Personally, life during these early teen years was horrid. My parents were going through an increasing antagonistic relationship. Well the antagonism was all going in one direction, which I and my brothers reacted badly against.
The emotional pain of it was very isolating and I earned the reputation for being a bit of a cry-baby. Not a good start for someone at an English all boys boarding school. Oh how I missed my friends in Zambia, and especially my brothers. It didn’t feel right being at school in England, I didn’t want to be there, I was in an unknown culture and I terribly lonely, I needed more than anything to be in a loving environment, with people I loved. School in England simply did not provide that, despite the very Christian ethos of the place and the couple of students whom I also knew from school in Zambia.
You’d have though that an English secondary education in the 80s would have included evolution to some level. I am sure it must have at some point, but I simply do not recall it coming up in any class at all. I remember we covered the basics of some parts of the body in biology, and then there was the obligatory frog dissection. That’s about all I can remember.
The only evolution discussion I can remember is with a class mate who accepted evolution and I challenged him over where each progressive animal emerged from. With each answer I laughed louder and pronounced evolution as impossible.
With each school holiday I loved returning to Zambia, the sun, my mother and brothers, the occasional safari. Oh how I loved those holiday safari’s, probably the only times I was truly relaxed in the presence of my dad and the new woman. If I close my eyes tight I can still go back to those moments, the warm sun, the still air, the clear blue skies, the silence, oh the silence. Scanning the bush for animals, any animal would do, getting clues from the birds in flight about what we might be able to see. Oh I could go on and on….
Sadly those moments were always too brief and real life was always a shock.
Staying with mum was the exception. I always looked forward to the holiday time spent with mum. There would typically be a few days of wind down but simply being there with her was often enough. There was no need for anything more special. Her always loving and gentle patience was so badly needed during those years.
I was very angry and the situation she was in, an only child, thousands of miles away from her parents, single mum living in a small flat who saw her children for only half of each holiday, the rest of the time they were at boarding school. There were numerous times when I tried to be act as her protector and she had to remind me that I was her son and it was her who protected me, not the other way round. They were hard lessons for a teenager in deep emotional turmoil.