[My guest this month is author and fellow Swanwicker David Hough.]
Thanks for dropping in, David. Let’s start at the beginning; what is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?
It was the late nineteen forties and I would have been about four years old. The war was ended but housing was difficult. We lived in a Nissen hut on a disused RAF airfield just outside Bath. I had a toy truck which I took apart and asked my father to rebuild as a working engine. No way, was the essence of his reply, but I didn’t understand. I wasn’t in the least technically minded then and I haven’t been ever since.
What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
My favourite subject was English. We had no television at home and in my spare time I immersed myself in books. Was it any wonder, then, that I loved anything to do with literature when I was at school? My parents thought I wasn’t up to a grammar school education so I went to a technical school in the City of Bath. It was fortuitous that the school (in those days) had an excellent academic record. And we had an excellent English teacher (a Welshman) who was able to capture my imagination in class.
The subject I hated most was mathematics. My parents were wrong, I was an academic at heart and anything beyond the written word bored me. Ironically, I had to work so hard at trying to understand mathematics that I won the school prize for maths after getting outstanding GCE results. Which probably proves nothing at all, except that pure slogging hard work can achieve results.
That’s interesting, David. I suspect most people would have avoided the subject and thereby done badly, not well. Next question: if you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?
Firstly, my laptop because it has all my writing stored in its memory. It also has the most important family photos and videos stored in its memory. Such things, once lost, cannot be replaced for future generations. Secondly, my wallet because it has all the necessary cards and ID that I need to survive in the modern world. Thirdly, the nearest of a number of books I have inherited from previous generations.
David, I have three things to say to that answer: back up; back up; back up! (Having said that, that’s something I tend to let slip on occasion; must back up my files when I’ve finished this post. So, David, how do you relax?
With a book. If I don’t have a book in my hands I have to be doing something.
If you knew you only had 24 hours left, how would you spend them?
I would choose to spend the time with my family. It doesn’t matter where, as long as I could be with them one last time. Of all the things I have in this life, nothing is more important than the family that will carry my genes into future generations. They are all individuals in their own way, all special in their own way, and all important to me.
If you could change one law, what would it be?
I would make all social drug-taking in any public place — or any other place where children are present — illegal. And that includes the use of the drug, nicotine. Apart from protecting children, probably the most important reason, I also see it as a way of setting them an example.
If you were a car, what type would you be — and why?
Photo: Norbert Schnitzler
I would be a rather aged and run-down Ford Sierra. A good family run-around in its day, but now past its sell-by date and needing a lot of attention to keep it vaguely roadworthy. In its heyday it carried my children to and from school and outdoor activities, carried them to and from teenage assignations, took us all on holiday. Now, the paintwork is dull, the springs are worn and the upholstery shows signs of wear and tear. But it still plods along in its own sweet way.
If you could meet one person from history, who would it be — and why?
I would want to meet Charles Darwin in order to ask him how he coped with the ridicule he was subjected to after the publication of his Origin of Species. He was a pioneer in his field, but was treated by many as a charlatan. How did it affect him, how did he come to terms with the criticism he received? Did he ever regret putting his theory in the public domain?
Upload a picture or a photo that best represents you, and tell us why (and it doesn’t have to be a portrait, although it can be).
This is my family; my wife, my offspring, their partners and our one gorgeous grandson (second one due soon). Without these people I wouldn’t be the person I am. Without me, they wouldn’t exist. So I choose this as a representation of me, and what I am. My happiest times are when I can be with my family.
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
Get on with it. Life is not a rehearsal.
Of the books you have written, which is your favourite?
King’s Priory. It’s my favourite because it encapsulates my personal philosophy that we each have a purpose in this life. That purpose varies from person to person and most people never do get to work out what it is. The ones who do stumble upon their life’s purpose are the lucky ones. They have the chance to achieve something special while in their earthly existence.
Thank you David for sharing your thoughts and memories with us. Readers: you can read more about King’s Priory and David’s other books here.
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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