes and he spoke Italian well, as Gloria and I observed when we went with the parents on holiday to Italy. Dad was also apparently able to pass for a native of Vienna, such was his German accent from his time after his transfer to Austria prior to de-mob.

When Dad returned to the bank in 1946, he met Mum, who had been working at the Bank for several years, being one of the young women who filled the gaps left by the men on war service. Mum and Dad were married in 1950 and were married for the best part of 67 years.

If I am honest, I should say that we children, Marion and I, did not see all that much of Dad during our childhood. He always seemed to be at work, which of course was for our benefit.  In those days he often worked on Saturday mornings, and went to the Arsenal on a Saturday afternoon. He was a season ticket holder at Highbury, as was his father until his death in 1964. Dad first went to Arsenal as a boy during the Herbert Chapman era. We spent time with Dad on Sundays because he took us to church at Stock, where we were in the choir.

In recent years Dad followed Arsenal on-line and also became quite good at on-line shopping.

Dad was quite sporty. For a time, he played for a local cricket club, opening the batting. One great memory was his taking a one-handed catch over his head while fielding on the boundary. I was most impressed.

Dad’s career at the bank saw him rise through the ranks to be senior in the Trustee Department. Then he became a Head Office inspector for the Standard Chartered Bank, so he then had the opportunity to travel the world from Djakarta to San Francisco and many places and offices in between.

Dad retired in 1982 and Mum and Dad moved from Billericay to Nayland in 1985. Dad joined the congregation here, where he remained until Sunday morning outings became too difficult. I know Mum and Dad were very happy with their new life in Nayland with the more rural environment and more room for all the dogs.

In the last year or so, I always tried to phone at 7pm every evening. Dad usually answered with a chuckle as he would have been waiting for the call. I do miss that.

Retirement meant that Dad had more time for everyone and showed more his kind and generous spirit. He was a thoroughly decent man and we will all miss him very much.

Brian Frederick Geoffrey Stow was born on 31st March 1922 and passed away on 30th July 2017.

Health update for Movember 2016

Movember day 19
Movember day 19

I had a check-up earlier this month post my encounter with prostate cancer three-and-a-half years ago. I am doing well, and my PSA is 0.026, so hardly there at all. So, I will be reviewed again in a year’s time.

I count myself lucky with the early diagnosis and prompt treatment following a referral by my diligent GP.

This year I am once again growing a moustache for Movember and of course hope for some sponsorship to help raise awareness about neglected areas of men’s health. Take care out there, guys.


IMG_0873I wrote this piece more than ten years ago when someone was bullied on-line by several people after making an innocent mistake:

To me the word “compassion” implies an empathetic understanding of the suffering of another and thus is a step beyond pity, which nevertheless is a sympathetic appreciation of another’s plight.

It is perhaps not too difficult to understand the anguish of those with whom we are not acquainted. If we see news footage of a starving child or hear about victims of the Asian tsunami of course we feel emotion. However, unless there is any direct involvement (where for instance someone we know was killed or bereaved) we might perhaps send a charitable donation but we are otherwise unable to help in a practical sense and do not become greatly engaged emotionally.

Sometimes, though, it seems to us that someone we know has been seriously wronged, or we have a deep sense of injustice or sympathy for that person’s anguish. If that person who is our friend or colleague has been deeply hurt or is vulnerable, we are anxious to rush to that person’s side, to help fight the battle. That is a very noble and honourable thing to do and it will be helpful to the person wronged to know that he or she has the support of others through a difficult time.

Nevertheless, often in human relationships there are two sides to every story. That does not mean that the person wronged is in any way to blame, but perhaps the behaviour of the supposed perpetrator has to be seen in the context of his or her own situation and probably that person’s emotional state. That person should not be demonised and it may be that that person requires some understanding too, indeed some compassion; an empathetic understanding as to why the person acted in the way that he or she did. Perhaps the wrongful act was an accident or a simple indiscretion under stress (if it was a criminal act then that is for another discussion another time), and in some circumstances it might have been a cry for help.

These situations occur in online relationships too, and of course it is very likely that they will affect people’s daily lives. Compassion for the “wrongdoer” does not require us to agree with someone’s actions but if we make an effort to understand the circumstances it may assuage our anger.

My Oxford Pocket Dictionary defines compassion as “pity inclining one to spare or help”. Online or offline, it is always important not to rush to judgement, but to help and support the parties involved and show compassion to all those who need it.

Blue remembered hills

DSC02433I went to the funeral of a client. She was a lady who had lived a very long life. She had overcome adversity having been orphaned at a very young age and fostered out, as well as being separated from her siblings. She became a professional in health care in her thirties and ran her own practice. It sounded to me as though her life was anything but simple, and she achieved what she did though determination and hard work.

I happened to have a chat with the minister who took the funeral service. We agreed that there were less distractions for children growing up than there are now with all the technology, social media and, perhaps consequently, shorter attention spans. However, it seems to me that what my late client achieved in her younger days was actually much harder than it would be now. For one thing she was a woman, no one had the “right” to higher education when she was eighteen just before the Second World War, and a decade after the war when I was very small those opportunities were still not available.

When we were growing up as kids, we were not short of food. In many ways we were quite insulated from adversity, so I cannot say we suffered like the Four Yorkshireman. Our diets were more restricted because there was not the variety of food, there were few supermarkets, and those that there were carried nothing exotic. In the Sixties, even if we had money, there were few package holidays and because the Labour government had devalued the Pound, they were expensive. The Government had also restricted the amount of Sterling people could convert into foreign currency to go on holiday anyway. The country was regularly brought to a halt by striking workers in the public sector because of the economic problems and pressure on wages. Yes, your heart would not bleed because people were deprived of holidays in Spain, but the point is that many things we take for granted now were simply not available.

We live now in the Age of the Internet. Anything we might be able to buy, we can find. We can shop for almost any variety of foreign food we like, thanks to our outward looking trade connections and of course the immigrant population who have also created the demand. Life for most people is incomparably better than it was for those living in the Fifties and Sixties. Of course there are those who have missed out, and they can be resentful, quite understandably. Most of us, even the poor, have more than we might have had half a century or so ago.

Somehow, many have forgotten this; even those who were alive then. They forget how their parents struggled. They forget how difficult travel was, unless as a special treat on the train, or daily on the school bus. They forget the boiled potatoes and cabbage, the awful school meals, the school masters who beat them for some misdemeanour.

Where has this discontent got us? It has got us to a point where many voters want to wind back the clock to a time when their country was more isolated, when there were fewer immigrants, and when life seemed easier. It was not easy. If we were alive then, we were children and even poorer parents mostly shielded their kids from the worst.

People vote for nostalgia, even when what they hark back to is not real. They vote for Brexit, and in America they might vote for Donald Trump, when as Harold Macmillan once said of Britain “we never had it so good”, which relative to earlier times was true.

Those who vote for the past rather than the future threaten our way of life, and theirs. They believe the storytellers of the past and their false memories. Let us try gently to bring them back to the present.

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again

A E Housman, from A Shropshire Lad (1896)

My journey through the Brexit referendum

I was not going to write down my views post the referendum, but I have felt deeply affected by the outcome and just need to get it out of my system. I would normally keep my voting preferences private.

As a young chap I voted in the 1975 referendum to remain in the European Communities. The issue from the then Labour Government’s point of view was mainly that the Common Agricultural Policy kept food prices too high, though they had ideological issues too. The Government thought its renegotiation was largely successful. I thought that access to a free market close by at a difficult time for trade in Britain was what the country needed.

By the Eighties our membership contributions seemed to be getting a bit pricey. I became more Eurosceptic, though I am not sure the term had been invented then. In 1984 Margaret thatcher negotiated a rebate, which is still in force today. There are a lot of figures bandied about as to what the UK contribution is today, but it is probably not much more than around £200M a week (or at least it was pre-June 2016), about one-tenth of the budget for the NHS. Actually, I still think Maggie’s deal was pretty good and has stood up well in over thirty years.

This is not supposed to be a history of the UK in the EU. There was a lot of anguish in the Conservative Party over John Major’s “bastards” who opposed the UK signing up to the Maastricht Treaty which did sow the seeds for future monetary and probably political union. I became most Eurosceptic then. Teresa Gorman was one to whom Major was referring and one day she was signing copies of her book The Bastards when I went into W H Smith in Liverpool Street station to buy a magazine. She spotted me, possibly feeling lonely, and offered me one of her books. I told her I had bought a copy the week before and produced it from my briefcase. She signed it for me. She would probably not have appreciated a comparison to Edward Heath, of whom it was said that un-autographed books were rarer than the ones he had signed, so desperate was he to get his books out there.

I digress. Fast forward to 2016. In February David Cameron negotiated a “deal” with the other EU member states. He then called the referendum. I thought the deal meant very little and was purely cosmetic. The UK would avoid Euro bailouts and would not be drawn into closer political union with other countries which aspired to this.

The deal on immigration and benefits was meaningless as a deterrent to prospective EU immigrants. I tried to explain to a number of people before the referendum that immigration was likely to be largely unaffected by the UK leaving the EU, assuming there would be stability in the UK economy. People would still want to come, EU citizens in work already contribute their skills and also a lot of tax to the Exchequer. We need them and will still need them. As regards non-EU immigration, the issue and the problem is unchanged. The sub-Saharan conflicts have been going on for years and the Syrian disaster was unforeseen. In or out of the EU we have to try to cope, and have compassion.

As a Eurosceptic, I examined every argument carefully. The campaigns, Leave and Remain, made some outrageous claims; for example, Leave about the cost of membership. The Remain side operated Project Fear, concentrating on negatives rather than the positive reasons for staying in the EU, which are actually the single market and the freedom of movement, even if the latter might have been marginally hampered by the “deal”. In my view, David Cameron’s threat to state pensioners present and future was a grave error as was George Osborne’s “Emergency Budget” warning. People do not like to be threatened or ordered about and will tend to do the opposite.

Remain could well have done without wheeling out Gordon Brown, an irascible type held by many responsible, at least in part for the 2008 crash damage, because he borrowed too much. Alan Johnson, his former Labour colleague, was a much better performer.

We could have done without the interventions of Jean-Claude Juncker, who is like Gordon Brown on the sauce.

Nevertheless, with all this Project Fear noise and claims that economic life outside the EU would be great, there was precious little additional information. I supposed that the Leave campaigners would have sounded out various countries with whom they wanted trade deals. I thought there must be a plan, but we never heard it.

I had to vote on what I knew. Our economic stability was based on relative certainty with regard to our European partnerships, as well as taking the medicine some EU countries had refused to take, notably France. It was based on confidence that we knew the road ahead.

I made my decision quite late.

I decided that we were better off with the devils we knew that those we had not even met yet, so I voted with the status quo. I did not have that positive feeling, because the EU has so many faults. It is unwieldy, and although in a way democratic, it is slow to act when some states go it alone on factors such as immigration. That means strong leaders like Angela Merkel (whom I sort of admire) can go off on their own and present policies as a fait accompli before anyone else has reacted.

So where are we now?

  • The pound has gone south
  • The cost of petrol and diesel, bought in dollars, will go up.
  • The price of food will go up because of the fuel costs and tariffs.
  • People’s incomes will be squeezed.
  • Less confidence means fewer jobs
  • Fewer foreign businesses will set up in UK
  • There will be fewer start-ups except among those forced because they have lost their jobs
  • There will be more austerity medicine because of the loss of tax revenue and the increase in the UK’s deficit, the difference between what the Government receives in and what it needs to spend.
  • My pension fund value has gone south and at my age it matters.
  • There was no plan and I have shed tears – really.

Our economic prospects have been set back years and unlike with a General Election we cannot vote to make another change in five years’ time. No one knows what the UK will be like in five years’ time, and whether it will still be united or down to three countries. We fell off the wall.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Living with my ghosts

Jersey10I might have written this piece a long time ago but there is a kind of shame in this sort of history even though everyone will say there is nothing about which to be ashamed.

So here we go. I was bullied as a child and it has affected my whole life. It left an indelible stain of memories which affects me even today, and which has haunted me throughout my adult life and, of course, my career.

The bullying started when I was about six. Two girls who were a year or so older used to pick on me in the school cloakroom. Their names were Amanda (Mandy) and Lesley. They were both bigger than me. I remember their banging my head against the wall. I was terrified.

Later, when I was about nine, a boy named David used to pick on me. He was about my age but much bigger. I remember he smelled of stale urine. I do not know why I was singled out. Maybe my earlier experience had resulted in my wearing a “victim” sign around my neck. Perhaps it was because I was a clever child, mostly coming at or near the top of the class depending on my performance relative to my arch-rival, Catherine. She was a bright girl.

When I was eleven, in the last year of my primary education, I had won a free place in a very popular independent school for boys with a very good academic record. My teacher told me that going there would be like being “thrown to the wolves”. She should have told my parents. Maybe she did, but I don’t suppose they would remember.

When I went to the big school, just coming up to twelve, I was put in what amounted to a reception class for the incomers, as the school already knew about the intake from its own preparatory school. I quite enjoyed the first few weeks there. It was all new, and the school work was stimulating. We started to learn Latin.

Then one day at the end of the lunch hour, we had just been allowed back in the classroom when a fight broke out. Someone threw a chair, not intended for me, but it hit me full in the face. I was collateral damage. My eyes watered. I was really hurt. I was perceived as being a “cry baby” and from that time I was picked on.

I was never accosted on a one-to-one basis. There was one particular instigator who stands out, but he always had his cronies to deal with me if I put up too much of a fight. I was verbally abused and physically attacked in classrooms, corridors, and in the toilets. In the toilets it was pretty certain no teacher would be there to break up a beating.

After the first term I was promoted to the top stream for incomers. However, I was still haunted by my main persecutor. One day a mate of his hit me in the face with a plank of wood outside one of the school buildings. It broke my nose and I had two “shiners”.

Throughout my school career the beatings went on. I was even attacked on a coach when we were on an outing somewhere, and that with a teacher on board. I remember going home humiliated with my head and hair plastered in chewing gum which had been spat all over me. My Mum helped me wash it out. She never asked me how it happened and did not remember the incident years later. I guess I was fourteen or fifteen at the time. The memory of the shame I felt then makes me shiver even now.

As I got older, the physical abuse slackened off, and there was much more psychological abuse. When I was fifteen, sixteen and seventeen, my school books got stolen frequently as my locker was so often broken into. I had to ask the teachers for new books, and they blamed me for losing the old ones. School then was different from school now. Someone might ask questions now, but back then you were locked into school mode until you were eighteen-ish in the environment I was in.

Of course I was still a bright lad, but my marks and grades suffered, partly of course because I was often missing vital books, but also because I had lived my whole life from the age of twelve in constant fear.

My parents knew I did not like school. That would have been the only explanation for my frequently bringing up my breakfast before going. However, they did not ask me, and of course I did not tell them what happened to me at school, about the constant bullying and my continual terror. I was ashamed of being a victim, of being seen as weak, of being a failure.

Ultimately in academic terms I was a relative failure at school. When I left at seventeen I was so relieved to be away from full-time education that I declined to re-sit my exams at a local college because naively I thought the bullying would all start over again. So I got a job and went out to work, and missed the higher education I should have had.

I did enjoy the first few years working in the City. I was not bullied, but at the same time I just kept my head down. I thought a low profile would keep me safe. In the end it did not. After about ten years I had an alcoholic boss who was Senior Partner at a firm of accountants I worked for. I was not the only target of his abuse, but metaphorically I rolled up in a ball like a hedgehog to try to pretend it was not happening.

A couple of years on, realising that he had drunk himself almost to death, this man became much more benign, even nice, but he died of his habit. I felt sorry for him, but he had re-imposed the terror in me.

At the same firm a few years later another partner persistently picked on me for no obvious reason, accusing me of mistakes I had not made (because he had made them), and bawling me out in front of the whole office.

Why did I endure this? Because I got into a way of believing that I must be inferior to others, not quite good enough. I thought I could not be as able as my colleagues. I had accepted that my role was to get by, not to lead, but to do as I was told because that was all I was good enough for.

Still, maybe everyone, even someone bullied as I was, has a point where it is time to fight back. One day after I had been bawled out again I came home very angry, and that anger manifested itself in a positive way. Why it had taken so long I do not know. I resolved not to put up with this treatment anymore.

I had by this time become a junior manager or supervisor simply because of my experience. I looked for a proper manager’s job which I got with a small firm also in the City. I loved it, and though I say it myself, I was a good manager. Even so it took more years and a move to another very challenging job for me to realise that actually I was really rather good at a technical level too.

You will have gathered that I still bear the scars. Has this bullying affected my life in other ways? Well, of course. Being convinced for so many years of my inferiority, this affected my ability to begin relationships with the opposite sex. “Who would want me?”, I thought. I suppose my shyness might have attracted the bullies from the age of six onwards, but it was I am sure made much worse by the reign of terror I experienced. An eating disorder did not help in my early twenties. Later I had treatment for depression.

I am happy now, and although it took me thirty years after leaving school to find my lovely wife, I should not wish to be able to change my past. Yet throughout my education, my work and my love life there have been so many opportunities wasted.

I know I am not alone in these sorts of experiences. I know that there are those who have had far, far worse. There are policies in schools against bullying, and there are anti-bullying charities, but it worries me that many people still do not realise the damage that bullying causes, and the way that lives can be ruined.

I have climbed back to a space where I have at least perspective on all that has happened to me. Maybe that is the best I can hope for anyone who has been bullied for a long time.