Peter said: “I wrote this book because I wanted to record my experiences, and the thoughts and ideas they inspired, for my grandchildren so they might know something of their grandfather and of an age not so long ago but rather different from theirs.”
Peter not only chronicles his own life experiences, but those of his family through its last generations, showing how each of us absorbs knowledge, ideas and feelings from those with whom we associate, which can shape our lives in a positive or negative way depending on how we choose to handle these influences. The book covers political progress, religion, war, violence and other stimuli that have affected our social evolution, but with a different, personal and probably more realistic perspective to that which one might read about in academic history books.
Included in the book are excerpts from Peter’s mother’s journal of her early life. Of these Peter writes: “My mother was never critical of her parents to me and I find this surprising for I can find little evidence of any effort by them to alleviate the hardships for her. Perhaps she avoided bitterness to soften the reality of a very deprived start in life and to enable her to build an adult life for herself.”
By 1950 Peter’s parents had moved nine times. They both worked, so often cared for Peter in shifts. Although their work was all low paid and temporary and everything was bought second hand, they were building a family life.
Peter took pleasure in the idyllic countryside, picking blackberries, catching sticklebacks and lampreys and developing an empathy with nature and an enthusiasm for fishing. He made a boat from balsa wood, which he fitted it with a tiny electric motor and played and explored all day in a magical world. He enjoyed playing with other children when the opportunity was presented, but he was also happy to amuse myself. As an only child, he had learned to be self-reliant and certainly didn’t envy the squabbles that he witnessed between other brothers and sisters.
Educated at small country schools and an 11+ failure (Peter can’t recall answering any of the questions), he subsequently embarked on a 5-year apprenticeship, eventually obtaining an engineering degree as a part-time student. He went on to work as design engineer, project manager and group manager of a world class team, designing and building process plants for the production of hydrogen and other industrial gases and travelling extensively.
There are some hilarious accounts in the book involving Peter’s courtship with his wife Rosie, such as his first meeting with her parents: After the polite introductions, Rosie noticed something in my trouser pocket. “What have you got; is it something for me?”“No, it’s nothing,” I replied and, in that moment, realised how pleased I was to see her. “Yes, you have got something in your pocket; I can see it.” Her mother took an interest; perhaps it was a present for her? And then, realising it was not, she left the room abruptly, muttering about controlling oneself. I had not impressed on my first attempt.
Peter’s inspiring story shows how we all take the values we are taught into adulthood, but that it is also possible to reassess our views and beliefs based on our own experiences and the situations we encounter. It also demonstrates how we do not have to come from a privileged background in order to succeed in life.
He concludes by saying, “When we think or when we act we add something, good or bad, to the fabric of existence and when we feel optimistic and right with the world, we are drawing on the good stuff put there by all the people in all the generations since the very beginning. I am blessed with a soul mate of sweet nature and, perhaps, more tuned than many to this. It warms me and makes me better, stronger, richer. It even feels that I have become more able to add some threads.”
Orange Juice and Cod Liver Oil is available on Amazon and from other internet book sellers and leading high street bookstores.
Link to Amazon Store page >> Orange Juice and Cod Liver Oil: A Baby Boomer Memoir