I have always been a keen student of British history and a natural romantic who would have loved to have been born in an earlier age. I have always felt that I was ‘born too late’ in too modern a world to readily fit in. Had I been around at the time of the ‘Industrial Revolution’ I have not the slightest doubt that I would have been to the front of the Luddite movement or indeed been a part of the assembled crowd at ‘The Peterloo Massacre.’ My trade union interests during my earlier life (being the youngest British Shop Steward at the age of 18 years), would have certainly made me one of the six 19th-century ‘Tolpuddle Martyrs.’ I also like to think that I might have broken free from my chains of transportation and made my way back home to England from Australia before they missed my presence.
Having always loved horses, the working classes and democracy, the one person I would have loved to have been in an earlier life was William Cobbett (1763-1835). Cobbett was an English pamphleteer, farmer, journalist and Member of Parliament who was born in Farnham, Surrey. He believed that true reformation of Parliament and the State would only be achieved through the abolition of ‘Rotten Boroughs’, an end to the poverty of all farm labourers, the abolition of the ‘Corn Laws’, which imposed a tax on imported grain and thereby making bread too expensive for the masses. Cobbett then advocated radicalism, which helped to bring in the ‘Reform Act’ of 1832. Although not a Catholic, William Cobbett became a forceful advocate of Catholic Emancipation in Britain. He wrote many polemics covering subjects from political reform to religion but is best known for his 1830 book, ‘Rural Rides’ which I read in my 15th year of life and which is still in print today.
When I was a pupil at ‘St Patrick’s Roman Catholic School’ in Heckmondwike at the age of 8 years of age, it was my misfortune to fall in love with a 12-year-old girl who had the most beautiful face this side of Heaven. There was nothing I wouldn’t have done for ‘Moira’ had she but asked for my services, but instead, it was a 13-year-old boy called Bernard whom she allowed to walk her home to Milnsbridge at the end of her school day. She sadly took herself from the world of admiring males at the age of 17 years and entered the convent to become a nun. Indeed, when I look back on my developing years, I was always falling for older females who somehow managed to see being a ‘Bride of Christ’ as being a far more attractive a proposition than waiting for me to grow up old enough to marry them! I secretly believe my contact with the fairer sex as a young boy and adolescent, to have been the main driving force in populating the Catholic convents, as three older girlfriends of mine were to become nuns. I wonder if God will give me credit and a few ‘brownie points’ for putting three additional souls in his direction?
I was unable to walk between the ages of 12-15 years of age following a serious traffic accident. During these three vital years, I essentially needed to discover information that only adults and more informed contacts could tell me. I wanted to walk again and I needed to acquaint myself with concepts about 'mind over matter' topics and disciplines that would assist me in my objectives. As my own peer group couldn't provide me with the things I wanted, I turned my focus and attention to older people than my years.
When I did walk again, I found myself more at home in the company of older people than myself. At the age of 18 years, I was invariable attracted towards the older woman who might be in her mid-twenties, and not only as you may think for the obvious reasons, although I must honestly confess that was always a consideration. My attraction to older men and women as companions and mates was due to their maturity of years which gave them added experience and made them more interesting to be with and more emotionally compatible with myself than my own peer group. Naturally, I mixed with young men and women of my own age, but never predominantly, especially after my early twenties. I emigrated to Canada on my own for two years at the age of twenty-one and when I returned to England, I was a more seasoned adult and older than my years in most interests and experiential ranges. Thereafter, in both my professional career and private life, I became a more independent individual year on year as I embarked on one crusade after another in my aim to change the world for the better. I don't know how well I succeeded, but as old 'Blue Eyes' said in his song, 'I did it my way' and have been doing it my way ever since.
So, you see, as my song today states, I do genuinely believe that I was 'born too late'.
Love and peace. Bill xxx