I knew my place for sure and it wasn't at the top because my paternal grandmother was from Bedworh and said 'ain't' and that was good enough for me. She was of small stature but had the integrity and capacity for hard work of a hundred. My grandmother from the Welsh side was as stubborn as a mule, also of short stature, but would give her last penny to help others. These are two people for whom I had the utmost respect. They had no pretentions at all and I saw that as the way to be. My immediate family didn't. Everything was secret squirrel stuff, and 'don't do that, say that, Michael'.
I wanted to be a builder like my Scottish grandfather, but was told that I had to aim for something better. What can be better than crafting something from the ground up. My paternal grandfather died not long after my fourth birthday. He and I used hang out a lot together, but I didn't know that he was dying. The day came when I waited and waited but he didn't come to see me. I was told that he was living in the clouds, but I soon found out that that was a lie on a flight to Gibraltar. He wasn't in the clouds and neither was anybody else.
People are born with qualities and abilities, and where my father's was a capacity to learn academics, and my sister with her ability to play classical piano, mine was all about social conscience, and it flew in the face of where I was and what I was supposed to be. I met many others like me in private school, hotbeds of silent protest against the establishment.
The movie 'If' put ideas into our heads of revolution. We had it all worked out what to do. Tommy Flynn, and Irish kid from Dublin and a master of locks would get us into the school armoury, and we would use guile and other skills to take over and defend the school against the oppression of our middle class jailers. The class system takes no prisoners, and we eventually realised that the movie was called 'If' because there was never going to be a 'When'. The establishment had been told by Head of School House that the movie was a latter day 'Tom Brown's Schooldays. We sat there, cheering on the revolution while a couple of house masters sat in stunned silence. The establishment, realising that they had made a huge mistake in allowing the movie to be shown , doubled the bloody guard on the school Armoury, and Saturday Night movies were terminated with immediate effect..
The only reality from the movie was the acquisition of noisy motorcycles and black leather jackets. That would annoy the stuffy neighbours next door, wake them up a bit, but enthusiasm and a desire to break out of the mold lead to carelessness and the premature deaths of some of my friends. One by one, the revolution died with them, and those of us who survived were quickly 'reeled' back in. There is no room for freedom of expression or freedom of any kind in the middle classes. We don't have the finesse to mix it at the top, and we are the visible line of oppressors of the working class, the managers, lackeys to the top brass. Like I said before, it is not a good place to be..