“I hope you’re taking two tents” insisted my mum as I was about to leave on a camping trip to the dunes with my girlfriend. We drove away laughing and I left my poor mum, with her victorian values, horrified at the thought her son was rebelling against convention.
I was born at home, a regular British bloke, in Croydon, just south of London, England. With parents who celebrated 53 years of marriage and three younger sisters following that same tradition. I learned to dance to a very different drum. My mum desperately wanted me to be ‘normal’ but, that was not to be my fate. Fortunately I was destined to live the life of a renegade.
When or how I became the family black sheep is hard to determine. I was basically a good kid, went to Sunday School, sang in the Church choir, joined cub scouts and played sports. In 1966 my mum came to Windsor Castle to see her most royal majesty Elizabeth II present me with my Queen Scout award. I loved scouts, the camping and parades but eventually got sick of all the rules and regulations, pomp and ceremony and blind adherence to tradition.
At the Bexhill-on-Sea Grammar School in East Sussex I enjoyed sports and studied the great British constitution and economics and maybe it was there that I first discovered how laws are applied unjustly and unfairly. My acts of rebellion started small but got me in plenty of trouble. Corporal punishment was still the norm. I was regularly excluded from classes, slippered and caned, had objects thrown at me and was even forced to crawl under a classroom floor through broken milk bottle glass – all punishments instigated by teachers! My disgust and disdain for authority became a product of my education plus some other abuses.
My innocence got further dissipated by sexual predators like my scoutmaster, my ‘Young Covenanters’ priest and then the gay guy in Paris. He found me and my hitchhiking schoolfriend trying to sleep under a bridge along the Seine. The offer of a warm shower with a soft bed was hard to refuse but his insistence that homosexuality was now legal in the UK and we should all be doing it was not ok with us. It was 1968, revolution was in the air, and the times they were achangin’.
I was a child of the ’60’s liberally partaking of the free sex, drugs and rock’n roll. Pubs, clubs and concerts were overflowing with the great bands of that era. My ears and mind where tuned to the music and lyrics of the Beatles, Dylan, Pink Floyd, the Stones, the Who and more. A whole new generation was rapidly evolving and I was an eager participant. The world was an oyster for teenagers at that time and so I became one renegade amongst many renegades.
It was in 1970 after my first love teenage fiancé ditched me that my last connection with convention ended. Brokenhearted, I traveled to Israel to work on a kibbutz supposedly to pick grapefruit. Inadvertently, I found myself on the Lebanese border, attacked by El Fatah freedom fighters and educated in middle eastern politics, biblical history and the sexual revolution. New perceptions of peace and love and freedom changed my life in many ways, forever.
Back in the University of London hustle I was labelled ‘the country bumpkin’ coming from a working class family in rural Sussex. To get to my city college in the the heart of the international banking beast I passed the Royal Stock Exchange and the Bank of England but was more impressed by the ancient aromatic coffee roasting shops. London was becoming a world centre for music, fashion and questioning authority. Quite surprisingly, I passed my B.A. protesting Vietnam and 20th century colonialism while dancing and drinking my way though debauched parties and becoming totally disillusioned with capitalism.
Returning to communal kibbutz living in 1973, the Yom Kippur war opened my young eyes to the evils of government propaganda. Seeking tranquility and authenticity in the world of children I tried teaching. It became my assignment for this life. After a short spell at Tapion School in St Lucia I became a juggler and discovered that teaching circus skill in my own school on my own terms was the right renegade path for me.
I escaped from the madness of my youth yet found more craziness in all the places I travelled. I searched for nirvana but settled for a rugged rural district on the remote pacific island of Hawaii, downslope from the worlds most active volcano. I bought a piece of raw jungle and founded an ecovillage with a bunch of anarchistic busking jugglers. My HICCUP circus grew into a thriving community hub called S.P.A.C.E.
To protect grassroots progress in sustainable community development I founded a group to fight for law changes and common sense in government. We had minor successes but failed to have any major impact. I yearned to live communally but discovered how hard it can be.
While raising my daughter alone I married a beautiful woman with six kids. Soon after my 36 years living in Hawaii ended when I was suddenly deportation back to the UK, much to the delight of my aging mum and sisters. My present life may appear normal– which keeps my mum happy – but as my stories unfold, in future blogs, readers may observe the renegade remains alive in me.
On my journey I crossed paths with a multitude of very interesting, eccentric, infamous and egotistical people. As I travelled with some and shared adventures with others I discovered one universal truth on this life – “there’s nout so queer as folk”
My blog honours a host of renegade people, their lives and our experiences together.