Another Aristotle, Perhaps ? by David Seagrave
My name is David Seagrave and I was born in Devon in 1941. I moved to Lancing, Sussex in 1947 and Seaford, further up the coast in 1952. I was sent to Steyning Grammar School as a boarder and was so desperately homesick that I wanted to die. Steyning is under an hours journey from Seaford and if you could imagine it, dear readers, if a boy from Bathgate moves to North Berwick and is dumped in a boarding school in Bo-Ness and forbidden to visit his family.
I was taken ill at Steyning and was in bed until March 1953, where at another grammar school I was used by classmates with very ulterior motives to get embroiled in something that I would not be punished for today that included the use of “swear words “ This gave rise to what I call a Mindquake – some event which shatters anybodys conviction of basic goodness. From “sick little David“ in Feb 1953 I became WORSE THAN BAD OR MAD DAVID in May 1953 such was the intensity of the disgrace I was pitched into – merely for using swear words !
Seaford, who se apt motto is Ex Ventis Vires (From the winds, strength) may still be a town likened to a brackish tidal pool inhabited by social fossils, people who parade a false superiority by having RANK and it was quite cut off from the wide ocean of normal people in cosmopolitan Brighton half an hours busride away. Just as its constant gales stunt trees so personalities are deformed within its private world. My father who had come from very humble origins rose to the position of Chairman of the United District Councils of Seaford, Lewes and Newhaven. He had been moulded by a German uncle who had to be ”more Catholic than the Pope“ to be socially accepted in London of the 1930s.(that man was killed by a GERMAN BOMB in 1941 !) So my father learned Good Manners and made an issue of Good Manners until I stopped seeing him.
In 1953 or 1954 I had understood the principles of flight so I designed and built a small model aeroplane with a twisted elastic “motor “ which actually flew and not only that it had SWEPT BACK WINGS like the then ephemerally fastest plane in the sky the Hawker Hunter who se pilot Neville Duke was knighted by the Queen in 1953. My parents should have been proud of me for that achievement which most decisively proved that I had both motivation and the intelligence to emulate such men as Sir Frederick Handley Page the aviation pioneer – if not to become an aircraft designer then be fast-tracked for a crack university ( q .v below )
I later attended Red Hill Remedial Boarding School near Maidstone which moulded my character in quite unexpected ways and it was there that I underwent exponential development of my brain when I taught myself German at age 16 This was by far my most important scholastic achievement because it was SELF MOTIVATED I went abroad for the first time in 1958 I boarded a Cologne tram with my family in tow, a boy and in the utterance of DREI ERWACHSENE UND ZWEI KINDER NACH DEN STADTMITTE,BITTE I alighted a man But my father never forgave me for that act of self-affirmation Any normal assertiveness or interest in such forbidden topics as chemistry was regarded as a sign of insolence
At school I assimilated far more applied maths through modelmaking than in maths classes I also on my own initiative started a School Magazine incorporating a science fiction serial The headmaster administered PSYCHO-ANALYSIS and that led to lifelong strife with my father I lapped up Freuds ideas as readily as I took to model railways and enjoyed psycho-analysis sessions. I told Mr Shaw the headmaster everything I could possibly remember about my life,and all my dreams. Elements of dreams such as aircraft, guns and locomotives all had sexual connotations. Freud was to the mind as Euclid was to geometry – the benchmark of what is correct .
My father’s cack handed authoritarianism has so scarred me that I have an inextirpable delusion of innate flawedness which I can only keep at bay by frantic creative activity or demanding challenges and there lies a cruel paradox since I surpassed my mothers limited intelligence by 1953 and my father s mental powers by the very act of self taught German I cannot LOVE anybody because LOVE means at a fundamental level abject surrender to people as stupid as my mother or bowing to the demands of narrow minded Christian people who forbid life affirming hobbies like model railways ( q.v ) If ever I commit a social gaffe or even THINK I have offended anybody I am simply overwhelmed by irrational guilt to such a degree that the impact of the Mindquake tremor gives rise to the delusion that I am quite unfit to make friends. Now I must explain Sartre’s perhaps most famous catchline of all in HUIS CLOS :
JE SUIS LE MIROIR DES ALOUETTES, MA CHERIE
A skylark s mirror, in French is anyone who makes malicious remarks about anyone in contexts where the victim cannot discover the falsehood. The lesbian Ines says to the society girl Estelle that her hair is untidy. In the Hell where they are pitched – a seedy bed sitter in Paris, – there are no mirrors. The average person has an innate irrational conviction of basic goodness and can afford to ignore the few people who are basically nasty. If for any reason an otherwise normal person is put into a social milieu where they are jumped upon for such ludicrously trivial reasons as having grown a BEARD on a lengthy journey (as was so with ME as a man in my mid thirties!), often enough they will feel bad about themselves. If ones own PARENTS make derogatory marks about school work which has earned one good marks the victim slips into what is called a Laingian knot. The Scottish psychiatrist Laing treated severely traumatized people who when children caused offence whatever they did but the parents insisted that they LOVED the child. So the child cannot accept PRAISE for PRAISE means SURRENDER of his dignity to the parents
The victim might have a first rate brain and be good at sport yet still fail to satisfy the parents who have totally unrealistic presumptions that the child must be a clone of the parent of the appropriate sex. It came to my notice that several Red Hill Old Boys were sent there because their fathers in the Armed Forces expected them to be carbon copies and it is also true that several boys had been brought up in strict Christian homes or in crank sects and very soon in life discovered a marked discordance between their parents beliefs and everyday reality. My short story SAINT JAMES THE LESS is a true account of how I rejected the Christian religion at age NINE and how the boy of nine catches sight of the man I was to become .
My brother Jonathan went on to Oxford University to mix with the kind of people I would not be seen dead with My father was to crow that he had sent TWO sons to universities but neither knew nor cared about MY own academic progress. Jonathan has become the sort of Englishman that foreigners hate, like the politician who used the expression “Bongo-bongo-land“ in his arrogance and cocksureness and SLOVENLINESS. He persists in addressing letters to me at squiggle squiggle squiggle Scotland ENGLAND ! as though Scotland was some island in the Bristol Channel ! My sister and I have a very awkward relationship with him
When I deal with Alan Wright ( q.v below ) I have pages and pages of texts that touch upon spoilt identity and Alan’s attempts to help severely traumatised people rebuild their personalities specifically by developing hidden strengths This is one of the leitmotiven of my epic chronicle The Socrates Of Charford ( q v below )
If that individual so burdened with a delusion that he always offends people,retreats into reclusivism as I STILL DO whenever I commit a gaffe, he finds himself in a situation where there are NO PEOPLE TO SERVE AS MIRRORS in which he can see himself reflected as a normal and basically good person. So his mental state deteriorates. How therefore can people like me discover their fundamental goodness if we are trapped in delusions of inextirpable flawedness ? For all my understanding of the mechanism of delusions I have yet to break out of that mindset where, particularly on Sundays I feel trapped in my home and bad from head to toe .
I am often impelled to move back to England and cut myself off from everybody I have persistent delusions of being so flawed that I cannot bear to be in the company of “respectable people “. It is as bad as a conviction that I have an inextirpable smell. It totally poisoned any faculty for intimate heterosexuality yet at age 71 I am very bitter that due to my father’s attitudes I became so psychically maimed that I cannot engage in that sacred dance of souls improving one another all their lives that I describe in the Holy Synergy between Alan Wright, his wife Sylvia his son Bob his daughter in law Galina and his brother in law Alexei
In 1960 I was required to sit entrance examinations for Civil Service Clerks and I was NINTH out of 1,776 candidates nationwide for the Clerical Class and in the top 100 for the executive Class I was then given a job adding up salaries in the old money I could not keep up and so I got the sack 8 months later. This was to lead to a recurrent deterioration of my mental health after further sackings and constant family strife as my father labelled me so often as INNATELY AND INCORRIGIBLY FLAWED. Looking back with great bitterness I feel that my father simply could not tolerate having a son whom he depended upon when travelling abroad. So far from encouraging me to excel he made me feel that I was presumptuous in my drive to improve myself. However I was studying A level subjects at a London College of Commerce and eventually got a place at Glasgow University where I was totally in my element and this also brought about a great widening of my universe of discourse I particularly enjoyed Philosophy lectures and so this has led to doing something very daring indeed ( q v below ) I was to write a short story about a fictional schoolpal named Mervyn Hoddinott with the title (referring to him) as BETTER BY FAR THAN JESUS CHRIST. Am I therefore inviting a charge of BLASPHEMY for writing it or am I of the calibre of Voltaire Readers please think about the very idea of an amateur philanthropist becoming better by far than Christ.
On 5 Nov 1967 my scooter broke down in the dark at Bodiam in Sussex I pushed it wearily to Robertsbridge on the line from Hastings to London and collapsed in a pub. The barman warned me that the London train was due to leave shortly and I ignored him and too late realised that I was about to be marooned in Robertsbridge but off I went to the station expecting that the last train had left There was a train that took me to London whereupon I was told that there had been a major railway disaster on the Hastings line and I said Not OUR Hastings – surely Hastings in Kansas or Hastings in New Zealand.
The following morning I learned that the train I was too LAZY TO CATCH had rolled on its side at full speed at a place called Hither Green and over 50 died I went to Robertsbridge and fitted a new sparking plug to the scooter and went to visit my parents who had been told that I had died in the crash Whereupon my father declared that GOD had prevented the scooter from starting because HE LOVES ME AND HE WANTED TO SAVE ME and he was WARNING ME THAT HE IS IN CHARGE so I was to Attend Church Regularly Go to the Toilet Regularly Go to Bed at Nine sharp and stop meeting the Young Socialists ! I rode away and then conceived of the beginning of my epic literary work “The Socrates Of Charford “
Fictional schoolpal Alan Moelwyn Wright breaks down at Bodiam and with his pregnant girlfriend Sylvia Kelly trudge to Roberstbridge and see the doomed train pull away later Sylvia declares in front of Alan’s parents
IT’S A MAD GOD WHO DERAILS TRAINS TO PROVE THAT HE’S IN CHARGE
Which would have got her into Court charged with BLASPHEMY! Since 1967 was the year of the Gay News Blasphemy Trial where a well known poet was in trouble for saying that Christ was “gay “ In that year Baroness Wootton an eminent London magistrate pleaded for someone to invent a Moral Code entirely independent of religious dogma and as easy to understand as multiplication tables. When Alan is remanded in custody on trumped up charges of breach of the Secrets Acts he questions inmates and invents HIS Code of Behaviour called Contributionism.
I owe my father a very back handed compliment for his crass remarks on 12 Nov 1967. I have lost count of the works I have written about Alan Wright who growing old with me earns several other soubriquets including “The most dutiful of possible Welshmen “
As at Red Hill School my university years were generally happy and fulfilled, marred only by flaming rows with catholic landladies and during vacations I enjoyed the challenge of my studies and took to climbing lofty mountains I ran the Camera Club for a time and displayed my (monochrome) enlargements I was the ONLY student as far as I know to build a complete model railway – and also 12 engines many rolling stock items, a model of Gylen Castle, models of the Moy trestle viaduct and the Morar Viaduct and uniquely on a model railway, replications of GEOLOGICAL STRUCTURES.
Graduation triumph was short lived and I travelled fruitlessly in a quest for a job or post graduate course until at my brothers instigation I accepted a place at Stafford Polytechnic to study computer science. This was a disaster from the outset and led to yet more rows with father and brother which persisted till I was maimed in 1981 Then followed 10 halcyon years in Stafford where I climbed most Welsh mountains with artificial leg, and many in Scotland and some peaks in the Balkans and Poland I then moved to Cumbernauld to suffer ten years of unspeakable abuse from neighbours but in that time I was a live wire with a writer s organisation and indeed climbed many more mountains and built more model trains.
In 2001 I moved to Dunfermline when I was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome in 2004 I then read everything I could find about it and I have written a still burgeoning portfolio of essays on the Syndrome and short stories with Asperger characters Aspergers Syndrome explains all the hurtful experiences of my life and how we work with the Syndrome
collide head – on with people in authority. Recent findings prove that our brains are OVERDEVELOPED in early childhood and we suffer BRAIN DAMAGE when exposed to commonplace sensory stimuli which overload our nervous systems That includes 400 children singing HYMNS at school assembly and such matters as cigarette smoke or faecal smells There are in our ranks people with severe maladjustment of the sensory organs including synaesthesia POP MUSIC MADDENS ME and so do the garish labels on food cartons in supermarkets TYPE FACES convey hidden indecipherable languages
We with the Syndrome readily panic in the presence of authority We are judged as “mentally unstable” when we “go to pieces “ for example when stopped by the police .We readily break down into incoherence for example during job interviews yet when we are presented with challenges we are so absorbed in esoteric and demanding tasks that we FORGET TO EAT OR SLEEP I can expand in great detail how my mind has gone awry in particularly stressful situations ( q v below )
I have had some very unpleasant experiences since moving back to Scotland which have modified my view of the Scots My attempts to play Plato to Alan Wrights Socrates have proved to be futile (Plato had invented a system of government where rulers could not be corrupted. He tried to put it into practice in Greek Sicily and failed because the king of Greek Sicily like the Tory party flatly opposed beneficial changes). So it is with my attempts at shoestring philanthropy Contributionism has evolved to become the potential foundation of a successor civilisation founded in Alan Wrights Moelwyn pedagogy (derived from Red Hill Schools self motivated teaching ). It might yet become a better basis for a sustainable civilisation than either the dogmas of mainstream religions or the free for all multinational capitalism which is now suffocating all other ways of conducting our lives.
I am painfully aware how so few years are left to me and acutely cognisant that I could be as suddenly incapacitated as that broadcaster in the news. As a result of the MINDRAPE inflicted upon me in the name of GOD by my father I FEAR HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS I have nobody to be loyal to yet I hungered to have lived the life of a Devon tradesman who sired children to be proud of. All I have left is perhaps enough time to complete my literary works and make enlargements from my countless mountaintop negatives (as a basis for livelihood schemes for otherwise unemployable Asperger people ) in the hope that because of my unremitting strivings to improve myself I will be reincarnated with a better father than Derek Seagrave who will egg me on and sooner or later in that fuller life I will come across the works of the man writing this Account
Authentic but made up place names will bring about deep mental tremors and images of life in the reign of Elizabeth the Second
Rooftops seen from a passing train –Stafford – a recollection of having lived there
A tower on a hill a summoning bell I studied at that university
A vista from a lofty Scottish mountain I had stood there and shouted “Laus Deo !” to the eagles and the wind
My only hope is that in my next life I will come across the literary works of that man Seagrave and rejoice with all my heart that I WAS this man who struggled to emulate his fictional philosopher –and then go on to become another Aristotle ,perhaps
David Seagrave Dunfermline Library 5-8-2013