$whoname
Greg's diary
1966
Greg's diary
Photo index
Greg's home page
Network link stats
Greg's other links
Copyright information
Groogle
Work in progress
Work in progress

This page gives supplementary information to my written diary for 1966. This was an important year for me, and the events changed the course of my life. I'll add to this as I go along. All this was written starting nearly 50 years later, in 2015. I've done the best to reproduce the text as I wrote it, including spelling and punctuation mistakes. In many cases I can't work out what I wrote: my handwriting has never been the best. I note where I'm guessing.

People

Here's a list of the more important people I mention in the diary. This is a partial list, and it will go away when I have updated the pages for 1966. The complete list is here.

Places

I spent 1966 mainly in the United Kingdom, with a couple of holidays in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was in my final year of school at Kings College, Taunton. The year panned out roughly like this:

In between these times I spent short periods of time travelling or staying with friends, notably the Halletts in Brading on the Isle of Wight.

Overview

I was 17 at the beginning of the year, and gradually developing the character that I still recognize today.

My attitudes

I'm Australian, but I spent much of my teens in the UK, and most of the rest of them in Malaysia. I got on very well with the Malaysians, and on the whole reasonably well with the British. But there was some cultural issues with the British that got on my nerves (and still do, to a much lesser extent), and they made me reconsider what I wanted to do with my life.

Originally I had planned to study natural sciences at Cambridge University, and Mr. Padfield, my physics master, had arranged for me to get a place at Gonville and Caius College.

Cambridge did not accept A level results alone: they had their own entrance exams, to be done in the following term, so I returned to school in September. But the stress of my A level exams, the lack of support from the school and the groundless accusations of homosexuality turned me against all Britain. I decided against Cambridge entry, much to the annoyance of Mr. Padfield, and had nothing to do in that term. I left about halfway through.

Where to go? Back to Australia? It sounded like a good idea, but there was a war on in Viet Nam, and the National service act, 1951-1965 meant that I could be conscripted. So Australia was out.

Then somebody—I didn't note who—suggested Germany. There were several things in its favour: one side of the family comes from Germany, and we still had family there. Not completely coincidentally, I had learnt German at school and spoke German relatively well. And I wanted to study chemistry, not the more general natural sciences that Cambridge offered.

It took some vacillation, but finally I started university in Hamburg in October 1967. But that's a different story.

Technology

I've always been fascinated by technology. At school I was interested in electronics, though by 1966 this had mainly been supplanted by photography. 1966 was probably my most active year with photography until I rediscovered it in 2007.

Music

I had considerably music education at school—I had an “exhibition”, a lesser scholarship, and had lessons in flute, clarinet, bassoon and piano. This mainly faded after I left school.

Racism?

Some things I wrote might suggest racism. That's more a reflection of the difference between now and then. I have never discriminated against anybody based on his race, religion or sex. But I very much discriminate between people based on these characteristics, and I believe that is correct. Part of interacting with other people is being sensitive to their cultural background. If you invite a Muslim to dinner, you don't offer roast pork. If you invite a Hindu, you don't offer roast beef. Ignore these distinctions and you can upset people. In Malaysia at the time, race was an official characteristic like height, sex or eye colour, and many people were proud of belonging to their race.

I'm reminded of a book from the 1960s I found recently: “Best Jewish Jokes”. Discriminatory? I don't know what people think today, but the book was written by a Jew, S. Levin. One joke that fell particularly flat finished:

(Alas, only Jews can understand this story).

The opposite sex

Kings was a boys-only school, and one big issue I had was contact with the opposite sex. On 17 August 1965 I met my first real girlfriend, Lesley Cannings, with whom I “stayed” until roughly her 16th birthday on 6 April 1966. Things weren't going so well—doubtless due to both our inexperience—and I headed off to Edinburgh to visit another girl I knew, Jenny Paton. That didn't get off the ground, and I headed back to the Isle of Wight to visit my schoolfriend Paul Hallett. There I met his sister Jenny, who was much more open to romance, and for the next 15 months or so she was my “girlfriend”.

My attitude to fidelity was interesting. When I was lonely, Lesley or Jenny were the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. But I appear to have had no compunction in trying things with other girls when I thought I might be able to make it. In retrospect, I'm surprised how little remorse I showed, and how quickly my attitude could change.

The same sex

The diary entries bear out that I am strictly heterosexual. But in June 1966 I was accused of homosexuality, at the time a criminal offence in the United Kingdom. The teachers had a number of reasons to believe I was, mainly based on their empirical experience.

The school had an unwritten rule that boys should fraternize only with other boys of the same year (not even age came into it!). For many reasons, I ignored this rule: firstly, rules should be written down, and secondly many activities (notably photography and music) spanned the whole age range of the school (only about 5 years). This didn't make me any more popular with the teachers, of course.

Then in early June, a real incident of homosexuality arose. I appear not to have written down the details, so these memories are tempered by the passage of time. Our dormitory block was some distance from the main school, in a house called Stoneleigh. There were two dormitories upstairs: a small one (11 beds) for the seniors, and a bigger one (twice the size?) for the juniors. I shared a study room on the other side of the junior dormitory with Hugh Lane and Trevor Jones, and on occasion we had to go through the junior dormitory after lights out to get to our own dormitory.

In early June a boy in the junior dormitory block (I think it was Dave Clark V) went to our housemaster (Peter Harvey, nicknamed Skiv) and told him that Lane had tried to get into bed with him. Skiv had been expecting something like that for a long time, and heard “Lane” as “Lehey”. It didn't help that I had annoyed a prefect a few days earlier by suggesting that we were doing funny things in the darkroom. All had been above board, and I had had permission to have more than 2 people in the darkroom (why two were allowed, and more were not, escapes me), but I still got into trouble for my flippant remarks.

A few days later Skiv called me in and gave me a good talking-to about the subject. The truth came out the following day, when Hugh had to leave the school. So was I off the hook? No. It's clear that Skiv had known of the matter when he spoke to me. Clark told me later what had happened, and that Skiv had asked him to confirm that I had made advances to him. “No, it was Lane, not Lehey”. But although they no longer had anything against me, they didn't apologize or even relent. Given that I had posted large photos of Jenny Hallett all over the place, it makes you wonder what these people think.

From my point of view, I was devastated. The sheer dishonesty of the matter sickened me. I blamed the entire English population (as my father used to say, “Kippers: Two-faced and no guts”) and it was one of the reasons I decided not to go to university in England.

That was 50 years ago, of course. I no longer hate every Englishman or homosexuals. But at the time it was a very painful experience.


Greg's home page Greg's diary Greg's photos Copyright

Valid XHTML 1.0!

$Id: diary-1966.php,v 1.4 2015/09/03 01:50:57 grog Exp $